H G Wells War Of The Worlds English Literature Essay

Herbert George Wells was born in a small town outside of London, called Bromly, on September 21, 1866 (Spartacus.schoolnet). Wells was the third son of a lower middle-class family. His father was a shopkeeper and his mother a house keeper. His mother first turned him onto books and he discovered a love for literature thereafter (Young, 226). “After basic education at a local school, Wells was apprenticed by a draper” (Spartacus.schoolnet). In the next few years, he taught and studied at Midhurst Grammar School, until he advanced to the Normal School of Science (kirgasto.sci.fi). There, he studied under T. H. Huxley, who taught him biology and served as an inspiration to him. In his biology courses, Wells was interested by Darwin’s theory of evolution and is believed to have converted from Christian to Darwinist (answersingenesis.org). He left college without a degree in 1887 but returned in 1890 to get his Bachelor of Science degree. The next year he took a job as a correspondence college teacher. Wells had a taste for women, because in 1891 he settled in London with his cousin Isabel, but then left her for one of his students, Amy Catherine, and was married to her in 1895. She bore him their first son in 1901 who they named George Philip. By then, Wells had become dedicated to writing (kirjasto.sci.fi). His first successful novel was The Time Machine which first showed the world his thoughts on evolution, theories of time, and his idea that man would eventually destroy themselves. Many of his stories show how science can benefit or destroy us, depending on how we (or someone else) choose(s) to use it (answersingenesis.org). Wells wrote many more successful novels including: The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and his classic War of the Worlds. War of the Worlds was so ground-breaking in fact, that it caused wide-spread panic on the Eastern Coast of the United States when it was radio broadcast in 1930 (kirjasto.sci.fi).

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“Passionate concern for society led Wells to join in 1903 the socialist Fabian Society in London” (kirjasto.sci.fi). In this group he fought with some of society’s leaders’ ideas that he felt would do more harm than good. Wells and the Fabian Society felt that gradual alterations, instead of socialism or communism, would help the economy and society be more just and fair. He started to use his books more as tools to spread his ideas and thoughts. “At the outbreak of war in 1914, Wells left his lover, Elizabeth Von Arnim, and began a love affair with a young journalist, Rebecca West, 26 years his junior” (kirjasto.sci.fi). The couple also had a son name Anthony. After the “Great War”, Wells wrote may non-fiction books and had gained popularity rivaling most celebrities. He joined the League of Nations on the Research Committee in 1917 and wrote even more books about the organization. Wells greatly disliked militarism and put it plainly as, “The professional military mind is by necessity an inferior and unimaginative mind, no man of high intellectual quality would willingly imprison his gifts in such calling” (kirjasto.sci.fi). Wells understood of some of the Soviet aims when they came into power, rationing so that everyone would be provided for, but he did have his doubts about them. During Hitler’s, Stalin’s, and Mussolini’s rise to power, Wells wrote a book on the psychological development in a dictator. Wells stayed in London during World War II, even during all the bombings by German planes.

H. G. Wells wrote his last book, Mind at the End of its Tether, in 1945. He speculated on humanity’s future prospects, and his views were bleak. He often thought about mankind’s future with pessimism. “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe” (kirjasto.sci.fi). Wells died in on August 13, 1946, in London, but people still remember him and his great works as the gateway to modern science fiction (online-literature.com).

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Summary of War of the Worlds

In the late 1800’s humans were busy living their day to day lives. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the solar system evil plans were being hatched. Humans and earth were being studied by with sciences light years ahead of their own. Martians were planning to invade earth. They had used up all the resources on their planet and it was quickly decaying. Seeing the imminent doom, the Martians looked for a suitable planet to re-colonize and they chose earth, but they didn’t want to share it (Wells 377).

In the turn of the century, the Martians made their move. They sent their forces through the void of space to earth. Many astronomers watching Mars saw the flashes of light but didn’t think anything of them, or that if there was intelligent life they were just trying to make contact. When the spacecrafts did hit in England, they were taken for as meteorites, until people got a closer look at them. Made of yet unidentified metal and cylindrical, there was no way it was a meteorite. Then the tops of the capsules began to twist and slowly come off. The aliens came out gingerly, testing and reacting to our different atmosphere, then suddenly, they attacked! They shot a type of heat ray at the crowd that had gathered to observe them. People ran for their lives back to the safety of their homes. When the military got there, they tried using artillery on the pods and Martians, but by then it was too late. The Martians had already constructed one of their tri-pod fighting machines with heat ray attachments. Many battles ensued. The Martians found their other crashed cylinders and constructed more tri-pods. It was all downhill from there. Our forces fought valiantly but were no match for the tri-pods and heat rays. Battle after battle, loss after loss, many dead. It wasn’t a war, it was an extermination. By now humanity had two things in common, fear and a need to survive. They tried to flee the cities where the aliens had invaded.

