King of France: Bertram's guardian and Helena's family friend, the king is assumed incurably ill at the play's beginning. However, he is persuaded by Helena to try her father's old remedy. He is cured and gives Helena the right to choose Bertram as a husband.
Duke of Florence: The leader of the Florentine cavalry unit into which Bertram enlists.
Bertram, count of Rossillion: The son of the countess of Rossillion, Bertram can easily be assumed to be unsympathetic, vain, or even cruel. However, his only real fault may be his youth and immaturity. He is still very young, untried, and inexperienced. By play's end, he has outgrown his restless youth and learned to value Helena. Even though she is strictly socially inferior to him, she is a noble match, and he will love her “dearly, ever, ever dearly” (5.3.316).
Lafew: Cynical, worldly-wise, and kindly, Lafew, an old French lord, is the friend of both Helena and the countess of Rossillion.
Parolles: A follower and friend of Bertram, Parolles is a stock rendition of the braggart soldier who is eventually exposed for what he really is. He is a merry, bawdy, rather unlikable person who leads Bertram astray as often as possible. His punishment is well deserved, but he provides a useful contrast to Bertram's gradual growth and maturity.
Steward, named Rinaldo: A servant to the countess of Rossillion.
Clown, named Lavatch: A servant to the countess of Rossillion.
A Page: A servant to the countess of Rossillion.
Two French Lords: The brothers Dumaine, serving in the Florentine army.
Countess of Rossillion: Bertram's mother and Helena's guardian, the countess consoles Helena when Bertram deserts her and tries to bring them together again. She is perhaps the most understanding character, since, at play's end, she encourages the king to forgive Bertram.
Helena: An orphan protected by the countess, Helena is strong-minded, interesting, and, above all, good. Some critics have commented that she lacks pride and that she is a trifle shrewish in chasing after a man who doesn't want her, but she is still a virtuous girl who wishes to marry honorably and, at the same time, to follow the call of her own heart.
A widow of Florence: The mother of Diana, the widow is an honest, kindly, moral woman who is glad to help Helena as long as her daughter's honor is not sacrificed.
Diana: The daughter of the widow of Florence, Diana is a quiet, honest maiden who gladly helps the wronged Helena by tricking Bertram.
Mariana: Neighbor to the widow and Diana.