The War of the Worlds

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The War of the Worlds Book Report

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

If you like Aliens and Science Fiction then you will enjoy H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds. I was referred to this book by my english teacher who said that this book would be popular for boys my age. I would agree with that. Older teens should read this because this book is science fiction that also contains lots of action, while also being very insightful to human nature. The Guardian says, it as a true classic that has pointed the way not just for science fiction writers, but for now we as a civilization might think of ourselves. I chose to read this because I enjoy science fiction, and action and adventure.

Wells, made visualizing the story easier by letting us the reader, see into the narrator’s thoughts and emotions. First when the aliens attack a town near the river, the narrator decides to jump in, but the aliens heat ray boils the river making the narrator scream in agony as every movement hurts painfully. The narrator screams and shouts sound horrible. This shows his emotions clearly no matter how bad they may be. When the narrator sees aliens drinking the humans blood he says, ‘But squeamish as I may seem, I cannot bring myself to describe what I could not endure even to continue watching. The bare idea of this no doubt sounds repulsive to us, but at the same time I think that we should remember how repulsive our carnivorous habits would seem 5o an intelligent rabbit. We now see humans in a different way because of the narrator’s thoughts. And how repulsive it was to see it. This tells is more about the aliens and ourselves, because he makes us think if the aliens see humans as simple animals or intelligent creatures. Towards the end when the narrator wants to end it all after all the suffering, he starts going insane and walks to the martians to save him the trouble of killing himself. The thoughts and emotions he shows us makes us feel sad for everything the narrator has gone through. Showing us his thoughts of suicide and his feelings to just end it all.

When writing this book H.G. Wells was very descriptive especially with characters like the aliens. At one point when the narrator first sees the aliens he says, “they looked like a big bulk the size of a bear with wet leathery skin. When I read this I was able to picture What the narrator was saying. This may not seem like much, but the narrator only saw a glimpse of the aliens, and for a glimpse that was a very descriptive one. Another description Wells gives us says, “This thing I saw how can I describe it a monstrous tripod, A walking engine of glittering metal, Machine it was with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible glittering tentacles. When I read this, I could see why the narrator was scared, I could picture this tripod clearly in my head. I find it interesting how the narrator describes it but im not complaining because I like the good descriptions. “They were huge round bodies or rather hears about four feet in diameter, each body having in front of it a face, the martians do not seem to have had any sense of smell. But it had a pair of very large dark colored eyes, and just beneath this kind of fleshy beak. Finally when reading this I was able to better see the aliens after the glimpse the narrator had. I was able to see the aliens in full picture now thanks to the authors great description.

When Wells wrote this story he made sure to include irony to make the story better. Toward the beginning people see a falling star leaving a greenish streak behind it that glowed for a few seconds. This is ironic since the falling star is something natural and beautiful but will be dangerous and ugly. Because turns out the falling star ends up being some ugly Alien in tripods trying to kill human. Afterwards when the cylinder opens and kills a bunch of people, the rest of the town keep going on normally as if nothing happened. Since we know the aliens have some to kill humans, humans should be preparing but they don’t. The most significant Irony was when the technologically advanced Martians were defeated by tiny basic bacteria. This sad and funny because the most basic form of life was able to defeat something so advanced. While the most advanced human weapons at the time did little to no effect on defeating the martians.

The War of the Worlds action filled Sci-fi plot, descriptive characters, fun irony, and vivid thoughts and emotions help write this amazing story. H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds is a great story. I would recommend this book to older teenagers, sci-fi lovers and anyone that loves alien invasions.

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137

Comparing War of the Worlds and Prester John

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by English author Herbert George Wells and published in 1897 and Prester John is an adventure novel written by John Buchan in 1910. H. G. Wells was an English writer. He was prolific in many genres, writing dozens of novels, short stories, and many others. John Buchan is a Scottish novelist who began his political and diplomatic careers in southern Africa which made him start writing career. He often wrote various adventure fictions. John Buchan often wrote about southern Africa as a back ground. They both are very well-known writers. H. G. Wells was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921, 1932, 1935, and 1946. Wells so influenced real exploration of Mars that an impact crater on the planet was named after him. Unlike H. G. Wells, John Buchan is not as influenced literacy with impact, but he was a novelist, historian, and Unionist politician who served as Governor General of Canada. Buchan simultaneously began his writing career and hist political and diplomatic careers. He was a splendid man of unlimited resource and great intellectual capacity. These two prominent authors of The War of the Worlds and Prester John have distinguishable styles.

Firstly, their genre, setting, style and theme are very different. As previously stated, these two books genres are very different. One is science fiction genre and other is adventure genre. In the War of the World, mostly, it talks about Martians destroying the earth and the main characters surviving from the abyss. In the Prester John, main character is exploring southern Africa and about adventure that is happening while he is staying in Africa. Setting is also different. In the War of the World, it is around in 1900 and held on London. In the Prester John, it is held in around in mid twentieth century and held on Southern Africa. Because of these genre and setting are different, it makes the style of books different. In the War of the World, science fiction genre makes the style of the book more appalling. The main character of this book is surrounded by unbeatable Martians and crazy people that make the life of the main character miserable. Everything seems hopeless in this book. However, in the Prester John, it is not as severely bad as the War of the World. The main character in the Prester John also in a very poor condition, but there were always ways to get out. It shows hopes unlike the War of the World. Themes of these two books are differ from each other. In the War of the World, the main theme is to show the what is going to happen if other creatures from outside of the earth invade. It shows disasters that happened by monstrous creatures. However, it tells readers that there is going to be some sort of hope to go against these creatures. In the Prester John, the main theme is to talk about what is going on in southern Africa that the author actually experienced. These four components; genre, setting, style and theme are crucial that made authors famous.

