Sunday, December 4, 2011

War of the Worlds

I'll split this into three parts since it's fairly long.  The essay is for a class I'm taking about monstrous aspects of books in relation to social theory using 18/19th Century for a comparison to modern.  This post is a copy of an essay that deals with H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds.


"War of the “Center”


The Geocentric Model, in which the earth is the center of the universe, may be an obsolete astronomy concept from ancient Greek philosophy, but the ideology behind Geocentrism has not been completely eradicated from human culture. The hierarchal scale of the Great Chain of Being, a concept that began to break apart in the 15th century, privileged nobility and certain aspects of the clergy and was a welcomed reinforcement of the medieval power structure; it still placed humans below the celestial beings such as angels and God. Humans were not the center. But in the late 1800’s when Fredrick Nietzsche brought into question God and Christian morality, culturally humans began to retake a centralized position. Once again we became the hierarchal privileged pinnacle. These concepts are highly simplified and may be a hypothetically sweeping stereotype of humanity, but in H.G. Wells’ “The War of The Worlds” one of the most monstrous aspects, one that branches out into other monstrous traits, is the notion of humankind’s Geocentristic attitude. He focuses on the hierarchal nature embedded within culturally normative values of European society in order to express the astronomy-applied-to-individual concept. Each idea leads to another monstrous claim that Wells uses in order to make a type of critique on social values.

The concept of humanity as 'Center' is established immediately as "with infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter" (Wells 3). The monstrous component on a general scale is injected right from the beginning in order to make apparent this core argument. In order to further establish a Geocentric Model of monstrous proportions, two examples are shown within the embodied of the characters: the curate and the artilleryman, both of who, through their actions, becomes a danger to the narrator. The curate is described as "lacking in restraint...weak creature... and careless" (149) which typify, in this example, the characteristics of a selfish individual who has become Geocentric. When the narrator and the curate find themselves stuck inside the half destroyed house next to the fifth capsule this 'Centralism' becomes dangerous.

The curate's spiral to madness and inability to see beyond himself threatens the life of his companion and requires the narrators "last touch of humanity" (156) to save himself by permanently silencing the curate. The artilleryman is similarly shown as a part of this spectrum of self-centered individuals, though in this instance does not provide the same type of physically dangerous element as the curate, instead his threat becomes that of his characteristics. The narrator "saw the man plain"(181), that "his quality"(182), or lack of, was diminished in his indulgence of food, spirits and card games in the midst of destruction. It is not so much these actions by themselves that shine a negative light on the artilleryman but the lack of action in comparison. The artilleryman spins a grandiose tale of conquering and saving the human race, yet these words prove to be hollow. These examples go beyond Geocentrism due to other arguments Wells establishes throughout the book, yet these characters still maintain a connection with the idea of 'man as center'.


  1. Interesting post. I've seen the movie many times and never saw all that.

  2. Very good, i too have seen the movie several times, this essay i like much. Waiting for the 2º and 3º parts

  3. Wow, look amazing, but is too much text D:
    I should see the movie

  4. i loves movies like this one its great:)

  5. Awesome!! I want to watch it! =D