Character ListBeowulf- The protagonist of the epic, Beowulf is a Geatish hero who fights the monster Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a fire-breathing dragon. Beowulf’s boasts and encounters reveal him to be the strongest, ablest warrior around. In his youth, he personifies all of the best values of the heroic culture. In his old age, he proves a wise and effective ruler.King Hrothgar- The king of the Danes. Hrothgar enjoys military success and prosperity untilGrendel terrorizes his realm. A wise and aged ruler, Hrothgar represents a different kind of leadership from that exhibited by the youthful warrior Beowulf. He is a father figure to Beowulf and a model for the kind of king that Beowulf becomes.Grendel- A demon descended from Cain, Grendel preys on Hrothgar’s warriors in the king’s mead-hall, Heorot. Because his ruthless and miserable existence is part of the retribution exacted by God for Cain’s murder of Abel, Grendel fits solidly within the ethos of vengeance thatgoverns the world of the poem.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.Other DanesShield Sheafson- The legendary Danish king from whom Hrothgar is descended, Shield Sheafson is the mythical founder who inaugurates a long line of Danish rulers and embodies theDanish tribe’s highest values of heroism and leadership. The poem opens with a brief account ofhis rise from orphan to warrior-king, concluding, “That was one good king” (11).Beow- The second king listed in the genealogy of Danish rulers with which the poem begins. Beow is the son of Shield Sheafson and father of Halfdane. The narrator presents Beow as a
gift from God to a people in need of a leader. He exemplifies the maxim, “Behavior that’s admired / is the path to power among people everywhere” (24–25).