So are your characters doing/achieving what they are meant to do? Even where the character is meant to be a failure, is that being portrayed accurately? Is that failure crucial to their development and/or the plot?
It is vital that characters aren't just busy for the sake of being busy. Their "work", their contribution to the story must all be valid in its own right to justify its inclusion. One of my final edits, particularly on a novel, before I even think about submitting the work somewhere is to go through each character and cross examine why they are in the story at all. I ask myself could I do without them and if the answer to that is yes, then I cut them out.
My problem with novel writing is I overwrite. Now that's okay in that I find it easy to cut rather than pad (I think the need to pad material out is a more serious problem. It indicates the story isn't strong enough. No story should need padding). The moment I take out characters I could do without tends to remove that over writing and often gets the word count down to a more acceptable level so I end up curing more than one issue here.
And even in a fairytale, no amount of magic should ever save a character that's not pulling their weight!