Viola/Cesario: A girl in a shipwreck, Viola is rescued by the captain. She has a twin brother who she loves very much who she thinks died in the shipwreck. Forced to dress like a boy in order to get a position in a royal household, Viola takes on the name Cesario. Count Orsino, whom she works for, takes to her immediately and promotes her. While in the service of Orsino, Viola is a dedicated messenger pleading for his cause, although she is in love with him. Confused by the situation in which she was put, Viola does not know how to untangle the knots that arose because of her cross-dressing. She is as honest as possible in her situation and avoids conflict.
Olivia: the Countess of Illyria, devastated by the deaths of her relatives, refuses to marry or receive men. She believes that Count Orsino is too above her in age and station for marriage. She is intrigued by Orsino’s messenger and ends up falling in love with him. In her home, she has to deal with drunken relatives, stupid suitors, and a haughty Steward. She is persistent in denying the Count, and once she makes her decision to marry Cesario, she does not give in.
Maria: the faithful servant of Lady Olivia, Maria is responsible for the prank played on Malvolio. She wants to teach him a lesson because of his uppity attitude.
Sir Toby Belch: Olivia’s drunken kinsman, Sir Toby refuses to give up his lush lifestyle. He participates in the prank with Malvolio, and instigates the fight between Cesario and Sir Andrew. He does not believe that Lady Olivia should stay single, and tries to get her to marry his friend, Sir Andrew.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek: a destitute knight trying to replenish his fortune by marrying Lady Olivia, Sir Andrew is a cowardly fool. He spends his time with Sir Toby drinking, and at times, wooing Maria. He tries to give up his suit on Olivia, but Sir Toby advises him against it.
Feste the Fool: a jester in both Olivia’s and Orsino’s household, the Fool plays many roles. He is witty, a trickster, a devoted messenger, and a singer. He helps play the prank on Malvolio by acting like the preacher.
Fabian: another gentleman in Olivia’s household, Fabian takes part in the fight with Sebastian, and the prank on Malvolio.
Orsino: the leader of Illyria, the Count is madly in love with Lady Olivia. He is confused, however, because he also falls for Cesario, though he does not realize it until he finds out Cesario is actually Viola.
Valentine and Curio: two gentlemen in Orsino’s house who deliver the news about Lady Olivia’s initial rejections to him.
Sebastian: Viola’s twin brother who travels to Illyria, beats up Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, and who falls in love with Lady Olivia. He agrees to marry her, and solves the tangled situation in which his sister’s hidden identity creates.
Antonio: a friend of Sebastian’s who saves him in the shipwreck. He risks his safety to travel with Sebastian to Illyria. Though generous to Sebastian, he is a wanted man in Illyria and is captured by the Count’s men while saving Viola.
Captain: saves Viola in the shipwreck and helps her get her position in Orsino’s household.
Priest: the man who betroths Sebastian and Olivia.
Two Officers: the men who capture Antonio and take him to Count Orsino.