Secondly, their representation of social class is different. A social class is a set of subjectively defined concepts in the social sciences and political theory centered on models of social stratification in which people are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories. In the War of the World, social class is not actually stated, but readers can anticipate that social class exist. Martians which has the most power is controlling the world. People have to live what Martians intended to. Human beings who have the power which is the Army are on the top of the social class besides Martians. Below that males and people who have weapons are existed and the rest of the human beings are on the bottom of social class. However, in the Prester John, social class does exist. Main character or white men are in the top of the social class. They have the actual control over the resources or humans. Others are in the bottom of the social class but among them, they have their own social class. A leader and fighters. For example, Laputa, the leader of the tribes, has the most power among their people and his followers do whatever Laputa tells them to do. Because both are in special condition, the War of the World and the Prester John have the social classes. If the War of the World has the different genre, and the Prester John is held on somewhere else, there might not be any social class.

Thirdly, their relationship to Darwinism is different. Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin. It means all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Unlike the Prester John, the War of the World is clearly stated the Darwinism. When the main character of the War of the World met the artillery man, the artillery man wants to accept only people who are in good condition. He is going to build a utopia for perfect human beings. This dream did not work out in the book but it surely mentioned about Darwinism that author actually believed in. The main character knew about the artillery man’s dream is lunatic which made the main character leave him behind. Unlike the War of the World, the Prester John does not state Darwinism at all. The Prester John is closer to Imperialism which is a state government, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas. It is based on imperialism because of the historical era of that time. White men are ruling over the southern Africa and Africans are fighting against white men’s reign. Not only white men but also Africans also have imperialism. Leaders tell their people what to do. For example, Laputa is the leader of the tribes and tell people to fight against white men. They protest and do riots against the power. Because of these two, the War of the World and the Prester John are very different.

Finally, their treatment of the theme of science and belief, and civilization and barbarism are different. In the War of the World, it is more toward to science and belief. The genre itself is science fiction and talks about mostly something that does not exist in the real life. Everything is based on author’s imagination that might happen in future or that never happen. The belief that the War of the World has is the Darwinism. As it previously mentioned, H. G. Well believed in Darwinism. Well’s earliest specialized training was in biology which made him more believed in Darwinian context. Because of his belief, the War of the World and many other science fiction novels brought full impact of Darwin’s revolutionary botanical ideas to a wider public. This explained why H. G. Wells put the artillery man to notify what Darwinism is. The artillery man is a character that has same belief that the author has. Unlike the War of the World, civilization and barbarism exist in the Prester John. Civilization which express white men who staying in southern Africa and barbarism which express Africans who are fighting against the civilization are crucial in this book. Africans are going against the white men and fight for their freedom and their lands. It happens in real life too. Author wrote this book based on his experience in Africa. People cannot decide which is good. Civilization can be good or bad and barbarism also can be good or bad. The War of the World and the Prester John have the treatment of the theme that it actually believed in or what it has seen throughout their life.

In conclusion, the War of the World and the Prester John are very different but somewhat similar. The War of the World mostly talks about something that never happened in real life and the Prester John talks about something that actually happened and people are suffering from. Genre, setting, style and themes made these two books very different, but readers who read these books know that these are magnitudinous books. What H. G. Wells and John Buchan want to talk about is different subjects but both clearly stated what they want to say in their books which makes these two books very similar. Readers find out more about these books which socially impacted and impacting nowadays too. Because of these two authors, these two books crucially are concerned in English popular culture.

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Understanding Aliens from H.G Wells’ Perspective As Depicted In His Novel, War Of the Worlds

November 2, 2020 by Essay Writer

There are plenty of pop culture icons that can be described as “extraterrestrial invaders;” however, there aren’t many in literature. Coincidentally enough, however, one of the first mentions of extraterrestrial invaders comes from literature: the Martians from H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel War of the Worlds. These horrifyingly ugly creatures roam the Earth in giant “fighting machines,” or as they are more commonly called tripods, and ravage all forms of life they encounter. Despite their obvious non-human appearance and power, they still suffer from the same pitfalls that humanity, and life in its entirety, suffer from.

H.G. Well’s Martians first appear in War of the Worlds during the first chapter, after a “meteor” falls to Earth and lands on Horsell Common, in Woking, Surrey. The mysterious nature of this “meteor” is further magnified by what it does next: it opens to reveal several Martians, who the narrator describes as “big and greyish, with oily brown skin,” “two large colored eyes,” a beak-like “V-shaped mouth,” and “Gorgon groups of tentacles.” Despite the thorough description of the Martians appearance, one still finds it hard to actually picture them. This presents the first strength of the Martian invaders: their supreme, God-like invincibility.

The Martians are regarded to by Wells as “minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, [with] intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic.” Wells seeks to portray these Martians as God-like, giving them infinite strength and a lack of value for other forms of life; as a result, the Martians are made out to be invincible. For example, when the military surrounded the Hornell Commons in an attempt to contain the Martians, the military was armed with Maxim guns, which were considered to be the most advanced weapons ever constructed (this was the first automatic weapon, which looked much like a Gatling gun). Wells emphasizes the presence of these weapons because, when placed in historical context, the reader in 1897 would fully comprehend the awesome might of the Martian invaders.

