Paul Guéret (pohl gay-RAY), an incompetent, prematurely aged tutor. Tired of his wife, he tries to take up an affair with Angèle, a young laundress who is also a prostitute. Disturbed when he learns that Angèle is a prostitute, he beats the girl and disfigures her for life. Still in a passion, he shortly after kills a feeble old man. Guéret is trapped by his employer’s wife, who locks both of them in a room and then shoots herself, dooming Guéret to capture.
M. Grosgeorge (groh-ZHOHRZH), Guéret’s employer. Realizing Guéret’s frustrations, he suggests a mistress and, not knowing of Guéret’s infatuation with Angèle, reveals his own relationships with her.
Mme Grosgeorge, M Grosgeorge’s wife. She is a woman of twisted emotions who nags her husband, beats her son, and humiliates her son’s tutor. She seems only to rejoice when Guéret disfigures his and her husband’s mistress. She finds Guéret, takes him home, and hides him, though she despises him. When he wants to leave, she locks both of them in a room and calmly shoots herself.
Angèle (ahn-ZHEHL), a little laundress forced by her aunt, Mme Londe, to be a prostitute. She is loved by Guéret, who both attracts and repels her. She is beaten and disfigured by Guéret when he learns that she is a prostitute.
Mme Londe (lohnd), Angèle’s aunt, a restaurant owner. She seeks power over other people through the knowledge of their guilt and vices learned from Angèle.
Fernande (fehr-NAHND), a twelve-year-old girl turned into a prostitute by Mme Londe when Angèle refuses to continue her practices.
André Grosgeorge (ahn-DRAY), the boy whom Guéret is hired to tutor. He is a backward lad.