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The main character (who is unnamed in this story) watches all these events happen to him and his fellow man. When he tries to flee his home, he and his wife are separated and he meets and artillery man from a previous battle with the Martians. They try to take a boat, with civilians fleeing on it, back to HQ but find themselves in the midst of another battle. It was a loss for humanity but they did manage to kill one of the tri-pods which proved that they weren’t invincible. The two men ran and hid outside of London for a few days. They had come to the conclusion that all was lost and that humanity was finished. They tried to come up with plans on how to survive, but the longer they hid out the crazier the plans had become. There just didn’t seem to be anyway to win against the Martians. Then, the next day, the most incredible thing happened. As the two went out to scrutinize London’s destruction they found not a burning city but instead Martian tri-pods turned over and their operators dead on the ground (Wells 378-527). “Martians-dead!-slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all of man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things by which God, in his wisdom, put upon this earth” (Wells 528). Humanity had survived. Healing and rebuilding would come in time. People would return home to their families. All, a little more wiser and thankful to God, where they had failed, he had triumphed. All over the world people were cheering and celebrating for the new life they had gained. Our main character returns home to find his wife waiting there for him and they hug and forever love each other. Humanity had learned to always keep the faith and never stop fighting, especially for survival (Wells 529-536).

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H. G. Wells’ Influences

Considered to be one of the best British authors of all time and one of the fathers of modern-day science fiction stories, many people want to know what gave H. G. Wells his inspiration and what are his influences. Surely, growing up in a lower middle class family with his three older siblings to play with gave him an imagination. Add that with his mother introducing him to literature and Wells loving it , it’s no wonder how he created his famous stories (war-ofthe-worlds.co.uk). Wells’ mother was brought up as a strict Protestant and more than likely passed it on to her children, but the idea of evolution by Darwin also intrigued Wells. These two influences come up many times in Wells’ writing. In The Time Machine, Wells demonstrated that mankind can be greatly benefitted by sciences but what we choose to do with that power and knowledge can lead to catastrophe (answersingenisis.org). In War of the Worlds, an apocalyptic attack of aliens brings humanity on the very edge of extinction but his prevented by divine providence, “killed by the humblest things God, in his wisdom put on this planet” (Wells 528). In his later books, Wells wrote on modern day problems in different atmospheres, such as The Holy Terror, in which the psychological side of a dictator is shown during Hitler’s rise to power. Wells believed in science as the key to the advancement of the human race because of his teachings from the Normal School of Science. The more we know the wiser we can be, but after living through the two great world wars and anything else that was evil between Wells’ birth and death, he often viewed that mankind would eventually destroy themselves and looked at our futures with pessimism (kirjasto.sci.fi). “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe” (kyrene.org).

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H. G. Wells’ Main Themes

Wells wrote many books but his most famous (and probably best) were apocalyptic, science fiction stories. The Time Machine and War of the Worlds both portrayed end of the world scenarios that were either solved by science or by God (kirjasto.sci.fi). Many of Wells’ themes from his books are about science. How science can greatly improve our lives and lead to prosperity, or how science can kill us all. The human evolution, how we’ve changed, not just in appearance, but in morality and in the sciences, since the beginning until now plays a big part in Wells’ stories. “Evolution, however, is not linear and Wells was well aware that society would not continue to improve (in his opinion), but would also suffer setbacks. Wells appears to be hoping that over time the human race will overcome its foibles, but also knew that mankind’s baser elements were always lurking to reverse what Wells would consider progress” (sfsite.com). Wells tries to show how we can somewhat control not only our own destinies, but how we influence future generations by what we do now. Our choices combined with our technologies play an immense part in the future of mankind. Another theme from his works is to never give up, keep fighting, always keep faith. In his science fiction stories, there are numerous times where the main character could accept defeat, but they didn’t. They kept going, whether it was saving their woman in The Time Machine or survival in War of the Worlds they never quit and they believe that they can accomplish their goal (with a little divine intervention in some cases). Wells shows in his stories how human nature is evil and could destroy us all but it only takes a few good people to get the rest of society back on track and work toward the greater good. “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the human race” (kyrene.org).

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H. G. Wells’ Stylistic Devices

Wells’ style in his books may not be what people expected if they’ve never read them before. “Those who have not read The War of the Worlds may be surprised to find that, like much of Wells’ writings, it is full of poetry and contains passages that catch the throat” (kirjasto.sci.fi). Wells growing up in nineteenth century London would have of course been more proper and used powerful words and sentences to reach his audiences. As one of the founders of modern day science fiction he also had an imagination and almost glimpses of the future when it came to matters such as the fourth dimension, space flight and other technologies/scientific advancements. He gave his readers the same imagination when they read his books and they too were captured by his ideas. He also wrote a lot of first-person stories such as War of the Worlds. He did anything he could to try to connect with his readers because his real style of writing was trying to pass his ideas to his readers by what he wrote. His books gave people hope for the future by showing them that we can greatly benefit ourselves with technology but we must be wise with how we use it. Wells also made many comparisons in his stories. In The Time Machine, the two groups of people: Eloi and Morlocks, are really what mankind’s futures could be. Peaceful existence or death and destruction. Well’s styles of writing, using poetry and first person, are all toward connecting with his audiences to show them how they can help change the world. He writes his stories from all different kinds of perspectives to try to reach all people so he can show them how they can help each other. His style of writing about the future is usually grim and apocalyptic and that really gets to people if you say that if things stay the same here is the result. Wells’ style really drove home his themes because they were powerful and poetic and showed what human nature really is, and that is a lesson we shouldn’t forget (kirjasto.sci.fi).

