Enoch Arden, a fisherman. He marries his childhood playmate Annie and has seven happy years of marriage with her. He is then injured, and their prosperity vanishes in his months of recuperation. He sells his fishing boat to set up Annie as a trader to support their three children in his absence, then sails on a merchantman. Shipwrecked on a desert island, he worries constantly about his family. Years later, he gets back to England. There, learning that Annie is happily married and the mother of a new baby, he does not reveal his identity until he is on his deathbed.
Annie Lee, his wife. A poor businesswoman and burdened by grief, her difficulties continue until, more than ten years after Enoch’s disappearance, another former childhood playmate asks her to marry him. She insists that they wait another year and a half, and even then she is not thoroughly happy and at peace until their child is born.
Philip Ray, Enoch’s friend, secretly in love with Annie since childhood. Only well after Enoch’s presumed death does he disclose his love. A miller’s son, he is well-to-do.
Miriam Lane, a widowed tavernkeeper. Enoch takes lodgings with her on his return. It is she who tells him about Annie and Philip and to whom he relates his story on his deathbed.