Esther Waters Characters

Esther Waters Character List

Esther Waters

Esther is your typical uneducated, lower-class girl who must seek employment in the domestic service sector. Although blessed with a smile that can warm the heart, her natural expression is rather dour and forlorn. Her life is wrecked by a tryst with another young servant which leaves her pregnant and unmarried. That unfortunate circumstances is made all the worse by her choice to buck convention and keep the child. Her piety and devotion to God make her a target of scorn among the other servants, but serve her well as she deals with the disgrace of becoming pregnant, the loss of her employment, hospital corruption, unending poverty, time spent in a workhouse, eventual marriage to her baby’s daddy whose involvement in gambling leaves Esther and the child penniless when his obsession leads to an early death.

William Latch

William is the son of the cook at the home where Esther first gains employment as a member of the serving staff. Like most of the rest of the staff, William is overly enthusiastic on the subject of gambling. He relieves Esther of her virginal innocence in pre-matrimonial conjugal bliss and thus sets the young woman on a lifetime course of desperation and disappointment. His promises of marriage turn to a surprise elopement with another girl in response to Esther’s perpetual state of sulk that he has not come through on that promise. The other girls leaves him and when he chances upon a reunion with Esther many years later, the promise is finally fulfilled. Like so many gamblers before him, William briefly rides high on a prosperous winning streak before the dice starts to roll against his favor, leaving him financially ruined and contributing to the worsening of his tuberculosis which ultimately kills him.


The offspring of Esther and William. Esther is entirely devoted to him and lives her life trying her best to provide a better life for him than she enjoyed herself.

Mrs. Barfield

Equally pious in her devotion, Mrs. Barfield is really Esther’s only friend during her initial time as a servant. She is forced by propriety to dismiss the young woman when she becomes pregnant. Nevertheless, after enduring much hardship, it is to Mrs. Barfield that Esther returns following the death of her husband. The old woman, widowed herself, is saved from living out her final days completely alone and impoverished.

Fred Parsons

Fred is dependable, honest and shares Esther’s religious devotion and so she agrees to marry him when he proposes. Fred is also extraordinarily boring in the eyes of her young son Jackie. When William re-enters the picture, Jackie makes his preference known. Even though Esther senses she will live to regret it, she gives in to her son’s desires and ultimately rejects Fred in favor of marrying William.

Mrs. Latch

William's mother, the cook of the house which she, her son and Esther serve. Mrs. Latch uses his seniority on the staff and position within the house to make life as difficult as possible for Esther without any apparent reason other than she simply suffers from a bad-tempered personality.

Peggy Barfield

The young cousin of Mrs. Barfield. She is the girl with whom William will unexpectedly elope, leaving Esther in the lurch.

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