War of the Worlds Term Paper

Pages: 3 (989 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Literature

War of the Worlds was written over a decade before the outbreak of the first World War, H.G. Wells' seminal novel actually predicted the kind of mechanized, impersonal slaughter that would end up scarring an entire generation. Though the villains of Wells' novel hail from the planet Mars, their heat rays, mechanical tripods, and poison gas represent precisely the kind of industrialized warfare that Wells was predicting would arise during the coming century. As a result, despite the fantastic nature of the novel's plot, Wells narrates it with the detachment and precision of a journalist, implicitly suggesting that in this new world of mechanized horrors the only suitable role for the artist or author is one of criticism and prediction, rather than simple entertainment or even enlightenment.

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That Wells approached his work from a distinctly political perspective is beyond question, because although not all of his works included explicit political content or themes, he was nevertheless well-known for his politics, to the point that he unsuccessfully ran for Parliament twice as a Socialist (McConnell 176). Although The War of the Worlds is not heavy on socialist commentary, the novel does deal with Wells' belief in a conflict between "humanity's ability to control the forces which scientific discovery and invention have placed in its hands, and […] the consequences of science being abused by the ignorant or self-interested, especially in the causes of war and conquest" (Partington 47). In particular, the weapons of those "intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic" who "regarded this earth with envious eyes" represent the unrestricted use of science and technology in the service of warfare (Wells 9).

Term Paper on War of the Worlds Was Written Over Assignment

The aliens in The War of the Worlds have three central pieces of war technology, namely, their tripods, their Heat-Rays, and the Black Smoke that kills so much of the population of London (Wells 156). That these weapons are meant to represent the dangerous potential of science is demonstrated in the novel's epilogue, when the narrator recounts human scientists' attempts to analyze these weapons. The narrator references "the terrible disasters at the Ealing and South Kensignton laboratories" that have kept anyone from further investigating how the Heat-Ray works, and notes that "spectrum analysis of the black powder points unmistakably to the presence of an unknown element" (Wells 156). By framing these terrifying weapons in such stale, scientific terms in the epilogue, Wells subtly demonstrates the way in which the death and destruction that stems from the uncontrolled use of technological development can be sanitized and legitimated by the language of science. In the same way that science itself can contribute to violence and warfare, so too can the language of science serve to cover over the harsh realities of warfare. In revealing this tendency, Wells not only predicted the use of mustard gas during World War I and even the development of actual heat rays in the twenty-first century, he also demonstrated how easy it is for those in power to legitimize their… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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War of the Worlds.  (2013, March 15).  Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/war-worlds-written/4199075

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"War of the Worlds."  Essaytown.com.  March 15, 2013.  Accessed January 20, 2021.