Here the people, or rather the nobles, carry on all the activities of human life; it is where they eat and drink and where many sleep. But it is nevertheless also close to the wild, not only in being made of wood, but in its name, for Heorot means “Hart,” or male deer–a noble animal but still animal. In being wood, like others mentioned in the poem, it can be and will be burned, with great slaughter. The humans who live here can and will be terrible to one another. Moreover, Heorot’s bright lights and noises offend Grendel, a monstrous descendant of Cain who is condemned to wander alone in the wastelands. Grendel visits Hrothgar’s hall regularly and carries off warriors to devour.
Wasteland. There is no description of farming or herding activities in the land around Heorot; indeed, there seem to be no human inhabitants there. Beowulf and his companions are alone as they pass through it. The great hall contains everything human in this world. Outside, the world is a great wasteland, dark forest, mists, moors, narrow dangerous paths, great, gray crags, and no animals or birds, except terrifying water monsters.
Grendel’s cave. This underwater home of the monstrous Grendel and his mother is the opposite of Heorot. It is home to only two beings, and everything about it is unnatural. Although the entrance to the cave is by way of water, the cave itself is dry. It too is lit by a fire, but its fire is certainly uncanny. After Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother, the cave is suddenly illuminated by a magical light. Like the cave of the dragon, it is filled with many treasures; however, they do not seem to be connected with human activity in any way, not even the sword that Beowulf finds there and uses.
Dragon’s lair. The dragon lives in a dark cave from which a dark stream of water issues. He guards a great treasure of precious materials, goblets, bowls, cups, dishes, rings, weapons, and armor. The swords are partially eaten away by time since they are iron, but most of the objects are made of gold. The hoard was accumulated and left behind by the last man of a long-forgotten community. All the treasures were created by men and are thus products of “civilization.” While they seem to give off a kind of light, they are slowly reverting to the darkness of the nonhuman.
Sea. The waters of the sea are dangerous for travelers, largely because of sea monsters but implicitly because of threat to the ships that carry men. Beowulf tells the story of his dreadful battles with these monsters. He wins these battles, but all bodies of water are nonhuman and perilous as in Beowulf’s terrifying descent into the great pool or mere where Grendel’s mother lives.