In addition, the Martians roam the Earth in colossal “fighting machines,” also known as tripods, which were armed with advanced weaponry: specifically, the heat ray and a black-smoke chemical weapon. These machines could be eliminated, but in one of the only instances within the novel which this occurred, it took three warships with massive power in order to do so. While in modern times it doesn’t seem like these tripods would be very effective, when reading this piece through the glasses of someone from 1897, this is a massive show of the devastating power of these machines.

The second strength of the Martians is their inherent lack of moral compass. While on the surface this would seem like a weakness, particularly from the eyes of a human, in all reality it makes the Martians ideal invaders; because the Martians have no moral compass, they have no qualms with wiping out the human race in their quest for domination. In addition, because they have no moral compass, they have no need to be rational or fair. There is no such thing as diplomacy for the Martians in the quest for Earth; either humans learn to live under them or they attempt to rebel, either of which gets them killed. It made a rather effective antagonist for War of the Worlds.

Unfortunately for the Martians, their weaknesses are one in the same as humanity’s. One such example is morality; while being portrayed as God-like and invincible, the Martian invaders can still be killed by the same means as people. Those who managed to finish War of the Worlds know that, in the end, it was bacterial infection that finally killed the Martians. The simplest of all of God’s creations, the common cold, destroyed the most advanced race of extraterrestrial beings in a major fit of irony.

The final weakness of the Martian invaders is the pivotal part of Wells’ purpose in writing War of the Worlds: greed, the greatest vice of man.This greed is not a result of a need to survive, but a want for wealth. It is implied (and other versions of Wells’ story directly state it) that the Martians have come to Earth in order to drain it of all of its resources. Wells mentions, within the first page of The War of the Worlds, that the Martians ”regarded this earth with envious eyes.” Clearly Mars is a wasteland, so it is no surprise that the Martians were envious of Earth. The Martians may very well have drained Mars of its resources before looking elsewhere to quench their thirst for wealth.

The importance of this is simple: the Martians, in their entirety, is an extended metaphor for British Imperialism and the British war machine. The elements of the novel add perfectly to equal it: the Martians see themselves as God like, and therefore have no value for life; the Martians seek to enslave the humans; the Martians must feed upon the humans in order to survive, just like the war machine needs innocent lives in the form of soldiers in order to continue; and the Martians moved like a swarm of locusts to rob the Earth of its resources, much like what the British Empire did to India and Africa. This type of metaphor was common during the era, which contained a massive amount of invasion literature; however, it was never done as well in other pieces as it was in War of the Worlds.

Despite the strengths and weaknesses of the Martians, I personally would still like to actually speak with one of them, given the opportunity, because I admire their power, despite their human-like weaknesses. It is a mystery whether or not the Martians’ motives were derived from greed, jealousy (the typical vices of humanity), or a simple hatred for humanity because Wells never expounded upon them within the novel. As a result, Wells has created an interesting and ambiguous antagonist that embodies fear, God-like superiority, and malice, all placed within an unfeeling and cold-blooded package.

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Depictions of Danger in Frankenstein and The War of the Worlds

July 24, 2019 by Essay Writer

Both The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley are novels that introduce dangers in the form of an ‘enemy’ – the details of which enemy are largely unknown by the reader. Wells and Shelley, though dealing with enemies in different forms (one a single monster, another a squadron, one man-made and the other beyond man’s comprehension), both present the threat of this enemy in regards to tension and suspense. Whilst reading about this ‘enemy’, the reader is made to feel anxious by use of ominous retrospect in the narrative and the gradual reveal of the monster at hand. Both monsters are introduced slowly and seemingly unthreateningly, but these details combined with the ominous foreshadowing in the narrative develops the idea that there is a threat at hand. The reader is offered little or gradual information about the enemy and as a result, both writers create tension surrounding what is unknown – making the reader feel the threat of danger in a visceral way, as though the reality of each narrative was their own.

Both authors use ominous foreshadowing to indicate to the reader that there is a constant threat – but a threat that the reader knows little about just yet. Use of retrospect is integral to the narratives, in making the reader conscious that worse is to come from each event they are introduced to. For Shelley, use of prolepsis is integral to communicating the constant threat that the monster poses in his story. When we first meet Victor, he is described as “dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering” – seeming that he is not only physically distraught but has also endured extreme emotional strain. Readers subsequently wonder what the reason behind this “fatigue” could be, as Victor begins to warn Walton that his destruction is the result of scientific endeavor. He comments on how Walton seeks “for knowledge and wisdom” as he “once did” and proceeds to ask that the captain listen to his own story in the hopes that he will learn from his mistakes. The use of the adverb “once” not only informs us of his previous (i.e. no longer) pursuit for knowledge but implies a kind of remorse. It suggests that Victor “once” sought out wisdom and endeavored to be a great scientist, but his experience with such scientific development has lead him to consider it a thing of his past. Shelley’s use of prolepsis here links his previous scientific activity to his present broken state. Another example is when he returned to his home shortly after the ‘birth’ of the creature, expressing that he “did not conceive [at that time]” what “anguish” he was “destined to endure” as a result of creating the monster. For Frankenstein’s readers, Victor’s employment of galvanism and current scientific theories would be recognizable to them, and spark curiosity about where science might advance us as a society. Yet hearing him speak with finality about his pursuit for “knowledge and wisdom” (he “once” sought it) sheds a negative light onto what scientific endeavor could actually cause. We are reminded consistently, through this use of prolepsis, that his contribution to science did not lead to success and grandeur but to him becoming this “man on the brink of destruction”. Victor is himself, then, evidence that for the threat of danger in his life, his story – the constant threat of the monster and the death that he brings.

