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Hope by G.F. Watts

Wells on humanity

In the universe of Wells, there is no such thing as the rationally elevated human being. Whatever traces of humane feelings and reasoning arise throughout the narrative, they are sure to be destroyed through the sudden arrival of exceptionally and stressing situations. Through these narrative twists, the author aims to demonstrate that, in uncontrollable circumstances, the human being acts and reacts as any another animal – instinctively.

But Wells perfected his technique and plays constantly with our imagination: in “The Island of Doctor Moreau” we are first led to believe that the human form is privileged and superior, as Doctor Moreau chooses to give human shape to all his vivisected animals. It is only towards the middle of the story that we find out that Moreau’s choice was actually “random” – Moreau is not building a zoological monument to humanity – it is through the similarity (NOT distinctiveness) of the human frame to all other forms of life that the anthropomorphization of the animals is possible. The idea is further accentuated through the ending – when not only the animals lose their human qualities, but it seems to the narrator that humans themselves revert to their savage characteristics: ” I feel as though the animal was surging up through them; that presently the degradation of the Islanders will be played over again on a larger scale.”  The narrator himself cannot evade his animal condition: “I may have caught something of the natural wildness of my companions” .

In “The Star”, Wells takes everything one step further. Humanity is metaphorically “killed” through the coldness of the narrative voice which relates a planetary disaster from afar, with a surgical, journalistic voice. By taking the existence of Martians into consideration, as another race with complex culture and technology, Wells degrades human condition by making it something common in the randomness of life. Human beings are, just like the Star that crashes into the sun, a random occurence in the cycle of life and, ultimately, of the universe: “Which only shows how small the vastest of human catastrophes may seem at a distance of a few million miles.”

“The Martian astronomers were naturally profoundly interested by these things. They saw them from their own standpoint of course. “Considering the mass and temperature of the missile that was flung through our solar system into the sun,” one wrote, “it is astonishing what a little damage the earth, which it missed so narrowly, has sustained. All the familiar continental markings and the masses of the seas remain intact, and indeed the only difference seems to be a shrinkage of the white discolouration (supposed to be frozen water) round either pole.”

The Star- H.G.Wells

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