Where Does Grendel Live

In the story of "Beowulf," where does the monster Grendel live?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the first chapter of the story, it is established that Grendel lived close to the mead hall because he was able to hear the merrymaking activities in the hall. It was also stated that the monster lived in darkness and walked around the moors or swampy areas of the region. During his first attack he snatched 30 men and ran towards his lair which was in the marshes. Grendel later encountered Beowulf who had come to fight off the monster and it is stated that after Beowulf severed the arm of Grendel, the monster ran back to its den in the marshes and died there.

Grendel, sick unto his death, went hence and sought his den in the dark moors, that vile abode; he knew full well that his life had reached its end and that the last of his days on earth had come.

In the story, it is noted that Grendel’s mother also lived in a similar abode as her child. She resided in the swamps not so far from Herot and it was there she fought with Beowulf to her death.

The history of the monsters suggests that they were the children of Cain in the Bible story. The monsters were condemned to live in the wastelands and as told in the story, both Grendel and the mother lived isolated in marshes or swamps.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is actually sort of a difficult question because the origins of the words used to describe Grendel's home are unclear in the old texts.  Translated, the text says something like this...Grendel is:

"in moorland living," (from chapter one)

A moorland is a land full of moors, which is sort of like a boggy, scraggly, inhospitable place.  There is reference to "Grendel's Mere""Grendel's Pit" and "Grendel's Peck" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.  These would lead the reader to believe that Grendel is living in some kind of underground pit, watery cave, or nasty hole within a swamp, though it never really says.  It's a safe bet, though...Grendel's mother does indeed live in some kind of underwater cave in the swamp, so this probably would support the idea that Grendel lived in one too.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial