The Captain, a captain of cavalry who is the chief sufferer in this domestic tragedy. He was rejected by his mother and consequently sought a mother/wife in marriage. Driven to raving madness by his wife, he is straitjacketed and suffers a stroke.
Laura, his wife. Accepting the maternal side of her relationship with her husband, she loathes her role as wife and takes vengeance on her husband by destroying him. In her efforts to prove him mad, she resorts to forgery and to misrepresentation of his scientific interests, which in fact she does not understand. She also exploits a suspicion that she has planted in his mind, that their daughter is not his.
Bertha, their daughter and a chief object of conflict.
Margaret, the Captain’s old nurse. She tries to reassure him periodically; it is she who at last calms him enough to slip a straitjacket on him.
Dr. Ostermark, the new village doctor, to whom Laura goes with her “evidence” of her husband’s insanity.
Auditor Safberg, a freethinker with whom the Captain intends to board Bertha so that she will be educated away from the influence of her mother and of her grandmother, who is bent on teaching her spiritualism.
Nojd, a trooper in difficulties because he impregnated a servant girl. His relatively trivial problem suggests to Laura the weapon she successfully uses against her husband.
Emma, the servant girl in trouble.
Ludwig, who Nojd claims may well be the father of Emma’s child.
The Pastor, Laura’s brother, before whom Nojd is called. His sympathy for Nojd is greater than the Captain’s. Later, when the Pastor sees through Laura’s scheme, she dares him to accuse her.