Adam Bede The stalwart, forthright young workman whose rise to maturity provides the focus for the novel.
Dinah Morris A saintly young woman, a Methodist preacher, who helps and comforts all those around her. She serves as one of the examples of good morality in the novel and eventually becomes Adam's wife.
Arthur Donnithorne Grandson and heir of the local landowner. A weak character who triggers the crisis in the novel by seducing Hetty Sorrel.
Hetty Sorrel A vain young farm girl whose desire for social position makes her ignore Adam's love and accept Arthur's less honorable advances.
The Reverend Mr. Irwine The rector of Broxton. A fine, upstanding man who forms the other example of excellent morality. Eliot's principal mouthpiece for her theory of ethical determinism.
Mrs. Poyser A boisterous farmwife, aunt of Dinah Morris, who provides much of the comedy in the novel.
Mr. Poyser An industrious and responsible tenant who is proprietor of the Hall Farm and uncle of Hetty Sorrel.
Bartle Massey An abrasive old gentleman with an obsessive prejudice against women. The local schoolmaster.
Lisbeth Adam's mother, an insecure old woman who complains ceaselessly.
Seth Adam's brother, a gentle young man who stands by Adam with steadfast loyalty.
Mrs. Irwine Mr. Irwine's mother, an aristocratic old lady.
Miss Kate and Miss Anne Mr. Irwine's maiden sisters. Anne is an invalid.
Squire Donnithorne Arthur's grandfather, owner of the estate. He is a dry, unpleasant, hypocritically polite old man.
Lydia Donnithorne Arthur's aunt, a staid, formal spinster.
Molly A servant girl at the Hall Farm.
Marty and Tommy The Poysers' sons.
Totty The Poysers' three-year-old daughter, her mother's favorite.
Alick Shepherd at the Hall Farm.
Mr. Casson The local innkeeper, former butler at the Chase, the Donnithorne mansion.
Joshua Rann The parish clerk and choir leader.
Wiry Ben One of Adam's co-workers at the carpentry shop. An impudent, talkative young man.
Chad Cranage The village blacksmith.
Chad's Bess Chad Cranage's daughter. She throws away her earrings under the influence of Dinah's preaching.
Timothy's Bess A cousin of Chad's Bess.
"Feyther" Taft The oldest man in Hayslope.
Mr. Craig Gardener at the Chase.
Luke Britton A neighboring farmer whom Mr. Poyser dislikes.
Old Martin Poyser Mr. Poyser's father.
Colonel Townley A magistrate who watches Dinah preach and later admits her to the jail to see Hetty.
Thias Bede Adam's father. His death plays a part in Adam's development