Bravely, Elberry has decided to publish a university essay he wrote on TS Eliot. This sent me down to the basement, past the various women I've kidnapped over the years, and into the labyrinthine recesses of my voluminous personal library. Here, between various dusty parchments and palimpsests, I uncovered my university English literature notes, and in particular the essay on HG Wells, submitted to Professor Parrinder, which forms the title of this blog.
It's rubbish, so I shall spare you all but an extract from the first page:
Whilst the Martians in the 'The War of the Worlds' are certainly portrayed as fearsome enemies, the narrator refrains from describing them as morally evil. In the opening pages, it is explained that the Martians launched their attack as part of the Darwinian struggle for existence. We learn that Mars is decaying, and it is asserted that the colonisation of another planet is their "only escape from the destruction that generation after generation creeps upon them." The Martians' strategy is interpreted as one of survival rather than aggrandisement.
The narrator warns that "before we judge of them [the Martians] too harshly, we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals...but upon its own inferior races." This attitude pervades the novel, the narrator repeatedly describing the relationship between Martians and humans as akin to the relationship between humans and animals. On various occasions, humanity is compared to lemurs, sheep, ants, bees, wasps, infusoria, and dodos. The implication is that if the Martians are morally evil, then so is humanity.
The narrator actually condemns humanity more strongly than he condemns the Martians. Mankind is described as "blinded by his vanity," complacently trusting in the security of human civilisation. The Martian invasion rids mankind of this attitude, and in this respect, is considered by the narrator to constitute a learning experience for mankind. An illustration of this is the protagonist's comment at the start of Chapter 7, (Book Two): "Surely, if we have learnt nothing else, this war has taught us to pity - pity for those witless souls that suffer our dominion."
Written at a time of strong, British colonial rule, it is significant that the novel depicts the population of England subjected to Imperialism. The implication is that, if the Martians are immoral, then so too are the British.