Batman, the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight; we know him by a variety of monikers, but whatever name he is going by, Bruce Wayne is the hero and vigilante who is the only realistic hope for a safe and peaceful future for Gotham City. Wayne is physically strong, and emotionally solid. He is Gotham's protector because he has realized that Gotham's police force is completely corrupt and incapable of doing its job correctly. In this film we see two oppositional sides of Batman; we see his "Bruce Wayne" side, which is softer, and conflicted about his feelings for ex-lover Rachel Dawes. We also see his "Batman" side grow harder and more stoic, the Joker bringing out an additional level of toughness. He is ultimately willing to ruin his own reputation as a hero for the good of the city. In daylight, Bruce Wayne is a slick trust-fund kid who is one of the most privileged citizens in Gotham, while at night he is a masked fighter for justice.
The Joker is the antagonist of the film, an arbiter of chaos and destruction. He is a psychopath, a murderer, and a criminal mastermind, sadistically motivated by ruining lives and taking innocent delights. What makes him most terrifying is the fact that he derives genuine pleasure from tormenting the citizens of Gotham, as well as terrorizing his fellow criminals. His penchant for maniacal laughter and his seeming indifference to pain are part of what makes him so terrifying. He is defined by his belief that he is simply ahead of his time, that he simply reflects the darkness that everyone in the world contains within them.
Lieutenant James Gordon
Gordon is an honest and incorruptible cop who works closely with Batman. He believes wholeheartedly in right and wrong and is a loyal husband and thoughtful researcher. At the end of the film, he is not at all happy with Batman's decision to take the blame for the murders committed by Harvey Dent and he is careful to tell his son that Batman is the real hero in this situation. After the assassination of Commissioner Loeb, he is promoted to Commissioner.
Pennyworth is Bruce Wayne's butler and is the one constant in Batman's life. He is not a yes-man to Bruce by any means, telling him when he feels that he is making the wrong decision. He is a father figure to Bruce and provides Bruce with wise advice when he needs it, often steering the young businessman towards the most heroic choice.
Harvey Dent is the District Attorney of Gotham City and one of Batman's strongest allies when it comes to cleaning up the streets of the city. While Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent do not get along especially well, as professional crime-fighters, the two men collaborate well with one another. After Rachel's death, however, Harvey is corrupted by the Joker and turned into a psychotic villain named Two-Face. As Two-Face, Dent murders and causes havoc, often deciding the fate of his victims with the flip of a coin. In spite of his turn to the dark side, he is remembered as a hero thanks to Batman's selflessness in taking the blame for Two-Face's crimes.
Rachel is Gotham's Assistant District Attorney. The former lover of Bruce Wayne, she is now romantically linked to Harvey Dent. She is killed early in the film as the result of havoc caused by the Joker. Before she dies, she pens a letter to Bruce telling him they can never be together and that she plans to marry Harvey, but the letter never gets to Bruce.
Fox has recently been promoted to C.E.O. of Wayne Enterprises, and now that he has learned about his employer's double life, has also become personal assistant to Bruce's Batman alter ego. He is a steady and calm ally to Bruce, helping him devise the abduction of Lau and use special technology to locate the Joker at the end of the film.
The Dark Knight Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Dark Knight is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.