Clarissa is loving, compassionate, social, and skeptical, with a deep reserve of intelligence and melancholy. Though she loves life, she thinks often about death and terrible events that might happen. Nostalgia and pain, especially when thinking of Peter Walsh and Sally Seton, affect even happy memories. She has grown more subdued and conventional since her radical youth. Well dressed and married to a conservative politician, she is concerned with keeping her rank in society. Physically, she is slim, pale, and vivacious. Her neighbor compares her to a blue jay.
Septimus Warren Smith
Septimus, a former poet, has a naturally contemplative and reflective personality. Physically, he is "pale-faced" and "beak-nosed" with hazel eyes. After World War I, in which he saw the death of his friend and comrade Evans, Septimus suffers from severe shell shock. He loses his ability to connect to emotions, and his thoughts become scattered and frantic. He also suffers frequent flashbacks.
Peter is intelligent, critical, and discontented with the status quo. He proposed marriage to Clarissa before the novel begins, but she rejected him and married Richard. He still loves Clarissa deeply but rejects what he considers her worldliness and desire for wealth. His time in India has given him a different perspective on world affairs, and he considers people around him small-minded.
Richard is a practical, kind man. His inner life is not as tormented or complicated as the lives of the other main characters. He believes in the values of the Conservative party and enjoys simple pleasures like the country and dogs. He is deeply devoted to his wife and daughter.
Elizabeth is quiet and introspective. She loves nature, the country, and animals, and prefers solitude to parties. She has an unusual, dark beauty, with wide-set eyes. Despite her multiple suitors, she has no interest in a relationship. She is curious about the world and longs for more freedom.
Rezia Warren Smith
Lucrezia misses Italy and longs for a child. She is supportive of Septimus and tries to help ground him to the real world. She and Septimus have a tense marriage, mostly because of his shell shock and flights of imagination, but she loves him and considers most of her memories to be happy. She is petite and has "large eyes in a sallow pointed face."
Sally was an outsider at Clarissa's youthful gatherings, but her intelligence and wit quickly endeared her to Peter and Clarissa. She spoke her mind frequently, setting her apart from other women of the time, who behaved with traditional decorum. She and Clarissa had an intimate emotional relationship, culminating in a kiss. Later she marries a well-established man and has five children, choosing a conventional life despite her radical youth.