The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

By the mid-1930’s, Lewis, that lonely old volcano of the Right, as Auden called him, began to enjoy his place as the “Enemy,” the British intellectual of the decade who could and would debunk the flourishing left-wing activities of the rest of his crowd. The Revenge for Love carries out such debunking through its three central characters: Percy, Victor, and Margot. As is often true of Lewis’ fictional creations, each character represents a cluster of political and moral values. Percy is a genuine lower-class figure who has become an organizer for the British Communist Party. Although he remains loyal to the party and to most of its tenets, he has lost any sense of idealism through his association with other party members and through his activity for the party in Spain. His attitudes toward leftists in general, and those of Lewis as well, are spelled out in his speech to Jill Communist, which results in his beating by Jack Cruze. In that speech, he offends the various parlor pinks, university leftists, radical dons, and artistic politicos in an attempt to get Jill to see the sham and fraud that infects the Socialist movement. Rather than showing Jill the light, however, he merely infuriates her with his truth-telling, and she retaliates by having him beaten. Her upper-class snootiness and his lower-class obedience in this scene take on a mockingly unegalitarian and decidedly non-Communistic flavor, which proves Lewis’ point about the depth of the commitment to socialism of such shallow figures as Jill.

It is to Percy that the story returns for its conclusion, and it is through his...

(The entire section is 661 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Percy Hardcaster

Percy Hardcaster, a fat Englishman of forty; he is five feet, eight inches tall and is a propagandist for the Communists in the Spanish Civil War. He has a little mustache, and he wears silver-rimmed spectacles. He is shot in the leg while trying to escape from a Spanish prison; infection sets in, and the leg must be amputated. He disputes the truth of Marxist politics with Gillian and is beaten by Jack Cruze. He runs guns into Spain with Victor Stamp; he is captured and returned to prison there.

Victor Stamp

Victor Stamp, a big Australian painter, twenty-six years old. A decent man, he recognizes his limitations as an artist, but this awareness robs him of any sense of purpose. He loans pictures to the People’s Art League but cannot sell them. He tries working for Freddie Salmon, faking paintings by Vincent van Gogh, but he destroys his work. He goes with Percy and Margot to the Spanish frontier, where he is used as bait in smuggling guns to Communists. He and Margot die from a fall during a mountain storm while trying to escape from the Spanish Civil Guard.

Margaret (Margot) Stamp

Margaret (Margot) Stamp, Victor’s common-law wife, twenty-four years old. Devoted to Victor, she retains faith in him despite his failures. She accompanies him to the Spanish frontier, where she tries to prevent him from running guns for the Communists. She dies with Victor while trying to escape from Spain to France through the mountains.

Tristram (Tristy) Phipps

Tristram (Tristy) Phipps, a painter and friend of Victor Stamp, six feet, two inches tall. He lives with Gillian in a basement flat near the Thames. A dedicated Communist, he quarrels with Gillian over politics, and she leaves him. He accepts work for Freddie Salmon making counterfeit paintings.

Gillian (Jill) Phipps

Gillian (Jill) Phipps, Tristy’s wife, a Communist who was born in privileged circumstances. A self-consciously liberated woman, she enjoys toying with men....

(The entire section is 848 words.)