In "Grendel," how is Beowulf a round character, and what evidence in story proves this?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We know his parentage, his hometown, and why he has come to rescue Hrothgar from Grendel.  He has a sense of duty and honor as he has come to repay Hrothgar's kindness to Beowulf's father when he was in need.  He is skilled as a warrior, as a swimmer, and as a leader.  He is also a skilled orator.  Is he arrogant?  Some critics have argued this to be the case.  However, in leadership positions, it is important for people to sell themselves and that those who would follow have complete confidence in the success and abilities of that leader.  Beowulf has satisfied all of this and more.  None of his Geats leave him as they await his return from the bubbling waters that cover Grendel's home as Beowulf battles the monster's mother.  True, he also goes to rescue Hrothgar for fame, but this is one of the major belief systems of the Anglo-Saxon people--they are juxtaposed with Christianity and belief that afterlife is assured with great feats and fame achieved through the story tellers who travel from place to place. Beowulf achieves his goals, and he becomes King himself.  At this point, he is well-respected and lives and leads his people in peace for many years.  By the time the dragon seeks revenge over a stolen cup, Beowulf is aged and weaker than in his youth.  He has not lost his courage, but he is unable to win alone.  He thinks only of his people and chooses Wiglaf to follow him.  He is a believable guy.