Rachel Sang, a wealthy young Norwegian liberal who tries to spread social enlightenment through use of a fortune inherited from an American aunt. She establishes a hospital and a newspaper. She cannot understand why the workingmen resort to violence.
Elias Sang, Rachel’s brother, also a liberal. Under the influence of the demagogic Bratt, he comes to believe in sensational means to achieve the workers’ ends. He tells his sister that death is the only way to a new life. He commits suicide by staying in Holger’s castle when he knows it will be blown up.
Bratt, an extremist union leader and a former preacher. the workers led by him plant explosives under Holger’s castle and blow it up during a meeting of industrialists there.
Pastor Falk, an idealist who preaches that social conditions can best be improved by exercising Christian patience and forbearance. He is ineffectual as an influence among the working people.
Holger, an industrialist and something of a philanthropist. He turns his mansion over to Rachel to be made into a workers’ convalescent hospital.
Credo Holger, Holger’s nephew, the son of Summer, Holger’s liberal brother, now dead. Guided by Rachel, he dedicates his life to inventions that may make life easier and more pleasant.
Spera Holger, Holger’s niece, Credo’s sister. Under Rachel’s influence, she decides to spend her life bringing greater freedom to women.
Maren Haug, a worker’s wife who, while drunk, kills her two children and herself as an expression of the futility of life for the workers.
Halden, a young architect. Sympathizing with the workers, he helps them plant the explosives under Holger’s castle, even though, as it is later discovered, he is Holger’s son.