What Martians and the British Have in Common in War of the Worlds
War of the Worlds
The years from 1871 to 1914 experienced boom of anti-imperialism literature. One such writer who used his power of words and wisdom – H.G. Wells devised a way to educate his readers on the dangers of imperialism and the threat of future war for the Earth due to the nature of humans. He used an interplanetary science fictional event to capture audience attention and by using such an event, makes it more believable because most people weren’t educated on the goings-on in space. The Martian invasion depicted in War of the Wolds is much like the imperialism in Wells’ time because both the British and the Martians used very violent and hostile treatment towards the conquered peoples and they both had reason for their invasions and dominations, mostly the resources and material gain offered.
One way that the Martians were similar to mankind in the form of British Imperialism would be the way that they treated the peoples they attempted to take over. The Martians landed on Earth with the intention of harvesting mankind for the resources that they desperately needed to continue their existence. For years and years they watched and calculated. “Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us” (Wells 1). They saw what they wanted and intended to take it, much like the British during the age of imperialism. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?”(Wells 2). Much like this European immigrants, the Martians showed very little regard for mankind and saw us as little more than sustenance and a material to be exploited. One way that they assumed their dominance and took over so easily would be their advanced technologies. When humans are faced with a power greater than their own, they tend to submit and give in to their captures in hopes of not being destroyed by their instruments of anguish. The Martians came in tripods, planted thousands of years ago, which were more advanced than anything we had ever seen. “A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder” (Wells 25). Much like the British who possessed technologies far greater than their own when facing the indigenous peoples of whatever civilization they aspired to conquer. The Opium Wars 1842. The British deployed their advanced steamships against the Chinese who didn’t stand a chance with their outdated junk. The British got what they wanted every time which was usually for profit or power much similar to the Martians. When taking over areas where disease was a huge problem to natives, the British possessed cures and vaccinations which gave them yet another leg up in their quest for power (Saylor). As clearly stated one of the similarities between the fabled Martian invasion in the War of the Worlds devised by mister Wells, and the issues of British imperialism prevalent to the era, both the Martians and the British were very malevolent conquerors, caring little for the people or things that they crushed on their way to the top.
Another similarity between the Martians and the British would be that they felth their reasons for conquering were worth the lives of the people that they trampled to pursue their endeavors. “The secular cooling that must someday overtake our planet has already gone far indeed with our neighbor. Its physical condition is still largely a mystery, but we know now that even in its equatorial region the midday temperature barely approaches that of our coldest winter.” (Wells 2) The Martians were faced with possible extinction and the death of their species. Why wouldn’t they regard our planet with “envious eyes?” This was the ultimate driving force behind their motives to invade and reclaim Earth for their own. “The immediate pressure of necessity has brightened their intellects, enlarged their powers, and hardened their hearts. And looking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.” (Wells 2) The main motivation was out of necessity. The same may be said for the British if the need for power and to be one of the Earth’s leading superpowers of a country was a necessity which some believed it was. The British killed and destroyed for the resources that others had that they wanted. What better way than to kill and take it if you knew that you had more power and the means to frighten and intimidate countless people in your endless pursuit for power? As you can see, the British and the Martians also shared a common driving force behind their dubious intentions.
In conclusion, Wells uses a science fiction approach to both entertain and educate his readers about the dangers of a war of the worlds, or what would soon be known as “World Wars.” Wells foresaw the Earth plummeting into chaos and darkness due to ongoing war and violence. “Cities, nations, civilization, progress – it’s all over. That game’s up. We’re beat.” (Wells 88) The consequences of invasion and destruction far outweigh any gain. He uses War of the Worlds to show us about the imperialism that was going on and how it would feel if the tables were turned and we were nothing more than meat to be harvested by an even greater superpower. The Martian invasion was similar to British imperialism because both were malevolent to the inhabitants they sought to conquer, and they both had heavy motive for their invasion.
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