Wiglaf is a significant character in the third and last episode of the Beowulf poem. Wiglaf is Beowulf's most loyal warrior, a representative of the generation after him. He is the only one of Beowulf's warriors not to abandon his king when the dragon menaces Beowulf's people. He is Beowulf's sole living kinsman, being a distant cousin of the great warrior-king.
Wiglaf's fierce loyalty, especially in contrast to the other warriors, says a lot about the state of Beowulf's society late in his reign. It suggests that the heroic traits that Beowulf so embodied—loyalty to a king, courage in the face of danger—are dying traits. This adds to the famous elegiac tone of the poem, which presents the passing away of a way of life. The fact that Beowulf's people fear their own extinction when he is no longer there to protect them contributes to this implication.
Wiglaf emerges as Beowulf's successor, both as a king and as a warrior. However, he does not appear optimistic about the future of the Geats. He may or may not be able to fully fill Beowulf's shoes as protector of his people.