Dominique de Bray
Dominique de Bray (doh-mee-NEEK deh breh), a gentleman who tells the narrator the story of his life up to his early retirement to a quiet, happy life with his wife and children. Attracted to Madeleine de Nièvres during his schooldays, his love for her, after she marries another, fills his life with conflicts between the emotions and the disciplines of the mind. Finally realizing the mediocrity of his talents as a writer and the hopelessness of his and Madeleine’s love, he retires to the Château des Trembles to become the unpretentious and beloved friend of all in the community.
Olivier d’Orsel (oh-lee-VYAY dohr-SEHL), Dominique’s friend. A wealthy, luxury-loving man of engaging manner, he comes to hate the world and himself and suddenly retires from social life. Hearing of Olivier’s attempted suicide, Dominique is led to tell the narrator the story of his own life.
Augustin (oh-gew-STA[N]), Dominique’s practical, disciplined tutor. He attempts to help his pupil solve his emotional problems by encouraging him in the pursuits of the mind.
Madeleine de Nièvres
Madeleine de Nièvres (mahd-LEHN deh NYEH-vruh), beloved of Dominique. A married woman, her love for Dominique brings her the conflicts of a troubled conscience that causes her to send her lover away.
Monsieur de Nièvres
Monsieur de Nièvres, the husband of Madeleine.
Madame Ceyssac (seh-SAHK), Dominique’s aunt.
Julie (zhew-LEE), Madeleine de Nièvres’ sister, in love with Olivier d’Orsel.