In The War of the Worlds, retrospect is contrasted with the narrator’s feelings during the early stages of the invasion. Evidence of the narrator’s confidence during these stages is seen when he reassures his wife that “the Martians were tied to the pit by sheer heaviness, and at the utmost could but crawl a little out of it”. The adjectives present illuminate how empathically confident the narrator was with this false knowledge – that the enemy was held by “sheer heaviness” and could only move “a little”. The phrase “at the utmost”, too, is a kind of colloquialism that is overly reassuring – demonstrating the level of confidence the narrator had in feeling they were safe. Retrospect changes his confidence into foreboding. When hearing about the army’s advances on the Martians, he expressed that “It hardly seemed a fair fight to me at that time”. By adding “at that time” to the end of this expression is an immediate juxtaposition of his opinion after the events, against his complacent confidence then (representative of most Victorians during the peak of the British Empire) and his sympathy towards the Martians. Ironically, the fight is nowhere close to being a “fair” one in the end – in subtly adding “at that time” to his comment the narrator alludes to the threat of destruction which looms in the future. Not only this, but the reader is curious and anxious about why the situation may be less than a “fair fight”. Particularly since this was published at a time where people were easily unnerved by the potential realities literature presented (consider how people reacted when The Battle of Dorking was published, and the necessity that the government reassured the public), Wells’ elusive review of the invasion from the future would undoubtedly have left his readers uneasy. As a result, both narratives create tension by subtle moments of ominous retrospect that indicate a constant sense of threat in the future, from which both narrators are reflecting on the events. Use of contemporary fears or curiosity in scientific development or the possibility of invasion are woven into both novels and enhance the sense of threat already created by prolepsis and foreshadowing.

In a similar way, both Shelley and Wells draw out the reveal of each ‘enemy’ in so gradual a way that creates suspense – such a suspense that leaves the reader feeling threatened but with sparse information about what the threat actually is. This gradual introduction of the enemy is most poignant in The War of the Worlds, when the Martians are slowly and painfully revealed to the narrator. Not only do the cylinders arrive one by one over the course of several weeks, but the first description of a Martian is drawn out and embroidered with visceral adverbs. He describes it as “A big greyish rounded bulk, the size, perhaps, of a bear” that was “rising slowly and painfully”. Not only do the adverbs “slowly” and “painfully” draw out the movement of the Martian in such a way that generates suspense, but the narrator also demonstrates uncertainty when trying to describe it – “the size, perhaps, of a bear”. The word “perhaps” indicates a guess – he can only guess at what size this Martian is, due to how “slowly” it is being revealed. There is little information gathered about the Martian, leaving the reader curious to understand the specifics of what is being observed. Later the narrator describes how the Martian regarded him “steadfastly” and “heaved and pulsated convulsively”. Again, these adverbs sound painful and suggest that the Martian is struggling. For which reason, the narrator felt it was “hardly” a “fair fight” when he first met them – an inference which is later proved completely wrong. Given that the novel was first published as a serial in a newspaper, tension was key to communicating this sense of threat – and so Wells could achieve this by drip-feeding information about the enemy, a being whose appearance was almost incomprehensible to a contemporary audience.

In contrast, the revelation of the monster in Frankenstein is not so slow and gradual but rather evidencing he is harmless and weak. Victor describes how one of the monster’s hands “stretched out” and that he made “inarticulate sounds”. The verb “stretched” implies reaching, not able to access what he is trying to get to (in this case, his father). Describing his attempts at speaking as “inarticulate sounds” demonstrates his incapability to communicate – he does not know anything about language yet, being so new into the world. Though Victor talks about him in a gruesome manner, commenting that when the monster reaches out it is “seemingly to detain [him]”, the monster does not seem to be an actual, aggressive threat at this point – but merely ugly, stumbling into life like the Martian struggled out of their cylinder. This weakness found in the monster’s early moments communicates Shelley’s beliefs in the innate good of children/humans before their experience of society, yet from Victor’s biased and disgusted, retrospective narrative the reader similarly comes to expect evil of this creature. Hence, the descriptions provided by Wells and Shelley in their narratives – though different in the way that they introduce the monsters – develop tension about how each monster will divulge and grow to become the ‘enemy’ the retrospective narrator believes them to be.

The keys to both Shelley’s and Wells’ presentation of the threat of danger, then, seem to be tension and suspense. The anticipation surrounding the monsters’ next movements, particularly evident in The War of the Worlds as a serial publication, is necessary to draw upon contemporary fears and beliefs of science or invasion theory which serve to embellish the sense of threat the two writers develop. If there weren’t tension, suspense and unanswered questions in the narrative when describing the monsters in primary stages or moments of ominous retrospect, the reader would not be free to interpret the text with their own contemporary knowledge (and latent fears). Hence, the two writers present the threat of danger by developing tension, which fuels the building curiosity and unease in the reader.

