Arvid Falk, a would-be poet. Unable to find a publisher for his poems, he takes a job on a newspaper. His poems are finally published, and he becomes, to all appearances, a successful journalist. Disillusioned, however, because he is never allowed to report the news honestly as he sees it, he moves from paper to paper and eventually suffers a mental breakdown. After his recovery, he becomes a conventional schoolmaster and marries a schoolmistress.
Charles Nicholas Falk
Charles Nicholas Falk, Arvid Falk’s brother, a businessman. He emerges unscathed from a financial disaster to go on to further material successes.
Mrs. Charles Nicholas Falk
Mrs. Charles Nicholas Falk, Charles Nicholas Falk’s self-indulgent, socially ambitious young wife.
Levin, a clerk, and
Nystrom, a schoolmaster, fawning cronies of Charles Nicholas Falk.
Sellen, a painter. For reasons having nothing to do with art, he becomes celebrated as a painter and, to all appearances, a highly successful young man.
Lundell, a practical painter who earns money by illustrating magazines.
Rehnhjelm, a young man who ardently desires to be an actor. As a member of a theatrical company, he falls idealistically in love with Agnes. When he learns that she is Falander’s mistress, he threatens suicide, but he recovers from the affair and returns to the security of his wealthy family.
Olle Montanus, a philosopher and sculptor. Finally, unable to work except as a stone mason, he takes his own life.
Ygberg, a philosopher who argues with the artists and writers in the Red Room.
Falander, an elderly fellow actor of Rehnhjelm and Agnes’ lover.
Borg, a cynical young doctor who is Arvid Falk’s friend and benefactor. Expecting nothing from life, he alone remains unchanged among the changing fortunes and ideals of Arvid’s friends and associates.
Agnes (Beda Petterson), who, as Agnes, a sixteen-year-old ingenue and the mistress of Falander, inspires the idealistic love of Rehnhjelm. As Beda Petterson, a worker in a Stockholm café, she is loved by Arvid Falk.
Smith, a publisher.
Struve, a journalist.