Évariste Gamelin (ay-vah-REEST gahm-LAHN), a young painter. Convinced that the success of the Jacobin cause will bring about a new day for France, he becomes an ardent revolutionary genuinely desiring justice for all. Blinded by his passion for the cause, he gradually assumes the role of self-righteous reformer, and finally, as a member of the Grand Tribunal, orders the execution of people in lots without trial. Among them is his closest friend, Maurice Brotteaux. He thus becomes a symbol of the romantic whose devotion to a cause corrupts his humanity.
Maurice Brotteaux (moh-REES broh-TOH), Évariste Gamelin’s friend, an atheist and intellectual who lacks Gamelin’s faith in the goodness of the masses. Executed without trial by the tribunal of which Évariste is a member, he becomes a symbol of the intellectual who will not abandon his integrity for a cause in which he does not believe.
Élodie Blaise (ay-loh-DEE blehz), the seducer of Évariste Gamelin. Purely physical, without ideals or fidelity to any cause, she survives the Reign of Terror to become the mistress of the non-political Philippe Desmahis.
Jean Blaise (zhahn), a printseller and Élodie’s father.
Jacques David (zhahk dah-VEED), a painter and young Évariste Gamelin’s teacher.
Pére Longuemare (pehr lohn-geh-MAHR), a monk falsely accused as a thief and given refuge by Maurice Brotteaux, with whom he is finally convicted without trial and executed.
Madame de Rochemaure
Madame de Rochemaure (deh rohsh-MOHR), a revolutionary opportunist.
Henry (ahn-REE), a dragoon who is the lover of Madame de Rochemaure and Élodie Blaise.
Marat (mah-RAH) and
Robespierre (rohbs-PYEHR), French revolutionaries.
Athenaïs (ah-tay-nah-EES), a prostitute once befriended by Maurice Brotteaux and executed with him.
Madame Gamelin, Évariste Gamelin’s mother.
Julie Gamelin (zhew-LEE), Évariste’s sister.
Jacques Maubel (moh-BEHL), a young man convicted by Évariste Gamelin for lack of faith in the people and executed.
Philippe Desmahis (fee-LEEP day-may-EES), a non-political engraver who survives the Reign of Terror to become the lover of Élodie Blaise.