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The hero of Beowulf, Beowulf is a Geatish warrior loyal to his king, Hygelac. Beowulf's father was the warrior Ecgtheow, and his mother is a sister of Hygelac. Despite his noble lineage… (read full character analysis)


The King of the Danes, the son of Healfdene, the brother of Heorogar and Halga, and the brother-in-law of Onela the Swede. He is also the father of young sons Hrethric, Hrothmund(read full character analysis)


The son of Weohstan the Scylfing, and a relative of Beowulf, as well as his most loyal warrior. In the battle against the dragon, he proves to be the only Geatish warrior with… (read full character analysis)


A Dane, the son of Ecglaf, and a follower of Hrothgar. Unferth is presented as contrast to Beowulf, providing a glimpse of a poor warrior in contrast to Beowulf's good warrior. Unferth… (read full character analysis)


A man-eating monster descended from the Biblical Cain. Grendel is described as a "walker in darkness," who is "wearing God's anger" and "lacking in joy" because he has inherited the curse the Biblical Cain… (read full character analysis)
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A fire-breathing dragon who discovered a lost tribe's treasure and moved into the barrow housing the gold. The dragon is exceedingly greedy – marking a stark contrast to good kings, who create loyalty and love… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Beowulf's father and the husband of King Hygelac's sister. Hrothgar once gave him sanctuary after Ecgtheow, a Geatish warrior, killed a warrior of the Wylfings. This history makes Beowulf loyal to Hrothgar.
The king of the Geats, son of Hrethel, husband of Hygd, father of Heardred, and Beowulf's uncle. He is a good and generous king.
The wife of Hygelac and the queen of the Geats. Like Wealhtheow of the Danes, Hygd is a good and generous queen.
Hygelac's father, and one-time king of the Geats. His life was made bitter when one of his sons (Haethcyn) accidentally killed the other (Herebeald).
Hygelac and Hygd's son. After Hygelac dies, Beowulf supports Heardred as boy-king of the Geats even though Beowulf could have taken the throne himself.
A Geat who competed with Beowulf in a swimming contest as a youth.
Hrothgar's herald. Technically he is a Wendel and not a Dane, but he serves Hrothgar the Danish king.
The Geat whom Grendel grabs and eats in Heorot before Beowulf fights the beast.
Scyld Scefing
A foundling, he became the first king in the Danish royal line. He is the father of Beow, and the great-grandfather of Hrothgar.
Hrothgar's father, and the king of the Danes.
The wife of King Hrothgar and queen of the Danes, the mother of Hrethic and Hrothmund. She is a good and generous queen.
Hrothgar's son and heir.
Another son of Hrothgar's.
The nephew of Hrothgar, the son of Hrothgar's brother. After Hrothgar's death, Hrothulf betrays his cousin Hrethic, leading to the burning of Heorot by the Heatho-Bards.
Sometimes called Beowulf I or Beowulf the Dane, he ruled the Danes after his father Scyld Schefing. He is not the hero of Beowulf.
An old Danish warrior and Hrothgar's counselor. Aeschere is killed by Grendel's mother.
The daughter of Hrothgar, and the future wife of Ingeld, the prince of the Heatho-Bards. Her marriage is an unsuccessful attempt to create peace between the feuding Danes and the Heatho-Bards..
Unferth's father.
An example of a bad king. An early Danish king, he was once great but was moved by pride to suppress and kill his own people.
An example of a bad queen. In her youth she caused people to be killed merely for looking at her. She is said to have improved, becoming generous, after her marriage to the king of the Angles.
In the story of the Fight at Finnsburg, Finn is a Frisian king who marries the Danish princess Hildeburh, but then battles and kills Hildeburh's brother, Hnaef.
In the story of the Fight at Finnsburg, the wife of the Frisian King Finn and sister of the Danish King Hnaef. When these two kings fight, she's caught in the middle, and both her brother and son are killed.
The king of the Danes in the story of the Fight at Finnsburg. Hildeburh is his sister.
The Dane who becomes king after Hnaef is killed fighting the Frisians in the Fight at Finnsburg.
A legendary warrior who killed a dragon.
The Old Testament of the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, tells the story of how Cain killed his brother Abel. Cain was marked by God, so others would know him and cast him out of society. The giants, Grendel and Grendel's Mother, are descended from Cain.
Grendel's Mother
A female version of Grendel, she is also descended from Cain. Grendels' mother attacks the Danes in revenge for the death of her son, but is also eventually killed by Beowulf.