Kaspar Almayer, an unsuccessful Dutch trader in Malaya. His ambition is to take a large profit from a secret gold mine and return with his daughter Nina to Amsterdam. He fails to find the mine, is deserted by his wife, and is disappointed by his daughter’s elopement with a Malay. Friendless and addicted to opium, he lives out the last of his life in an unfinished house named Almayer’s Folly.
Mrs. Almayer, a Malay. Her husband loses the prospering business her adopted father had left her. She despises her husband and all white men. She wants her daughter to remain a Malay and wants to remain a Malay herself. After her daughter’s marriage, Mrs. Almayer returns to her own people.
Captain Lingard, a prosperous trader who adopted Mrs. Almayer as a child and made her his heir.
Nina, the Almayers’ daughter, educated as a European despite her mixed blood. She returns to the little settlement of her girlhood because of her mistreatment by whites in Singapore. Although she is attractive to white men because of her beauty, she marries Dain Maroola, a Malay, with whom she is more certain she can retain her dignity and self-respect.
Dain Maroola, a Malay. He and Nina fall in love with each other and are married. He is a great man among his own people, being the son of a rajah.
Lakamba, the Rajah of Sambir, Almayer’s enemy. He befriends Dain when the young man runs afoul the Dutch authorities, and he later becomes Mrs. Almayer’s protector.
Babalatchi, Lakamba’s chief aide.