Johannes Rosmer, a former clergyman who has become a freethinker. He wants to work for the liberal cause in politics, but he is denounced by both sides. The conservatives believe that he has forsaken his class, and the liberals think he will be a political liability. Both sides also accuse him of forcing his wife to commit suicide so he could marry Rebecca West. When Rosmer asks West to die to prove her love for him, he commits suicide with her, as punishment for loving a woman other than his wife.
Beata Rosmer, Johannes’ dead wife. She kills herself before the action of the play to make way for Rebecca West in her husband’s affections, after being told falsely by the other woman of the imminent birth of a child by Johannes.
Rebecca West, a freethinking woman who uses her charms to try to claim Rosmer for the liberal cause. She also wants him as a man and drives his wife to suicide. She comes to love Rosmer deeply and commits suicide to prove her love for him.
Rector Kroll, Beata Rosmer’s brother, the local schoolteacher. He is an ardent conservative who tries to encourage Rosmer to forget the liberals. When he is rebuffed, he accuses Rosmer of adultery with Rebecca West and of driving his wife to suicide. Kroll is a bitter, narrow man.
Peter Mortensgard, a liberal newspaper publisher. He solicits Rosmer’s help until he learns that Rosmer, a former pastor, has left his church and become something of an outcast. Then, like Kroll, he accuses Rosmer of adultery. He is a practical politician and an amoral one.
Ulric Brendel, a liberal. He goes penniless and unrewarded, but happy, until he becomes disillusioned by the actions of his fellow liberals.
Mme Helseth, Rosmer’s housekeeper.