War of the worlds

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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H.G. Wells' classic novel War of the Worlds is one of the most profound prophetic novels ever written, comparable to other works such as A Brave New World and 1984 in that they predict events leading to the decline of mankind in times of social unrest. In this case, Wells has written a book in the time of a decline in British imperialism, and the events that take place in the tale critique both the actions and beliefs of the British supremacy in several ways. Wells also touches on the conflicts between religion and scientific evolution by writing in the science fiction genre, and his descriptions of the animal-like behavior of mankind in the shadow of impending extinction or enslavement are as historically founded as they are prophetic.

We are introduced to this idea of the belief of supremacy in the opening of the novel. The fact that "no one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligence greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own" enforces this indestructibility of European culture.

The beginning of Mars' assault on Earth is watched with little wonder other than a displaced curiosity. No concern or worry enters the minds of the locals, even after they discover that the sphere that has landed is extraterrestrial. Indeed, even after the sphere opens and the horrific Martians emerge and kill several people, this idea of supremacy does not fade. Gravity seems to act on the Martians "like a cope of lead" (perhaps this is an allusion to the punishment of the hypocrites in Dante's Inferno, where they were forced to wear beautiful robes that were of lead), and our narrator believes that, if worst comes to worst, "a shell...