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Horror and Reality: The Artilleryman’s Contribution to the Novel

April 9, 2019 by Essay Writer

During Book Two, Chapter Seven of The War of the Worlds, we are reminded of the artilleryman’s eccentric character. In short, his role is as an object of satire: he voices opinions for Wells to criticise. Nonetheless, the artilleryman does more than this; he gives a horrifying image of how humans will evolve, which can be applied to the real world that Wells was actually writing about.

The artilleryman shows one view Wells is against in his manner of thinking. He is very much obsessed with possession, as evidenced by his bold claim, ‘this is my country.’ This kind of parochial view is exactly what Wells is trying to eliminate through writing this book. Wells uses this phrase to bring colonial thoughts to the reader’s mind, but ensures we still view these ‘navy-crowded seas’ in a negative light through the narrator’s disinterested response. He seems unenthusiastic and gives the artilleryman short answers, even though the artilleryman speaks incessantly, sometimes for entire paragraphs. The artilleryman then continues by telling the narrator that ‘there is only food for one’, which emphasizes his selfishness.

However, as previously mentioned, the artilleryman is more than just an object of satire. He also holds some views which the narrator completely agrees with. One example of this is his contempt for the deeply class-ridden Victorian society. He says ‘if you’ve got any drawing room manners, or dislike eating peas with a knife… you better chuck ‘em away. They ain’t no further use.’ He has made it perfectly clear: classes and drawing-room manners won’t be needed in a post-apocalyptic world. This view is one that Wells agrees with because it suggests that these classes, if not needed in The War of the Worlds, are not needed in the real world either. Wells goes so far to emphasize the narrator and the artilleryman sharing common ground that he even has the artilleryman use the narrator’s ant analogy from Book One.

Much of this has probably been put in place to give the reader a good reason for why the narrator accepted the artilleryman’s ideas in the first place, and then helped him in the task of building a redundant tunnel. The narrator accepts the artilleryman’s insane philosophy at first because they do have so much in common. The artilleryman gives the horrifying image of humans as some sort of cattle for the Martians, living in ‘roomy cages’ with ‘fattening food’, except for a strong race of men and women who will live freely beyond Martian rule. The artilleryman includes himself and the narrator in this group, which clearly appeals to the narrator’s vanity, and so he decides to help the artilleryman.

It is important to note here that we cannot assume Wells’ beliefs are identical to the narrator’s. We know in several instances they differ greatly, for example the narrator prays to God believing He will take action to change the world, but Wells’ beliefs about God (from God the Invisible King) are that ‘God does not guide our feet’ and He will not do anything to change the natural course of nature. The narrator’s selfishness in accepting the artilleryman’s views is another example of when Wells’ views differ from the narrator’s, because, as an egalitarian, Wells would not have believed it right for some people to life as cattle whilst other were living in freedom.

Wells shows his disapproval of this by allowing the narrator to become disillusioned, through the artilleryman’s laziness and inability to complete a task. He tells the narrator: ‘Oh, one can’t always work.’ This is the exact moment that the narrator says he ‘saw the man plain’, which proves it is the artilleryman’s lazy character that gives him away. It gives him away as being insane, which is in no way unknown to the reader. Of course, if the man is thought of as insane, no reader will listen to his ideas because society thinks of insanity as something that makes you think in the wrong way, and is good cause for locking you up away from everyone else. Hence Wells has exposed the artilleryman’s views as incorrect.

One final idea the artilleryman contributes to the novel is the criticism he puts forward of human nature. He says the human race deserves their fate under the Martians because people have led their lives in fear rather than freedom, which has made them easy prey; he also raises Darwinian ideas of survival of the fittest. Ultimately, the artilleryman indicates that the ones who survive will be the ones who are prepared to reject society’s values. This scenario shows Wells’ dislike of society’s values in his own time, such as the inequality of the class system. Wells isn’t only arguing that the class system is wrong, but that we won’t be able to survive unless we eliminate it.

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War of the Worlds as a Reflection for Anxiety

February 26, 2019 by Essay Writer

Ostensibly an alien invasion movie, Independence Day is a movie that best exemplifies the gender politics of the 1990s, where feminism scared men into fearing for their masculinity. In the 1990s, Hilary Clinton was vilified, books like The Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right became bestsellers to push traditional gender roles and Robert Bly started the Men’s Movement in order to reclaim masculinity. “We no longer have images of ‘real men,’ Bly says, as the men continue the drum beat. Stereotypical sissies have replaced macho men.” (Faludi, 317) In many ways, Independence Day is the hero’s journey from emasculated sissy, running away from aliens to macho men willing to fight back to regain their masculinity. Genre

The genre of the alien invasion began with H.G. Wells’ book The War of the Worlds, in which Martians invade Earth, destroy many landmarks and are ultimately destroyed by germs. There are many interpretations of War of the Worlds. One of the more interesting ones is that the book is a critique of British Imperialism where the invaders give the earth a taste of their own medicine. In the beginning of the book H.G. Wells’ narrator points out that “in spite of their human likeness [the Tasmanians] were swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants.” (5) In light of the British Imperialism, one should note that one of the major problems that British colonialists faced in distant lands were diseases, which is reflected in the happy ending where the aliens die of the cold.

Wartime produces different interpretations of alien invasions. Orson Welles’ radio play for War of the Worlds took place on October 30, 1938, less than a year before Germany invaded Poland, thereby starting World War II. The possibility of war was increasing throughout the 1930s as Germany built up its military, invaded nations and increased the war rhetoric. The interpretation of War of the Worlds wasn’t as important as the panic that the radio show caused. News stories were increasingly giving the impression that war could begin at any time; a radio show stating that it was happening between humans and aliens hit the zeitgeist.

