Thérèse Desqueyroux (tay-REHZ dehs-keh-REW), a charming, introspective woman and the wife of Bernard Desqueyroux. Disgusted by her marriage to a materialistic husband, she is attracted by Jean Azévédo, her sister-in-law’s lover. She tries to poison Bernard and is saved from conviction only by his desire to avoid scandal. Bernard allows her to move to Paris, where, years later, she is found by her daughter Marie, who has followed her lover there. Thérèse tries to help Marie, only to find that the lover, Georges Filhot, loves her, not her daughter. She confesses to him her crimes, real and imaginary, and advises him to break with Marie. She then sinks into a paranoiac state, imagining plots against her. Marie takes her back home, where, regaining her sanity, she prepares for death and deliverance from herself.
Bernard Desqueyroux, her husband, a provincial landowner filled with family pride and love of possessions. When Thérèse tries to poison him, he invents an explanation that saves her, thus avoiding scandal.
Marie Desqueyroux, their daughter, in love with Georges Filhot.
Georges Filhot (zhohrzh fee-LOT), a student, Marie’s lover; later, he is in love with Thérèse.
Anne de la Trave
Anne de la Trave (ahn deh lah trahv), Bernard’s half sister, who is in love with Jean Azévédo.
Jean Azévédo (zhah[n] ah-zay-vay-DOH), a young intellectual, in love with Anne but attracted to Thérèse.