In Beowulf, how does Wiglaf represent the ideal role of the warrior?

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the anonymous Beowulf, Wiglaf represents the ideal Scandinavian warrior in a number of ways.

When all of the rest of Beowulf's men run from the dragon and desert him, Wiglaf stays to fight and help his king:


Everything his lord and cousin had given him,

Armor and gold and the great estates

Wexstan's family enjoyed, Wiglaf's

Mind was made up; he raised his yellow

Shield and drew his sword--an ancient


Wiglaf is loyal and brave, two traits expected of a warrior.

He performs well in battle:

...his soul did not melt, his sword was strong;

The dragon discovered his courage, and his weapon,

When the rush of battle brought them together.

At one point, he "dove through the dragon's deadly fumes."  He is loyal, brave, and fearless.  These are representative of an ideal warrior.

On the lighter side, at least for a postmodern reader, he can also give a great speech.  Only in an epic does a warrior take time to give a speech when his king is being burned alive by a dragon!