In the 1950s, there were several movies about aliens invading the earth and causing war. Since America was in a post-war prosperity and settling into a Cold War, the alien invasion movies would be very positive. The 1950s War of the Worlds saw many landmarks being destroyed and the nuclear bomb being deployed. It ends with the disease killing all the ships in the last moment before the end. The positivism of the time is reflected in the contemporary review of the film: “Does our side win despite these odds? Of course. But it would be unfair, even to a Martian, to divulge the climax.” (A.W.)

By contrast, Spielberg’s adaptation of War of the Worlds doubled as a post-9/11 therapy with the civilian viewpoint being emphasized. Many of the images of 9/11 were transposed to the movie including dead bodies, missing person notices and mountains of ash. Spielberg purposefully skewed away from alien invasion tropes like generals sitting around tables discussing strategy and landmarks being destroyed. Cloverfield took the alien invasion trope to even more claustrophobic extremes by following four friends through Manhattan as they try to figure out what’s going on and survive.

Gender Politics

The discourse of the 90s was not always as blatantly sexist as the following passage from a rightwing blog: “Today, nearly 60 percent of the students enrolled at U.S. colleges are women. And of course it has become much more difficult for men to find good jobs. In fact, less than 65 percent of all men have a job right now” (Snyder). However, that contingent of worry over the amount of women in colleges and working careers was endemic to the culture, even among people who did not overtly worry about men losing their control. When Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House in 1995, one of the major news stories began: “The mother of incoming House speaker Newt Gingrich said in a television interview that her son thinks first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is ‘a bitch.’” (Reuters)

Even as women were making strides, there was a serious hostility towards feminism. Susan Faludi’s book Backlash was published in the same era as Camille Paglia’s Sexual Persona, which made many sales from the author’s personality and eagerness to fight with feminists. There were many movies that reflected this fear of emasculation including Disclosure, The Big Lebowski and Fight Club, where the heroes needed to regain their manhood. Independence Day Emasculation

Independence Day begins with several male characters in various stages of emasculation. Jeff Goldblum is introduced as an MIT graduate who is caught in a dead end job in a cable company. His co-worker is played by Harvey Keitel who is a flaming homosexual, which is the quintessential sissy character. When the aliens show up over several major cities, the president of the United States only acts because he is warned by Constance Spano, a woman that serves as a functionary between Jeff Goldblum’s emasculated genius and Bill T. Pullman’s emasculated president. Will Smith is the only outright masculine character and yet his girlfriend is an exotic dancer which means that he is not the only man that gets to see her naked. He also trips over toys as he’s walking out of the house.

Once the aliens attack, the movie becomes downright Freudian as the alien spaceships open up in flower like configurations above tall towers including the tallest skyscraper in Los Angeles and the Empire State Building. As the flowery spaceships open up like vaginas, they release an energy that destroys the phallic buildings. Besides the symbolic castration, the destruction scenes also feature the death of Harvey Keitel’s sissy character, a dog that somehow manages to outrun oncoming fire and the president running away on Air Force One as the White House is destroyed. Once Will Smith and Harry Connick jr. try to fight the space ships, they are entirely impervious to attack. The ships will only open for symbolic phalluses in order to destroy them. Other symbolic phalluses will crash against the ships in a vain attempt at getting inside. The only successful attempt to destroy the ships happens when Will Smith lures an attacker into the Grand Canyon, thus reversing the symbols with the earth acting as the killer vagina.

Once the spaceships have thoroughly emasculated the planet, the second act sees the heroes exploring their loss of masculinity. The president discovers that his advisors have been keeping the aliens from him. Once he meets the alien, he attempts to broker a feminine peace treaty with it, only to be rebuffed. He reacts with a speech about fighting and killing them all. Randy Quaid plays a pilot who was anally probed by the aliens. This violation is passed off as a joke and a key to his entire character arc. Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith are both heroic Others whose outsider status allows them to come up with the plot of infecting the alien spaceships with a computer virus. This kind of subterfuge is not necessarily something that more masculine characters would engage in; however, these characters – being Jewish and black – are free to engaging in cunning plans. They are also engaged in the relationship story lines of either reuniting with ex-wives or marrying stripper girlfriends.

The third act is initiated by a presidential speech in which the president claims that they will win a great victory on Independence Day. This plays into the American belief of being the policemen of the world, who maintain all order and stability and successfully repel all nefarious evil doers. In a movie that is decidedly unsubtle, this is the least subtle speech possible. The president has overcome all of his waffling and his feminine beliefs in peace and compromise and has emerged as the warrior that he had once been.

The final fight is a reversal of the destruction at the beginning where phallic aircraft fly up to the spaceship and ejaculate bullets at it. Since the two heroes have installed a virus into the system, the small phallic symbols are capable of doing what the large phallic symbols were unable to do at the beginning of the movie and ravish the spaceships. This is the symbolic equivalent of “size doesn’t matter” and “it’s the motion of the ocean, not the size of the both.” The final victory comes when Randy Quaid symbolically rapes the spaceship by yelling “Up yours, asshole,” (or up your asshole) and thus announcing his victory over the vagina, even at the loss of his own life. In the final montage, the crashed spaceships are shown throughout the planet including a ship that is in the background of spear waving Africans. This part is particularly egregious since the Africans have no technology to destroy the spaceship beyond their spears. Presumably they waved their sharp phallic objects at the spaceship (vaginal symbol) and it fell down from pure fear.

