Monseigneur Charles François-Bienvenu Myriel Saintly bishop whose compassionate treatment causes the reformation of the ex-convict Valjean. He is also called "M. Bienvenu."
Mlle. Baptistine Sister of the bishop.
Mme. Magliore Housekeeper for the bishop and his sister.
Jean Valjean Ex-convict still pursued by the law, who strives for moral perfection and achieves a kind of sainthood in his love for the little orphan Cosette. He is also known as M. Madeleine and M. Leblanc.
Little Gervais Chimney sweep from whom Valjean steals a coin, his last criminal act for which Javert inexorably trails him.
Fantine A beautiful girl of unknown parentage who comes to Paris at the age of fifteen. She falls in love with Tholomyès and bears an illegitimate child, Cosette. Forced to give up her child, Fantine is crushed and ultimately destroyed by adversity.
Cosette Illegitimate daughter of Fantine, originally named Euphrasie. She has a wretched childhood as the ward of the brutal innkeeper Thénardier but later finds happiness in Valjean's devoted care and in the love of a young man.
Félix Tholomyès A student, Fantine's lover, and father of Cosette.
Thénardier An evil innkeeper who mistreats Cosette during her childhood, lures Valjean into an ambush, and commits various other crimes. He is also known as Jondrette and Fabantou.
Mme. Thénardier A virago whose sweeping malevolence spares only her husband and her two daughters.
Eponine Older daughter of the Thénardiers. As a child she is spoiled at Cosette's expense; later she becomes a ragged, hungry adolescent. Her love for Marius first endangers, then saves his life.
Azelma Second daughter of the Thénardiers. Spoiled at first, her life becomes as miserable as her sister's.
Gavroche The Thénardiers' oldest son, a typical Paris gamin. He dies heroically at the barricades in the revolution of 1832.
Two little boys The Thénardiers' youngest children. Given by their parents to an acquaintance, Magnon, they wander the streets of Paris after she is arrested. Gavroche's protection gives them temporary solace.
Inspector Javert An incorruptible policeman. He makes it his life's work to track down Jean Valjean.
Fauchelevent Valjean, as Madeleine, saves his life; Fauchelevent later is gardener at the convent of the Little Picpus and gives shelter to Valjean and Cosette.
Bamatabois An idler of the town who torments Fantine by putting snow down her back.
Champmathieu The man accused of being Jean Valjean, on whose behalf "Madeleine" reveals his true identity.
Sister Simplicity A nun who lies to save Valjean from Javert.
Boulatruelle An old roadworker, ex-convict, and minor associate of the underworld chiefs. He is constantly seeking buried treasure in the forest near Montfermeil.
The Prioress Head of the convent where Valjean and Cosette live for several years.
Mestienne and Gribier The two gravediggers. Mestienne, friend of Fauchelevent, dies suddenly, and his place is taken by Gribier, nearly causing Valjean to be buried alive.
M. Gillenormand Relic of the Enlightenment, he is hostile to the romantic love and liberal politics of his grandson Marius.
Mlle. Gillenormand Gillenormand's daughter, a lackluster old maid whose interests are limited to devotional practices.
Marius Pontmercy An idealistic student who falls passionately in love with Cosette and later marries her.
Colonel Georges Pontmercy Marius' father, an officer of Napoleon's, named by him a colonel, a baron, and an officer of the Legion of Honor.
Lieutenant Théodule Gillenormand M. Gillenormand's grandnephew. He is asked to spy on his cousin Marius.
Magnon Friend of Mme. Thénardier. She bears two illegitimate boys, for whom M. Gillenormand, her former employer, pays all expenses. When the boys die, the Thénardiers gladly give her their two youngest sons in exchange for a share of the money.
M. Mabeuf An old horticulturist and bibliophile, now a churchwarden. He is instrumental in revealing to Marius the truth about his father. Later, driven by destitution, he dies a heroic death at the barricades.
Mother Plutarch Servant of M. Mabeuf; shares his poverty to the end.
Montparnasse, Claquesous, Gueulemer, and Babet The four chiefs of the Paris underworld, occasionally associated with Thénardier.
Enjolras An uncompromising political radical who dies courageously as the leader of a group of student insurrectionists.
Grantaire Enjolras' friend. He is a drunken cynic who redeems a useless existence by sharing Enjolras' death before a firing squad.
Combeferre Friend of Enjolras and second in command of the student insurrectionists.
Courfeyrac A student. With Enjolras and Combeferre, he helps incite and lead the insurrection.
Jean Prouvaire A friend of Enjolras and one of the group of revolutionaries. He is rich, sensitive, and intelligent.
Bahoral A law student and revolutionary. He is good-humored and capricious, and refuses to be serious in his studies.
Joly A student. A hypochondriac, he is nevertheless a spirited and happy companion.
Bossuet A student revolutionary. Although he signs his name "Lègle (de Meaux)," he is called Bossuet (Bald), Laigle (The Eagle), and occasionally Lesgle.
Feuilly A self-taught worker, and an ardent insurrectionist
Le Cabuc Shoots a porter during the insurrection and is executed by Enjolras. May actually have been Claquesous.