Mole has a sudden case of spring fever, and bravely sets out to wander the fields and meadows. He finds himself by a river for the first time in his life. There, he meets Rat who invites Mole into his boat, something else he has never seen before. They visit Toad -him of "the finest house on the whole river or anywhere else for that matter"- and hit the open road in horse-and-cart where they meet with an accident which cuts short their adventure and introduces Toad to his latest obsession and eventual downfall: the motor-car.
A world of friendships, the joy of carefree wandering, of picnicking, and playing has opened for Mole. He meets Badger, paying him a visit in the Wild Woods and at the end of the novel, the four are forced to join together to try and recapture Toad Hall which has been taken over by Stoats and Weasels.
The Wind in the Willows shows us a quartet of endearing characters, friends with real virtues contributing to each other’s moral growth.
Mole - Mole is arguably the most passionate of all of The Wind in the Willows characters. He is always willing to help another animal in need. He is new to the River Bank community and to the entire world above ground. In the beginning of the novel, he is much like a child, seeing everything for the first time. But he is also rather independent for someone so new to the area, which gets him into a lot of trouble. Towards the end of the novel, Mole ventures out alone, and in disguise and convinces the Stoats that a massive attack is coming to Toad Hall. This makes their small ambush more effective and also shows how much wiser he has become in the ways of the above ground world.
Rat - Rat, also known as River Rat and Ratty, is one of the four central figures in the novel. One of the first noticeable characteristics about Rat is his generosity. He is the first person that Mole meets above ground, and Rat welcomes him to the River Bank by taking him on a boat ride and bringing along a picnic for them to share. Coming home after the picnic, Rat invites Mole to stay at his house for the night. The novel spans roughly a year, and Mole lives in Rat's house for almost that entire time.
Badger - Badger, sometimes referred to as Mr. Badger, commands great respect as well as fear among the animals. Rat is the first to mention him: "Dear old Badger! Nobody interferes with him. They'd better not." By the end of the novel, he is especially feared by the Weasels. Although he is wise, respected, and feared, he is not above being compassionate and forgiving.
Toad – Toad, sometimes referred to as Mr. Toad, is the driving force for the plot twists of a large portion of the book. His automobile craze leads to him stealing a car and getting sentenced to twenty years in prison. He escapes from prison and returns home, being periodically pursued by the police on the way. He eventually finds himself at Rat's house, who tells him that the Stoats and Weasels have taken over his house. Thus the four principle characters must join together to recapture Toad Hall. He is self destructive and obsessed with his wealth.
The Jailer's Daughter - Takes care of Toad whilst he is in prison. She brings him meals, and they grow to like each other more and more, so much so that the jailer's daughter can no longer stand seeing Toad locked up. She devises a successful plan for him to escape in which Toad is disguised in the clothes of her aunt, who is the washerwoman for the jail.
Chief Weasel - He and a band of weasels, stoats, and ferrets and plots to take over Toad Hall whilst Toad is in prison.