Marie, a baroness who leaves her husband to marry Axel. She is a petite, beautiful woman in her early thirties. If Axel’s early narrative is to be trusted, she has an angelic quality. She is unhappy with her marriage to Baron Gustav because he is both poor and unfaithful but especially because she wishes to pursue her consuming passion to be an actress. Her marriage to Axel allows her to pursue this career, which falters either because she cannot act or because Axel, afraid of losing her and resentful of her success, does not offer sufficient help. If Axel’s narrative is to be trusted, and this is doubtful, she is an adulteress, fickle to the extreme, a spendthrift, an unfit mother, and a bisexual. Moreover, he claims that she is intent on driving him insane with her flirtations. It appears that she really does care very little about motherhood and that she may have had one affair (among the hundreds of which she is accused), but given Axel’s state of mind, it is impossible to be certain.
Gustav, a baron, Marie’s first husband. At thirty years of age, he is disappointed with his life and seems intent on dissipating in drinking, gambling, and womanizing. A baron in title only, he has lost his fortune. He maintains his marriage to Marie merely for the sake of appearances; he is having an affair with Matilda, Marie’s eighteen-year-old cousin. Marie eventually divorces him and marries Axel.
Matilda, Marie’s pretty but empty-headed young cousin. When Axel is first invited to the home of the baron and baroness, he supposes that Matilda is Marie’s companion. He eventually learns, however, that Matilda is invited there to continue her affair with the baron, who has lost interest in his wife.