Thus the journey has been made whereby castration and emasculation has been imposed upon the men and they have responded by regaining their manhood through symbolic sexual violence. In the weltanschauung of Independence Day, masculinity is a zero sum game where manhood must be protected at all costs, lest the feminine – depicted as evil alien beings – is allowed to destroy it through independence, domination and emasculation.

Works Cited

A.W. “The Screen in Review: New Martian Invasion is seen in War of the Worlds which bows at Mayfair.” The New York Times. Movie Review. August 14, 1953. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1953/08/14/archives/the-screen-in-review-new-martian-invasion-is-seen-in-war-of-the.html

Faludi, Susan. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. New York: Broadway Books. 2006.

Reuters. “What Newt Called Hillary Clinton.” SFGate. January 4, 1995. Retrieved from https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/What-Newt-Called-Hillary-Clinton-In-interview-3049641.php

Snyder, Michael. ”32 Facts that show how Men are being Systematically Emasculated in America Today.” The Economic Collapse. Retrieved from http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/32-Facts-That-Show-How-Men-Are-Being-Systematically-Emasculated-In-America-Today.png

Wells, H.G. The War of the Worlds. 1898. New York: Tom Doherty Associate Books. 1988.

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Unique No More: Wells, Pearson, and the Critique of Humanism in ‘The War of the Worlds’

January 31, 2019 by Essay Writer

When Darwin first published his novel, The Origin of Species, in 1859, it was met with great controversy and backlash, sparking in the process a heated debate between scientists, religious scholars, and the general public over its implications and applications to our human society. His ideas of Natural Selection and “survival of the fittest” went against what had been believed by the majority for millennia–that humans were made in God’s image, exempt from nature, and therefore were superior to all other living kind on Earth. Darwin’s theory challenged that established belief and forced many to question their scientific understanding, religious beliefs, and ancestral lines. However, there soon appeared an answer to the confusion in the form of “Humanism,” or the “solidarity of humanity in the struggle with its environment. (Pearson 29)” Humanists were able to mold Darwin’s theory to fit their idea that while humans may be governed by nature, they too hold power over their fates. However, the author, H.G. Wells, in his novel, The War of the Worlds, writes of a foreign and threatening species, one with no relation to humans at all, that exhibits the same behaviors and actions that proponents of humanism argue are unique to humans. The scholar, Aaron Worth, claims that H.G Wells wrote his novel as a way of criticizing the British Empire’s imperialist expansion into Asia and Africa; however, one could take it one step further and say that underneath H.G Wells’ warning against imperialism there is another criticism–a dismantling of the humanist theory.

In his analysis, The Grammar of Science, Karl Pearson talks about the idea of humanism, a theory that had existed since Renaissance times, but was then strengthened and used by those disturbed by Darwin’s evolutionary theories to separate and allow humans to bend the laws of nature to their own whims. He talks of a “third factor of evolution…the profit that arises to humanity at large from common organization against organic and inorganic foes.” (Pearson 29) He gives an example of a “failure…to master their physical environment” that will lead to “famine.” (Pearson 29) By joining together, humans would, in theory, hold as much responsibility for their rise and fall as the laws of nature. They triumph over foes and struggle when mistakes are made. Instead of simply being governed by the laws of nature, such as the natural selection described by Darwin, humans, proponents of humanism argue, are also governed by their actions. They have “human control over man’s physical and biological environment,” (Pearson 29) something that no other living creature on Earth possesses.

However, Wells’ writing of fictional Martians may very well discredit that theory. In Aaron Worth’s analysis, “Imperial Transmissions: H. G. Wells, 1897–1901”, he claims that “Wells elaborates monitory parables that link near-infinite imperial expansion with the threat of imperial extinction. (Worth 69)” He asserts that War of the Worlds was written as a warning–the British empire was engaged in a massive colonization and expansion campaign and Wells believed that such an operation would lead to the ultimate extinction of the civilization. In fact, as Worth points out, “the British Empire is curiously absent from The War of the Worlds…surely because the British Empire is present in counterfactual form in the novel, symbolized as the Martians’ invading force; England, in effect, is confronted with its own possible (imperial) future. (Worth 71)” The roles are reversed in Wells’ novel–instead of Britain being the all-mighty power, they are the conquered nations, the unassuming natives confronted by an all-too-powerful threat.

And, while Wells’ martian forces were most likely intended to represent the British Empire in his allegory on imperialism, there is another group that they could also represent–the human race as a whole. Within moments of their arrival, the people of Earth witness firsthand what happens when another species joins together to defeat foes. By harnessing the power of nature, the Martians “slay men so swiftly and so silently” with a deadly heat ray. The narrator doesn’t know exactly how such a deadly machine was created and used, but based on his hypothesis of a “parabolic mirror” reflecting “heat, and invisible, instead of visible light,” (Wells 28) we can infer that it had to do with the manipulation of nature–an ability that supporters of humanism only attribute to humans.

