Olive Chancellor, the portrait of the Boston lady. She is won over to the cause of the suffragists but exercises poor taste in attempting to accomplish their goals.
Adeline Luna, her sister. She is a worldly woman who does not subscribe to the concept of the “new woman.”
Basil Random, her cousin from Mississippi. A lawyer practicing in New York City, he falls in love with Verena Tarrant’s voice, if not her ideas, and is able to persuade her to marry him. He believes that people must excel within their appointed stations in society.
Verena Tarrant, Olive’s protégée. An attractive young woman, Verena possesses few ideas of her own but is groomed for the cause of the woman suffrage movement. She is saved from this fate, however, by Basil Random, who carries her off to Mississippi as his bride.
Selah Tarrant, Verena’s father, a fake mesmeric healer.
Mrs. Tarrant, Verena’s mother. She is the daughter of Boston abolitionists.
Miss Birdseye, an eighty-year-old reformer who is both sincere and ineffectual. Henry James’s favorite character, she dies believing that Basil Random has been persuaded of the need for a women’s movement.
Dr. Prance, a woman who is a true doctor and who, in her real and practical way, is doing more for the women’s rights movement than the suffragists.
Mrs. Burrage, a New York society hostess.
Henry Burrage, her son, a Harvard undergraduate who courts Verena.
Mrs. Farrinder, a suffragist campaigner who is suspicious of Tarrant.