Arnolphe (ahr-NOHLF), also known as M. de la Souche (deh lah sewsh), a man who is convinced that, to avoid being disgraced by an unfaithful wife, he must marry a very innocent girl who has been sheltered and kept from the world. He decides to marry Agnès, his ward. He sends her to a convent and then keeps her in seclusion in a small cottage on his estate. He plots to keep her apart from Horace, the young man she loves, but eventually is foiled in his plan.
Agnès (ahn-YEHS), Arnolphe’s ward, a young and very innocent girl who knows nothing of love affairs but is very much in love with Horace. She is so ignorant that she once asked if babies came from the ear. In spite of Arnolphe’s plotting, she is united with her lover.
Horace (oh-RAHS), the young man who is in love with Agnès. He does not know that Arnolphe, her guardian, and the man named de la Souche, who is supposed to marry Agnès, are one and the same person. He considers Arnolphe to be his friend, consults him, and asks for his aid in winning Agnès. Arnolphe attempts to betray him but fails, and Horace and Agnès are united in spite of Arnolphe’s plots against them.
Chrysalde (kree-ZAHLD), Arnolphe’s friend and confidant. He is the recipient of Arnolphe’s declarations about how a wife should be trained.
Enrique (ehn-REEK), Chrysalde’s brother-in-law. Horace’s father is determined that Horace must marry Enrique’s daughter, and Arnolphe encourages this plan. When he learns that Enrique’s daughter is really Agnès, his discovery comes too late.
Oronte (oh-ROHNT), Horace’s father and Enrique’s friend. He insists that Horace must marry Enrique’s daughter.