How does H.G Wells present humanity in the War of the Worlds
Humanity can be defined as the features and qualities that make people humans or as the sympathy and kindness that is extended towards others. In the War of the Worlds, humanity is lost from the start, as the narrator explicitly references the extermination of the indigenous population of Tasmania by British colonies, and says that we humans, are not to judge them because we too had once wrought “ruthless and utter destruction,” upon our own inferior races. Thus, the Martians could be Well’s criticism on British imperialism or they could representative of Wells’ opinion of where he believed humanity was going, with technological and scientific advancements aiding the stronger to take advantage of the weaker, depicting man’s own inhumanity to themselves.
When the Cylinder opens, a shopkeeper accidentally falls into the cylinder’s pit, and instead of the narrator instantly helping him, the narrator says “I had a momentary impulse to go back and help him that my fears overruled.” In this situation, his instinct is to preserve his own life, at the expense of his fellow man. This could be Wells’ attempt to show man’s primitive nature, and how we, like many other creatures, rely on our instincts of self-protection. The narrator uses his fear, as a survival mechanism which influences his actions. This suggests that in time of chaos and fear, humanity is lost in humans, and our first instinct is preservation.
Humanity continues to break down, when the Martians begin to use their heat ray. This is seen when “two women and a little boy, were crushed and trampled…and left to die” during the Martian invasion. Victorians of that time believed that the pecking order was that women and children come first, seeing as they were presumed to be more fragile. The death of the two women and little boy, shows how people were quick to disregard their own beliefs, and values, in the face of calamity. Therefore, emphasizing the deterioration of humanity. Not too long after this, a metaphor is used to liken dead bodies to just “a dark heap” lying on the road, and this dehumanizes them in a way which originally would not have been accepted before the arrival of the Martians, further highlighting the loss of humanity.
The fall of humanity is also seen in the curate, as his mental state begins to deteriorate over the period of time that him and the narrator are hiding from the Martians. This is seen as the “atrocity,” that is the Martians, is said to have “robbed” the Curate “of all vestiges of reason or forethought.” This personification of “atrocity,” brings the cruelty in the word to life, at the same time the sanity in the curate dies. This can be said to be representative of the loss of humanity, because Religion is one of the big qualities that instilled values into the Victorians of the time, therefore the rise of the Martian cruelty, (personification of the w...