Mr. Bracknel, an Irish businessman who prides himself on his practicality. He is a tyrannical husband and father, although he believes his family defies him only to displease him. He is disappointed in his wife because she is sickly, in his son Denis because he thinks the boy mad. He also tries to keep his daughters from meeting young men. He dies of a heart attack brought on by an argument with his eldest son, Alfred, a ne’er-do-well.
Mrs. Bracknel, a sickly woman who seems much older than her forty-six years.
Alfred Bracknel, the eldest son, who has a job in his father’s business but prefers to devote himself to pleasure. Though he is incompetent, he inherits his father’s business, a fact that makes him glad of his father’s death.
Denis Bracknel, seventeen years old. He is interested in the mystical and occult. He finds the world too much to bear and commits suicide beside a pagan altar he discovers near his home.
May Bracknel, a healthy, normal person, the eldest of the Bracknel daughters.
Amy Bracknel, a man-crazy, sensual girl who is infatuated with Hubert Rusk. She annoys the tutor, who is oblivious to her, by disturbing his charge’s lessons. She even tries to announce her engagement to Mr. Rusk.
Hubert Rusk, Denis Bracknel’s tutor, an easy and affable young man hired because he can understand Denis’ mental condition. He comes to fear that the boy’s mental aberrations are bad for his own mental health, but he stays on the job, in deference to the wishes of the Bracknels’ doctor, until the boy commits suicide.