The Marquis de Sade—a brilliant, possibly mad writer of edgy erotica. Both passionate and petulant, he is a contrary figure who manipulates everyone inside and outside the asylum.
Abbe de Coulmier—a naïf given the unlikely task of taming the marquis, halting his incendiary writings, and encouraging him to embrace a new morality.
Dr. Royer-Collard—in charge of the Charenton Asylum, he seeks order at any cost, including torture. The doctor is a man for whom reputation and appearances mean everything.
Renee Pelagie—the disgruntled wife of the marquis who seeks to silence her husband in order to restore her sullied name.
Madeleine LeClerc—a cleaning woman working at Charenton alongside her blind mother. She delights in the marquis’s sordid tales.
Monsieur Prioux—a renowned architect in charge of remodeling the doctor’s house to meet the desires of the doctor’s wife.
A lunatic—an imposing Charenton resident who is heard but not seen.