Hardress Cregan, a wealthy, spirited young man of the upper classes. He lives for sports and a good time. Though a courageous man, he is shy around women. Disdainful of the lower classes, he nevertheless marries Eily O’Connor, a lower-class girl. He is afraid to let his family know of the alliance. He regrets his marriage when he comes to love his cousin, Ann Chute. His servant murders Eily, and Hardress plans to marry Ann; however, the servant confesses to his crime and implicates Hardress, and Hardress is sent into exile as a criminal.
Kyrle Daly, a middle-class young man, a friend of Hardress during and after their college days. He loves Ann Chute and marries her after Hardress is exiled.
Eily O’Connor, a ropemaker’s daughter, secretly married to Hardress. She is a beautiful girl. When her husband falls in love with Ann Chute, Eily is willing to go to Canada to be out of the way, but she is murdered by her husband’s servant.
Ann Chute, a beautiful upper-class girl, Hardress’ cousin. She loves Hardress and wants to marry him. After his crime is discovered, however, she marries Kyrle, realizing at last that he is much the better man.
Mrs. Cregan, Hardress’ mother. Not knowing her son is already married, she throws him and Ann together and tries to make a match between them.
Danny Mann, Hardress’ devoted servant, a cruel hunchback. He kills Eily to get her out of her husband’s way. When he confesses his crime to avenge a beating by Hardress, he is found guilty and hanged.