Tevye: As the narrator and main character of this story, Tevye is the father of five daughters, an impoverished milkman, a leader in his Jewish community, and husband to the headstrong Golde. He is faced with struggles to uphold the traditions of his people, especially through the marriages of his daughters.
Golde: As Tevye’s wife of twenty-five years and mother of his five daughters, Golde is an efficient helpmate and traditionalist, faced with changes of a “new world.” She has a sharp tongue and wit. Her love of family helps her face the challenges that her family encounters.
Tzeitel: Tevye and Golde’s eldest daughter, Tzeitel is about twenty years old and in love with Motel, whom she eventually marries instead of Lazar Wolf.
Hodel: Tevye and Golde’s second daughter, Hodel falls in love with Perchik and they defy tradition by not seeking her father’s permission to marry, only his blessing. Later, she leaves Anatevka for Siberia to be with the imprisoned Perchik.
Chava: Tevye and Golde’s third daughter, Chava falls in love with Fyedka, a Russian, and is ordered to “never see him again.” They elope and her family disowns her, until the end when Tevye momentarily acknowledges them.
Shprintze: Tevye and Golde’s fourth daughter
Bielke: Tevye and Golde’s youngest daughter
Yente: The village’s matchmaker and busybody
Motel Kamzoil: An impoverished tailor and secretly pledged to Tzeitel, Motel gathers the courage to ask Tevye for her hand in marriage. He feels “even a poor tailor is entitled to some happiness.” They marry and start a family, which also includes the “new arrival” of a sewing machine.
Shandel: Motel’s mother
Perchik: A radical student from Kiev and later Hodel’s husband, Perchik leaves Anatevka to work for the revolution in Kiev. He is arrested and sent to prison in Siberia.
Lazar Wolf: A rich butcher, widower of Fruma-Sarah, and the man Yente the matchmaker sets as a match for Tzeitel
Mordcha: An innkeeper
Rabbi: Anatevka’s Jewish spiritual leader
Mendel: The Rabbi’s son
Avram: A bookseller
Nahum: A begger
Grandma Tzeitel: Golde’s late grandmother
Fruma-Sarah: Lazar Wolf’s late wife
Yussel: A hatter
Constable: A local Russian official, the constable, though he has a good relationship with Tevye, follows his orders to perform an “unofficial demonstration” during Tzeitel and Motel’s wedding, and then forces all the Jewish villagers to leave Anatevka.
Fyedka: A Russian villager and later Chava’s husband
Sasha: Fyedka’s friend