Clara, a young girl who, to prove her love, gives herself physically to the man she loves. She is crushed when he does not want to marry her and seizes as his excuse the fact that Clara’s brother has been accused of theft. Feeling that her pregnancy and its disgrace may drive her father to suicide, Clara thinks of killing herself. The arrival of an old suitor who still wants to marry her only puts off the action for a time. Clara drowns herself in the household well.
Leonard, Clara’s lover and fiancé. He is a selfish, calculating young man. As a means of getting a job, he courts the mayor’s daughter. Finding that the girl loves him, he throws over Clara, despite her pregnancy, and marries his new love. Leonard is killed in a duel by the secretary, a suitor who loves Clara.
The secretary, a childhood sweetheart of Clara. He wants to marry her, though she is pregnant by Leonard. He vows to fight a duel with Leonard, does so, and is fatally wounded.
Karl, Clara’s brother. Because of his unsavory reputation, he is accused of theft and thus gives Leonard an excuse to break off with Clara. Later, Karl is cleared of any guilt.
Anthony, Clara’s father. He is a simpleminded cabinetmaker who does not understand what happens to his family. The secretary, dying, accuses Anthony of Clara’s death because of his pride and weakness. Anthony, unable to comprehend the mysteries of life, fails to see how he can be at all responsible for his daughter’s suicide.
Anthony’s wife, Clara’s mother. She is a respectable, God-fearing woman who wishes only the best for her family. The accusations leveled against her son are enough of a shock to kill her.