The 39 Steps: characters

The 39 Steps: Characters

Main Characters

  • Richard Hannay: The protagonist, who is falsely accused of murder. He is a Canadian in London, who becomes an accidental hero after being drawn into a web of pre-WWII espionage. He is quick-witted, resourceful, and adaptable, able to outsmart both the law and the enemy spies.

  • The Professor: The main antagonist, who is a leader of the spy ring. He is intelligent, ruthless, and skilled in deception.

Women in the narrative

  • Annabella Smith: A mysterious woman, who is later revealed to be a spy. Her murder launches the main plot of the story. Prior to her murder, she informs Hannay about the existence of a plot to smuggle military secrets out of the country, triggering his involvement in these events.

  • Pamela: A major female character who initially doubts Hannay, but becomes his ally. Although she is somewhat sceptical and unsure of Hannay’s innocence, she assists him by the end, showcasing her own bravery and intelligence.

Supporting Characters in the espionage

  • Mr. Memory: A music-hall act with an ‘infallible’ memory. He memorises the secret plans unknowingly, making him a target. His character emphasises the theme of performance within real life.

  • Scudder: Annabella’s contact and a major agent in capturing the Professor. His character adds to the web of espionage and intrigue.

Humor & Tension Creators

  • Crofter and his Wife: The couple shelter Hannay while he’s on the run. Their domestic issues and tense relationship offer a moment of comic relief from the plot’s suspense and danger.

  • Several Police Officers and Special Agents: These characters represent the law throughout the play and they constantly pursue Hannay, believing him to be a murderer. Their dogged pursuit provides tension and suspense throughout.

Minor Characters

  • Various other minor characters including butlers, innkeepers, political rally leaders, etc. They add to the colourful, sprawling world of the play and often contribute to the humour and wit of the story.