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H. G. Wells’ Characters

H. G. Wells uses a wide variety of characters for his stories. Whether it’s a mad scientist who turns himself invisible, a common English gentlemen who is forced to flee his home because of Martians or a inventor who can travel through time, nothing is impossible in the world of science fiction. Well’s characters were usually men with good morals, who try to benefit others. They also all have one thing in common, they portray human natures. Whether that might be survival or saving a women you love; they never give up or they fend for themselves. They show a struggle of the constant battle within ourselves to do what is right or what is wrong (kirjasto.sci.fi). Many of his main characters also have a sidekick or companion who shares their adventures with them. They are either supportive and help the main character in any way they can (even if that includes sacrificing themselves for others) or they need to be cared and watched out for. “I walked about the hill among the Morlocks looking for some trace of Weena” (Wells 80). We can all relate to these characters in some way, because Wells draws them out from our society. He transforms our modern day problems, divisions of society and morals into characters and stories that portray our lives. The Martians are barbarians with power, Morlocks are savages and evil, Eloi are the nice people who get along with everyone, and the main characters are usually just an average, everyday person (with a special talent) who treads the path between right and wrong. That’s why in his best stories, Wells doesn’t give the main character a name. It makes gives us a better connection to the story and shows us how our choices and actions can shape tomorrow and define who we are. The characters in Wells’ stories show us the true faces of mankind, whether we like it or not (kirjasto.sci.fi).

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Test Over H. G. Wells and The War of the Worlds

Multiple Choice

Where was H. G. Wells born?




H. G. Wells was known as the father of what type of story?

science fiction



Who first got H. G. Wells interested in literature?

his father

his grandfather

his mother

Wells was born into what type of family?



lower-middle class

What type of Christianity did Wells’ mother teach her children?




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What planet were the aliens from in The War of the Worlds?




What was the aliens’ terrifying weapon?

freeze ray

heat ray

transformation ray

Who was the main character in The War of the Worlds?




What time period did the aliens attack earth?

late 18th century

late 19th century

late 20th century

What was the main alien fighting machine?


flying saucers


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How did the aliens get to earth?


flying saucers


How are the aliens defeated?

humane weapons

other aliens

microscopic bacteria

After school, Wells believed in what theory?

Darwin’s theory of evolution


big foot

Who did Wells mainly study under in school?

Albert Einstein

T. H. Huxley


How many siblings did Wells have?




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Wells believed advancements in ____ would lead to a better world?




What does H. G. Wells stand for?

Herbert George Wells

Henry Gilligan Wells

Hue Grant Wells

What college did Wells attend?



Normal School of Science

Why did the aliens come to earth?

to kill humans


find a new planet to dwell in

When did Wells die?




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True or False

Wells had multiple wives. ___

Wells looked toward humanity’s future with optimism. ___

Wells first famous scientific story was The War of the Worlds. ___

Wells often wrote about apocalyptic futures or events. ___

Wells loved the idea of militarism. ___

Wells joined the Fabian Society. ___

Wells was a part of the League of Nations. ___

Wells characters were based off of the people, morals, and social classes of his time. ___

One of Wells’ wives was his sister. ___

Wells liked the idea of communism. ___

Short Answer

H. G. Wells is known as the father of the modern ____.

At an early age Wells was apprenticed by a ___.

Wells believed that ___ was the key to advancing to prosperity in the future.

Wells’ mother taught him a love for ___.

H. G. Wells settled in what city?

What words are used to describe the bacteria that killed the aliens in War of the Worlds?

What is the main theme from The War of the Worlds?

Wells used what type of stylistic device in War of the Worlds to better connect with the reader?

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“Human history is more and more a race between ___ and ___.”

Give two of Wells’ influences.

Short Essay

Explain why Wells viewed humanity’s future with pessimism.

Give one of Wells’ themes and explain it

Explain some of Wells stylistic devices

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Test Answer Key

Short Answer




















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True False











Short Answers

science fiction stories





humblest things God put on the earth

never give up/have faith in God

first person view

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education and catastrophe

childhood, mother, evolution, space, flight, time, etc.


Believed that even with scientific advancements our own basic human nature would still pit us against each other and we would be either too stubborn to learn from one another to better ourselves or eventually with new technological advancements kill everything.

Never give up. One thing in life you should never do. Never stop fighting for what is right because all it takes is one person to stand for what they believe in and they will inspire many others. Giving up = death. Pressing on = survival and prosperity.

Wells used first person view in some of his stories to better connect with the audience and also used that so he could impress some of his views onto his readers. Also he used poetry and powerful sentences to connect with readers.

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