Beowulf: Main Characters

Beowulf: Main Characters

Beowulf
a great warrior, goes to Denmark on a successful mission to kill Grendel; he returns home to Geatland, where he becomes king and slays a dragon before dying; poem; alliterative verse, elegy, small scale heroic epic; author unknown; setting around 500 AD
King Hrothgar
King of the Danes; Father figure to Beowulf
Grendel
demon descended from Cain, terrorizes Herot, killed by Beowulf
Grendel’s mother
An unnamed swamp-hag, Grendel’s mother seems to possess fewer human qualities than Grendel, although her terrorization of Heorot is explained by her desire for vengeance—a human motivation.
The dragon
An ancient, powerful serpent, the dragon guards a horde of treasure in a hidden mound. Beowulf’s fight with the dragon constitutes the third and final part of the epic.
Halfdane Wealhtheow
one of the kings of the Spear-Danes, is the grandson of Shield Sheafson
Unferth
One of Hrothgar’s warriors, jealous of Beowulf, lent his sword to Beowulf to fight Grendel’s mother
Hrethric
Hrothgar’s elder son, Hrethric stands to inherit the Danish throne, but Hrethric’s older cousin Hrothulf will prevent him from doing so. Beowulf offers to support the youngster’s prospect of becoming king by hosting him in Geatland and giving him guidance.
Hrothulf
Hrothgar’s nephew, Hrothulf betrays and usurps his cousin, Hrethic, the rightful heir to the Danish throne. Hrothulf’s treachery contrasts with Beowulf’s loyalty to Hygelac in helping his son to the throne.
Aeschere
the right hand man of Hrothgar killed by Grendel’s mother; led to Beowulf”s quest for their lair
Hygelac
This King of the Geats is also Beowulf’s uncle. Upon hearing Beowulf’s courageous exploits, he gives Beowulf nearly half his kingdom.
Hygd
Hygelac’s wife
Wiglaf
young warrior who stays with Beowulf during the fight with the dragon, and because of his loyalty, Beowulf names him as his heir