In books one of the most important things of the book is the main character. However, just as important is the foil; the foil is a contrast on another main character. In Beowulf the foils serve the great purpose of bringing to light even more aspects of the main character. There are many characters who do this to the main character Beowulf.
One of the main foils in the story is a warrior named Unferth. Unferth is a warrior for King Hrothgar. Unferth's main purpose is to bring out the more heroic and polite parts of Beowulf. Unferth would constantly challenge Beowulf, "... Unferth, son of Ecglaf's, spoke contrary words. Beowulf's coming, his sea-braving, made him sick with envy..." (35), after this Beowulf would go on to disprove all of Unferth's accusations. This shows that Unferth was made to say something childish for the purpose of Beowulf disproving him and thus making Beowulf more honest and heroic.
However, there are even more characteristics that are brought out by other foils.
The King of the Danes, Hrothgar, was another character who brought out some major characteristics in Beowulf. Hrothgar brought out the strength and reliability in Beowulf. Hrothgar relied on him to kill Grendel, "Never, since my hand could hold a shield have I entrusted or given control of the Danes' hall to anyone but you. Ward and guard it, for it is the greatest of houses" (45). This shows that Hrothgar recognizes that he needs Beowulf's help. In return Beowulf talks about how brave and strong he is. This is because he was given the opportunity to boast about how wonderful he is due to what Hrothgar had just done. These seem to be all the traits that a wondrous main character would need however,