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The War of the Worlds Study Guide by H.G. Wells

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KEY FACTS


Title:

The War of the Worlds

Author:

H.G. (Herbert George) Wells

Date Published:

1898

Meaning of the Title

Refers on a literal level to the invasion of the Martians and manís attempts to stop them from taking over. The book can also be seen as a social commentary on imperialism, whereby the clash of worlds would be between the British and native peoples they conquered and ruled under the British Empire.

Setting:

Britain (primarily around and in London; begins in town of Woking)

Genre:

Novel (science fiction)

Protagonist:

The narrator, who is never named

Antagonist:

Martians; also the curate and artilleryman to some degree

Mood:

Serious

Point of View:

First person limited (at times though the narrator inserts information that he later learns, especially the few chapters on his brotherís flight)

Tense:

Past tense


Rising Action:

The narrator leaves his house, meets the curate, becomes trapped in part of a house on the edge of the Martian pit, waits them out, and goes to London

Exposition:

First chapter, which tells of Mars cooling off and the Martians firing their canisters to land on an unsuspecting Earth

Climax:

The narrator stands on top of Primrose Hill and sees the dead Martians

Outcome:

The Martians have been killed off by a disease and life begins to return to normal, though memories and the knowledge gained are still fresh in mind

Major Theme:

The possible submission of men

Minor Themes:

The inhumanity of imperialism and other social problems (submission of men to machines as parallel to working-class conditions); Horrors of war; Science issues (conflict with religion, idea of natural selection, question of life on other planets)

VOCABULARY LIST


Deputation - delegation; the small group of men that approach the Martians with a white flag

Ululation - howl, wail

Kopjes - a small hill

Hamstringing - to make ineffective or powerless, cripple

Impetus - driving force, stimulus

Integument - skin, membrane, husk

Actuate - to move to action

Vitiated - to make faulty or defective

Efficacious - having the power to produce a desired effect

Navvies - an unskilled laborer, as on canals, roads, etc.

Fecundity - prolific, fertile

Languid - slow, without vigor or vitality

Precipitately - acting with haste

Putrefactive - decomposition resulting in foul smell

Sidereal - stellar, relating to the stars or constellations


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The War of the Worlds Study Guide by H.G. Wells

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