Elder Martin Chuzzlewit
Martin Chuzzlewit is an old man whose family is cursed with a long history of greed and fighting over money. Because of this, he keeps himself distanced from his entire family, whom he sees as selfish and ill intentioned. He is the guardian of Mary and has a grandson named Martin. The elder Martin and younger Martin have a falling out over Mary, whom the younger Martin has fallen in love with.
Mr. Pecksniff is highly respected as an architect and a man of learning in his town. However, he has puffed himself up with his own importance, and beneath his facade of piousness he is a greedy and self-centered man. He takes on students and milks them for any money their guardians have and then claims their ideas for himself. He treats his ex-pupil, Tom Pinch, poorly even though Tom idolizes him. He has two daughters whom he adores, Charity and Mercy.
Younger Martin Chuzzlewit
The younger Martin Chuzzlewit is a proud young man who quarreled with his grandfather and was cut off. The source of the quarrel was Martin's feelings for his grandfather's ward, Mary. Martin goes out to seek his fortune, hoping to be able to support Mary without his grandfather's money. He becomes great friends with Mark Tapley in the process, and as a result of the friendship grows into a much less self-centered man. Martin and Mark have many adventures in America together that change both of them.
Jonas is the son of Anthony Chuzzlewit and younger Martin's cousin. He is an angry, violent man who is obsessed with money. He prefers to get money by duping other people if possible. When his father dies, he is worried that people will think that he killed his father for his money, as he has often complained that his father is still living just to spite Jonas. Jonas and Mr. Pecksniff become friends, and Jonas becomes Mr. Pecksniff's son-in-law.
Tom Pinch is the previous student of Mr. Pecksniff, who charged Tom's grandmother all she had for Tom's tuition. Tom loves to play the organ and is a trusting, peaceful man. Everyone in the town loves him and thinks highly of him. He worships Mr. Pecksniff and thinks that he is the epitome of a good man, though Mr. Pecksniff takes advantage of Tom and doesn't treat him with a lot of generosity. Tom's friend John Westlock disapproves of Tom's trust in Mr. Pecksniff and of the way Mr. Pecksniff treats Tom.
Mark is first an employee of Mrs. Lupin at the Blue Dragon, and later valet and friend to the younger Martin Chuzzlewit on his adventures in America. Mark leaves the Blue Dragon because he says the work has become too enjoyable, and there is no credit to be earned from being happy in an easy life. This is why he goes to America with Martin. Mark charms everyone he meets with his positive attitude and his compassion. He never complains about difficulties, even helping others in the midst of his own problems.
John Westlock has just finished his studies with Mr. Pecksniff, whom he can't stand. Mr. Pecksniff knows that John sees through him, so he dislikes him and badmouths him at any chance he gets. Tom is a good friend of John's, however, and sticks by him even though Mr. Pecksniff disapproves of the friendship. John leaves Mr. Pecksniff's to go to London, where he comes into money and proceeds to help his friends out when they are in need.