Term Paper: T Nothing Frankenstein War of the Worlds

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¶ … Frankenstein, War of the worlds

The Limits of Human Empathy in H.G. Wells' the War of the Worlds, William Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Wells' the War of the Worlds, William Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein all revolve around a central, frightening theme -- the inability to know what is in another individual's heart. H.G. Wells dramatizes the alien nation of another person's consciousness in a very dramatic fashion by pitting humans against aliens. The humans cannot understand the way the aliens think, or their motivations. This causes them to behave desperately and cruelly towards other human beings. William Shakespeare's comedy is about love, but because of the divisions between men and women in the society of Hero and Claudio, Claudio is easily deceived by the evil Don John that Hero is not a virgin and nearly destroys her life and her honor as a result of his credulity. Finally, Dr. Frankenstein is so intent upon creating a scientific reputation for himself and defying God that he does not think about the feelings of the being he 'gives birth to,' showing that even parents do not fully know their children. The bonds of humanity, love, and parenting that should create commonality and connection are shown to be false in all three works.

H.G. Wells' famous narrative depicts London being overrun and terrorized by Martians. The humans have no defense against the aliens' superior weapons, and the aliens have no comprehension or respect for the dignity of the people they are conquering. They see humans as a food source, not as living beings. The narrator of the book is so shell-shocked by the invasion that he also at times fails to apprehend the humanity of his fellow terrified citizens. They become like aliens to him. When he fears that the ravings of a curate will reveal his hiding location to the Martians, he nearly kills the man, like he has become a savage beast: "I put out my hand and felt the meat chopper hanging to the wall. In a flash I was after him. I was fierce with fear. Before he was halfway across the kitchen I had overtaken him. With one last touch of humanity I turned the blade back and struck him with the butt. He went headlong forward and lay stretched on the ground. I stumbled over him and stood panting. He lay still" (Wells, Book 4, Chapter 2).

While the cruel behavior of the narrator of Wells' tale might be excused because of his desperate circumstances, a similar explanation will not satisfy excusing Claudio's behavior towards Hero in "Much Ado About Nothing." Shakespeare portrays a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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