Character Analysis Wealhtheow

Hrothgar’s queen is an embodiment of hospitality and good taste as she hosts the banquets in Heorot. She is everything that a queen should be: generous, tasteful, proper, and kind. Her graceful appearance shortly after the Unferth incident contrasts effectively with the rude behavior of the drunken retainer. Wealhtheow is […]

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Character Analysis Unferth

Along with Grendel, Unferth represents the theme of envy in the epic. Shortly after Beowulf’s arrival, Unferth, full of mead, insults the guest at a banquet. This is more than an awkward moment for the hosts. Unferth’s behavior goes against the code of hospitality. Unferth accuses Beowulf, as a lad, […]

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Character Analysis Grendel

The ogre who has menaced Hrothgar’s people for 12 years is a huge, powerful descendant of the biblical Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, who killed his brother Abel out of jealousy (Genesis 4). Cain’s name in Hebrew is Qayin, meaning “creature,” and, according to legend, the monsters of […]

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Character Analysis Wiglaf

The one retainer who comes to Beowulf’s aid in the battle against the dragon represents the theme of loyalty in the system of the comitatus. This is the honor code that exists between the king, or feudal lord, and his warriors, sometimes called “thanes” or “retainers.” (Technically, retainers would be […]

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Character Analysis Beowulf

The reader is first introduced to Beowulf as he disembarks from his ship, having just arrived in the land of the Danes (Scyldings) from his home in Geatland. He is an impressive-looking man. The Scylding coastal guard points out that he has never seen “a mightier noble, / a larger […]

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