Joseph Garcin – His cowardice and callousness caused his young wife to die "of grief" after his execution. He is from France and died after deserting during the invasion of France in World War II. He was unfaithful to his wife – he even recalls, without any sympathy, bringing home another woman one night, and his wife bringing them their morning coffee after hearing their engagement all night. Initially, he hates Inèz because she understands his weakness, and wants Estelle because he feels that if she treats him as a man he will become manly. However, by the end of the play he understands that because Inèz understands the meaning of cowardice and wickedness, only absolution at her hands can redeem him (if indeed redemption is possible). In a later translation and adaptation of the play by American translator Paul Bowles, Garcin is renamed Vincent Cradeau.
Inèz Serrano – Inèz is the second character to enter the room. A lesbian postal clerk, she turned a wife against her husband, twisting the wife's perception of her spouse and the subsequent murder of the man (who is Inèz' cousin). Indeed, Inèz seems to be the only character who understands the power of opinion, manipulating Estelle's and Garcin's opinions of themselves and of each other throughout the play. She is honest about the evil deeds she, Garcin, and Estelle have done. She frankly acknowledges the fact that she is a cruel person.
Estelle Rigault – Estelle is a high-society woman, who married an older man for his money and had an affair with a younger man. To her, the affair is merely an insignificant fling, but her lover becomes emotionally attached to her and she bears him a child. She drowns the child by throwing it off the balcony of a hotel into the sea, which drives her lover to commit suicide. Throughout the play she tries to get at Garcin, seeking to define herself as a woman in relation to a man. Her sins are deceit and murder (which also motivated a suicide). She lusts over "manly men", which Garcin himself strives to be.
Valet – The Valet enters the room with each character, but his only real dialogue is with Garcin. We learn little about him, except that his uncle is the head valet, and that he does not have any eyelids, which links to Garcin because Garcin's eyelids are atrophied.