In general, the female characters see more clearly and act more in a way that sustains community than the male ones. With the exception of Relling, who has devoted himself to study of human nature, the men all tend to be in some way self-deluding.
(Old) Ekdal: Hjalmar’s father. Previously, Hakon Werle’s business partner. After being jailed for illegal tree cutting, returns a drunkard who works as a copyist for Hakon.
Hjalmar Ekdal: Son of Old Ekdal. Runs a photographic business. Like his father, lives somewhat in a fantasy world, dreaming of getting rich from an invention he hasn't actually made to work.
Molvik: Border. Another alcoholic living in a fantasy world.
Dr. Relling: A clear sighted individual who acts as a moral and intellectual compass.
Gregers Werle: Hakon' idealistic young son who believes that revealing Gina's affair with Hakon will improve her marriage with Hjalmar. He ideals normally prompt him to do precisely the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Hakon Werle: Wealthy man who out of guilt for his affair with Gina supports the Ekdal family.
Gina Ekdal: Wife of Hjalmar Ekdal. Practical and sensible and holds family together.
Hedvig Ekdal: Spiritual and sensitive daughter who shows the other side of the feminine in a nurturing of the soul and connection to nature.
Mrs. Sorby: Widowed housekeeper to Hakon. Engaged to Hakon. Another emblem of practical femininity.