In the above passage from Gylfaginning it in no way portrays her as evil, or conniving, or vicious etc.... She does not have a jaw that can swallow the sky, or blows poison that spatters the earth and sky. She doesn't even have a flaming sword like Surt. Actually, she does not seem to have any weapon at all ! Odin also gives her what I believe is an important commission, which is of course to watch over and care for the dead. To do this Odin has given her authority over all the nine worlds. It just doesn't sound like something you would do for someone, or something, you do not trust or fear. To point out how important her role is, when Odin's own son Balder rides into Niflheim, after being killed by his unfortunate and tricked brother Hodr, Hel actually welcomes Balder very warmly. Odin rides to Niflheim and forces a witch to rise out of her grave and answer his questions which point out how important Hel felt Balder's presence was in Niflheim. Odin asks, " Why are the benches bright with gold, the great hall gleaming, who will be the guest ? " She answers that the mead was brewed for Balder. " A shield lies over the shining drink. " she tells Odin.
Yes, Hel does seem to participate in some non - specific way to the chaos that takes place during Ragnarok. It says in Gylfaginning that, " the family of Hel joins in the chaos of Ragnarok", but it does not give any specific ways that they participate, or answer the question of why they are there. Possibly it is because her father Loki leads the forces of Chaos, or maybe she is just angry at her misfortune of being made to take care of the dead, in a cold ,wet, damp place like Niflheim. Either way I do not see her as truly evil at all as some do in our religion. Hel has been placed in a difficult situation that she must make the best of, and judging by the way she treats Balder, I think she does a good job of it. She is stern, and unyielding, yes, but this is due to her duties as the guardian of the dead, and not from some personality trait. And lets not forget that she did agree to allow Balder to go back to the lands of the living if everthing would shed tears for him. So she is even a little flexible at times. I will not make her
" guilty by association", just because of Loki' s other children. I do not honor her directly, but I do honor her for what she does for our dead. I actually have a small statue of her, in pewter, that I have on an altar with Odin and Thor. To me they represent three of the nine worlds, Asgard, Midgard, and Niflheim.
So.... Yes, I have pity, and actually a lot of respect for this female Jotun who has had a great responsibility thrust upon her. She must sacrifice much for the sake of others, and does not seem to get much " press " in the Eddas and the Sagas for her trouble.Or thanks from the Gods for that matter. She is someone who must walk in the shadows of the other great entities of the nine worlds, and suffers greatly to serve those who come into her charge. I have this vision of her getting ready to eat, and then just before she is able to bring the food to her mouth some poor dead soul comes to her, with sad dead hungry eyes, and she must give the food to that person out of compassion. This happens over and over again until Ragnarok opens the gates of Niflheim and releases those in her charge. Yes, pity and respect, are the two feelings that I have for the Mistress of Niflheim Hel !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja' s love, and Thor's protection !