How does Grendel's lair compare to Heorot figuratively and literally?How does Grendel's lair in Beowulf compare to Heorot?

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thewritingteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a great question. At first glace, there seems to be nothing in common between Heorot and Grendel's lair. Heorot is bright, covered in hammered gold and designed for celebration. It stands high in the land, "towering magestic" (according to Raffell's translation), and shines with the glory of the Danes. Grendel's lair, on the other hand, is underwater, dark, and foreboding. Grendel, described as a descendent of Cain, moves with evil intent, and his lair reeks of malice.

However, upon consideration, there are some similiarities between the two. Heorot is the hall where great victories are celebrated and remembered. It is filled with the plunder from those victories, artfully worked, and made to last of iron covered with gold. Grendel's lair is also made to last, a stone cave hidden under the water, inaccessible to man. Grendel's lair is also filled with the spoils of his conquests, as evidenced by the sword of the giants with which Beowulf slays Grendel's mother.

Both places are tributes to pride: one of honor, one of malice. Both contain reminders of great victories, and both reflect the souls of the builders.