The evidence of the Martians’ ability to manipulate their environment, however, does not stop there. The narrator witnesses a Martian deploying capsules of “Black Smoke,” which upon being released,“hissed against the walls, smashed all the windows it touched, and scalded the curate’s hand” (Wells 116). This fictionous poisonous gas causes devastation to the world around our narrator, killing all those who encounter it on ground level and proves to be a powerful weapon, especially when combined with the heat ray introduced earlier in the novel. Comparable to the mustard gas used during WWI, this poison uses the same means of delivery as how Nature delivers us with oxygen–through the air. The Martians took a harmless feature of nature, one that surrounds humans and is unavoidable, and turned it into a harmful and deadly force through the use of a scientific and technological weapon.

We see in documentation of the British imperial movement that the majority of their success came from the careful manipulation of nature through the use of advanced technology. According to the Saylor Foundation, Britain’s use of “steam engines and steel ships allowed imperial forces to penetrate inland using the rivers that had previously been unnavigable. (Saylor 5)” If the laws of nature were the only factors in play, the British would not have been able to access and conquer the civilizations protected by dangerous rivers. However, as humanism argues, the ability to have “human control over… [the] environment” (Pearson 29) made it so that humans (in this case the British imperial forces), were not hindered by the natural formations of the region–their mastery of technology and manipulation of the environment made them superior beings…just like the “heat ray” of the Martians made them more powerful than the people of Earth in The War of the Worlds.

However, humanism concedes that not always does man’s control over his surroundings lead to ultimate success. While Pearson mentions an example of a famine in his The Grammar of Science, the Saylor Foundation brings up a real life example of what happened to Britain and their force during their quest for Africa. While “the steamship aided European mastery over much of Asia;… in Africa, Europeans were still stymied by malaria.” (Saylor 5) Having moved too quickly into the African continent, toting guns and advanced technology, Britain did not account for the risk of unknown illnesses befalling them. This wasn’t simply a case of Darwin’s natural selection, for without the conscience choice to move men from Europe to Africa in an effort to gain control over resources and land, the British imperial forces would not have ever been exposed to malaria. It took the collective failure of humans to properly prepare combined with the dangerous diseases present in Africa to lead to the infection and initial failure of Britain’s invasion of Africa.

Therefore, it’s not just the Martians’ success in harnessing nature to defeat foes that forces us to question the idea of humanism, but also their failure at the end of the novel. Humanism admits that a collective failure can most definitely lead to great consequences, and the Martians, like the British in Africa during their colonization, certainly did face ramifications. The novel does not end with some great battle between the aliens and humans; rather, it ends with the simplest of solutions: bacteria. Having not accounted for foreign diseases and microscopic dangers during their invasion of the planet, the Martians were “slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared.” (Wells 168) Wells most likely was using this demise to show that the overexpansion of the British empire was conscience suicide, but he inadvertently also made an important comparison between humans and the Martian race, one crucial to the argument against humanism. Like the humans in Pearson’s example of the famine, or Saylor Foundation’s discussion of the failure of the British empire, the Martians were subjected to the same consequences as man–their fates were not simply governed by nature, they were decided by the consequences of their actions and their conscience decision to defy the laws of nature and enter into an area that they would have never naturally come upon.

Proponents of humanism based their arguments off the concept solidarity– that humans are the only living things on Earth to possess a skill or trait that allows for them to manipulate nature’s laws and forces. Humanism uses this idea to accept Darwin’s controversial theory on evolution– such a theory can still exist in their natural world, because human solidarity exempts them from the known laws of nature, of natural selection, of “survival of the fittest.” All other creatures, because they do not possess the same solidarity, are subject to nature’s ways. But, Wells shows that this may not actually be the case. While Martians are technically not of this Earth, and there is a possibility that some can argue that this fact means a comparison between Earthly humans and alien Martians cannot be made, there is no denying that it weakens the foundations of the humanist argument. If a fiction author can so easily imagine another creature possessing superior traits, it is quite possible that another creature, perhaps even one of Earth, is also on the same level. For once, in War of the Worlds, the tables have turned on humans–our belief that nothing is greater than us is severely contested when the new arrivals in the novel so easily take us down. Humanism was an accepted solution to the conflicts between traditional religious beliefs and Darwin’s modern theories, but after Wells’ allegorical representation of the British empire in the form of cruel space invaders, perhaps another way of merging religion and scientific thought needs to be made.

Ultimately, the largest critique against humanism in The War of the Worlds is not simply the fact that a species separate from humanity has the capacity to possess the same traits as humans. No, it has to do more with the entire idea of controlling nature. No matter how many examples are given for the manipulations of surroundings; whether you are examining the Martians’ heat rays and poisonous fog or the British’s steamships and guns, there never seems to be a permanent solution. Yes, the Martians and humans found a way to bypass the laws of nature for a moment. They created great clouds of poison, travelled up unforgiving rivers. They defeated foes through superior technology. But in the end, they were met with the same fate–eventually nature caught up to them and took them out with the most simple of threats: disease. Humanism allows for the possibility of failure, but for those who argue for the theory, such failure is only through one path–a collective failure. They attempt to keep the control within the hands of humans. But disease can wipe out one individual or many; you can collectively fail to protect yourself, but you can’t collectively fail to stop disease–it will occur with or without you. So while the idea of an inhuman species possessing the same traits that humanists argue are unique to humans in itself dismantles the theory of Humanism, it is the demise, and what facilitated it, of the Martians in The War of the Worlds, that ultimately challenges Humanism. Control of nature, no matter who supposedly holds it, is as fictional as the alien monsters described by H.G Wells.

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