Point Counter Point, Huxley’s greatest novelistic success except for Brave New World, is a complex work involving a multitude of characters who represent various extremes of imbalance in earthly life, imbalances that detract from naturalness and harmony. As such, these characters are the most inclusive presentation of Huxley’s ideas about erroneous human values and actions and about the complex social, political, economic, and psychological causes of such actions and values.
The novel unfolds in a very diffuse way. The introductory section is structured around a party given by Lord Edward Tantamount and his wife, which is attended by a multitude of the “rich and famous,” including nearly all of the characters whose lives are alternately focused upon in the rest of the novel. At the party, the central conflict is also foreshadowed, that between the socialist Illidge, Lord Tantamount’s scientific assistant, and the ultraconservative, capitalistically privileged leader of a reactionary political group, Everard Webley. That plotline then develops with Spandrell’s very Freudian and psychologically violent perverseness contributing to the radical violence implicit within Illidge’s perspective. (Spandrell has been too psychologically attached to his mother, and her remarriage devastates him, turning him into a pathological being, the villain of the novel.) At Spandrell’s urging, he and Illidge eventually perform the central action of the novel, the murder of Webley. That murder leads to the novel’s climactic moment, the somewhat tragically heroic decision by...
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