The Tramp, portrayed by Charlie Chaplin, is the protagonist of the film. He is a goofy clown, a clumsy yet graceful wide-eyed buffoon, who often finds himself in tricky and embarrassing situations (usually due to his unwieldy physicality), from which he tends to emerge victorious. His shabby clothes, cane, bowler hat, and eccentric shuffle protect his large heart. Throughout the film, he behaves gallantly towards complete strangers; he prevents the suicidal Millionaire from killing himself, and works tirelessly to procure the money for the Flower Girl to pay her rent. He is an ethical if absurd man, a kind of otherworldly trickster, an unlikely hero in a harsh world.
The Flower Girl
This young beautiful woman sells flowers on the street in order to make money for her and her grandmother. She is beautiful and kindhearted, but has been limited by poverty and blindness. Sweet and innocent, she is instantly taken with the Tramp (whom she mistakes for a wealthy man) because of his kindness towards her. The Flower Girl is exceedingly grateful for the money that the Tramp is able to get for her, and uses the money to go through a process to gain sight, and to open a flower shop of her own.
The Eccentric Millionaire
The Millionaire is a comic as well as a tragic figure. When we first meet him, he is tying a large rock around his neck, with plans to drown himself in the river. When the Tramp saves him, the Millionaire becomes elated, flattered that someone would care about him enough to save his life. When intoxicated, the millionaire vacillates between fits of mania and depression. One minute he is grabbing a gun with plans to shoot himself, the next he wants to go out dancing all night. Another curious aspect of the Millionaire's drunkenness is that when he is intoxicated, he knows who the Tramp is, and treats him as a dear friend, but when he is sober, he doesn't recognize his friend.
James, the butler
James is the Millionaire's butler, who does his bidding. He is the only character who is privy to the Millionaire's selective memory of the Tramp, yet he does nothing to remind the Millionaire of his oversight.
The Flower Girl's kindhearted grandmother.
City Lights Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for City Lights is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.