Moses Elkanah Herzog The narrator is a Ph.D. and a professor, forty-seven years old. Through him, we are given a highly emotional analysis of memories, events, and other characters. He is listed in Who's Who in America, but he has been unable to work since his wife cheated on him and divorced him. The novel centers around his efforts to purge himself of neuroses and to revenge himself.
Madeleine Pontritter Herzog (Mady) Herzog's second wife has recently divorced him. She is a sensuous, hysterical, extravagant woman caught up in her religious obsessions and her need to be with exceptional people. Her affair with Gersbach was the shock that began Herzog's painful self-examination.
Valentine Gersbach Herzog is driven to despair when he discovers that his best friend, a one-legged, flamboyant radio announcer, has stolen his wife. He is one of several challenged people in the story who exhibits romantic, melodramatic emotions.
Ramona Donsell A Jewess of mixed heritage from Argentina, she wants to marry Herzog. She offers him sexual release from his intellectual and psychological problems. Her stability sharply contrasts with Madeleine's tempestuous nature.
Simkin The first so-called reality-instructor in the novel, he is Herzog's New York lawyer and tells Herzog to become more practical and hard-boiled.
Sandor Himmelstein Herzog's Chicago lawyer, who handled his affairs during the divorce. He is another reality-instructor and another physically challenged person. He too is a realist and preaches pragmatism and pessimism.
Dr. Edvig A psychiatrist who treats Herzog by making Madeleine the center of analysis. He is obsessed with "Protestant Freudianism."
Daisy Herzog's first wife, contrasted with Madeleine by her patient, enduring stability.
Sono Oguki One of Herzog's mistresses. He gave her up for Mady.
Phoebe Gersbach Valentine's stoical, meek, suffering wife.
Tennie Pontritter Madeleine's long-suffering mother.
Beatrice Himmelstein Sandor's pretty, sensitive wife.
Fritz Pontritter A Bohemian impresario now separated from his wife and living a garish existence. Another domineering personality, he pities Herzog for his passivity.
Lucas Asphalter Herzog's friend, a forty-five-year-old zoologist, who first told Herzog that he was a cuckold. Lucas once had a morbid affinity for a tubercular monkey.
Geraldine Portnoy Asphalter's girl friend, June's baby sitter, and once a student of Herzog's. On several occasions, she is the bearer of bad news for the naive Herzog.
Zelda Umschand Madeleine's aunt who takes sides against Herzog, although she sympathizes with him.
Herman Umschand Zelda's husband, a Chicago politician with dubious criminal connections. He tries to distract Herzog from the truth about Mady.
Libbie Vane Sissler Herzog's friend, she is twice divorced and nearing the age of forty. She is another woman drawn to the protagonist by pity.
Arnold Sissler Libbie's third husband, a man in his fifties.
Monsignor Hilton The Catholic priest who struggles with Herzog and wins control of Madeleine's spiritual life.
William Herzog (Willie) Herzog's brother is asthmatic, materialistic, and successful. In contrast to Moses, he has adjusted to the demands of American society.
Shura Herzog Herzog's other brother, a multimillionaire, a pragmatist and realist who is contemptuous of Herzog's sloppy emotions.
Helen Herzog The protagonist's aesthetic, idealistic sister.
June Herzog Herzog's daughter, the only "genuine" result of his union with Madeleine.
Egbert Shapiro A dumpy, ill-humored scholar full of pseudo-intellectual historical details. Herzog reviewed one of his books.
Taube Kaplitzky Herzog Jonah's second wife and Herzog's arthritic, aging stepmother.
Nachman A boyhood friend of the narrator who lives a life filled with nihilistic despair.
Jonah Herzog Moses' father, who blundered his way through a series of unlucky financial ventures and brought his family from Montreal to Chicago.
Sarah Herzog The sentimental, loving mother from whom Herzog inherited his dreamy, romantic nature.
Zipporah Yaffe Jonah's sister, a strong-minded, pragmatic, ambitious Jewish woman living on the outskirts of Montreal.
Uncle Yaffe Zipporah's husband, who owned a junkyard in St. Anne, Quebec.