The Reverend Michael Feversham
The Reverend Michael Feversham, a stern, conscientious vicar at Cleveheddon. He is full of moral fervor and has strong moral convictions, reinforced by his belief that his dead mother is his guardian angel. He learns through his attraction to Audrie Lesden what temptations of the flesh can be, and he commits adultery with her. He finally makes a public confession, as he had forced Rose Gibbard to do, and leaves his parish. He almost loses his faith but turns to Catholicism in the hope that he can be saved.
Rose Gibbard, a woman in the parish who commits adultery and bears a child. She is forced by the vicar to make a public confession because he believes that is the only way she can be absolved of sin. Later, she is sent to an Anglican religious house.
Andrew Gibbard, Rose’s father and the parish clerk. Although he knows Michael is conscientious, he cannot forgive the vicar for making Rose confess publicly. He has only scorn for the vicar until the clergyman makes a public confession of his own sin.
Audrie Lesden, a wealthy, attractive woman reputed to be a widow. She is attracted to Michael, but she is torn between wanting to be worthy of him and having worldly pleasures. She arranges to be left alone on an island overnight with him and takes him for her lover. She leaves the town for a while when her husband is heard from, but she returns after he is dead. Then the vicar tells her he cannot love her honorably. She dies loving the vicar, saying she will be his guardian angel.
Sir Lyolf Feversham
Sir Lyolf Feversham, a relative of the vicar. He tries to warn the vicar away from entanglements with Audrie.
Father Hilary, a Roman Catholic priest to whom the Anglican vicar turns for spiritual help when his original faith cannot sustain him.