Hrothgar is the King of the Danes, and the creator of the famous mead hall that becomes a symbol of human greatness. Grendel watches as Hrothgar grows from a tribal leader to the ruler of a vast kingdom, beloved by his subjects. However, Grendel understands that beneath Hrothgar’s honorable, charismatic exterior is a keen strategic mind. While Hrothgar may genuinely believe in glory, morality, and community to some extent, it’s clear that he is aware that publicly exalting these values helps him to gain political power. The more that Hrothgar glorifies kings, queens, warriors, and human civilization, the more the Danes idealize their king and wish to pledge their lives to fight his battles. The Shaper serves to spread Hrothgar’s propaganda, painting Hrothgar as a great and kind ruler, and his subjects as heroic soldiers who will be remembered for centuries to come. The Danes happily consume these stories, and willingly play out the roles that Hrothgar and his Shaper have created for them.

Although Hrothgar uses romantic narratives to his own benefit, he does generally hold true to the values he espouses. He is a benevolent ruler who creates a vast, organized society of people who feel confident in the roles and purposes they fulfill within that society. However, every good and honorable decision that Hrothgar makes can be doubly explained by his self-interest. Grendel’s war with Hrothgar’s Danes doesn’t just threaten human civilization—it threatens Hrothgar’s seat of power, and everything he has built and achieved. Hrothgar’s war against Grendel is not just a war to save his people but also a war to save his own position. Grendel’s attacks terrify the Danes, and they begin to lose confidence in Hrothgar. In order to solidify his place as King, Hrothgar eventually is forced to acquiesce to the foreign Beowulf in the hopes that the Geat warrior can save his kingdom, restore peace, and return him to uncontested power.