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

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The War of the Worlds


H.G. (Herbert George) Wells

Date Published:


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.


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


Novel (science fiction)


The narrator, who is never named


Martians; also the curate and artilleryman to some degree



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)


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


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


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


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)


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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McCauley, Kelly. "TheBestNotes on The War of the Worlds". . 09 May 2017