Emanuel Hansted, a Danish clergyman from the upper classes of Copenhagen who throws in his lot politically with the peasants and their People’s Party when he is sent to a rural pastorate. In his efforts to prove himself one of the peasantry, he marries a peasant girl and tries to farm an acreage. His efforts to farm are futile, and his rural parishioners see him only as a misfit. Though he is stubbornly sincere, he is a failure. Given a chance to visit with people of his own class, he sees his mistakes and sadly returns to Copenhagen, leaving his wife but taking his children with him.
Hansine, the minister’s peasant wife. She loves her husband and presents him with three children, one of whom dies when the father neglects the child. Hansine, visited by Miss Tonnesen, realizes that her husband is still really an upper-class city man, not a peasant. She tells him he ought to return to the city and that she ought to return to her father’s farm.
Miss Tonnesen, Emanuel’s former fiancée. She represents all Hansted gives up, and her visit to the rectory persuades both the Hansteds of the minister’s mistakes. As the daughter of the former rector in the same parish, she is horrified at the rundown condition of the rectory and the extent of Hansted’s failure.
Mr. Hansted, Emanuel’s father, a well-to-do conservative. He is happy when his son decides to return to the city and his old home.
Dr. Hassing, a physician in Hansted’s parish. He sees the failure of the minister and gives the man an opportunity to be with people from his own class again.