O'Connell, Brendan Professor Holloway, ENG 475 3 December 2010 Essay 1 of 3 The Violent Nature of Mankind In a large amount

of work by H.G. Wells, man is shown as aggressive creatures that crave dominance. Though they have the ability to adapt and cooperate with their new surrounding, they will initially try to control, destroy, or overcome. In War of the Worlds, the entirety of mankind is in trouble and has absolutely no idea how to react. The first response is taken by a small group who believe that surrender is the best possible option, after being killed by a Martian heat-ray, the rest of humanity decides that they have to fight and conquer the invading species. Thus, the war begins, and the future of mankind is in question. This story of destruction shows Wells' fascination with the nature of humans and why fight is more commonly seen in the fight of flight response. In this story along with some of Wells' time travel stories and futuristic stories, the role of war or conflict is seen multiple times to show that the downfall of mankind will be division and fighting. Throughout the following work, it will be shown that Wells was a pacifist that was intrigued by the way that people react to new or unknown events or items. By showing violent conflict in a great deal of his work, Wells seems to be trying to get to the root of why mankind acts this way. The question of what human nature is constantly questioned throughout history, and having a philosophical writer as a narrator allows Wells to input his own ideas on war, fighting and the nature of mankind. This narrator's attempt to escape shows the other side of the flight of fight response and makes the reader think that perhaps fighting was the wise reaction, since there is really no way to escape the Tri-Pods. When they eventually die because of their own inability to adapt, the story can be seen as a sort of retelling of the Great Flood, granted there is no arc, but a large portion of humanity is destroyed and the strongest survivors have to rebuild the culture and society that they had. Wells shows this directly by saying “six million people, unarmed and unprovisioned, driving headlong, it was the beginning of the rout of civilisation, of the massacre of mankind.”(131) If there was a story

immediately following the actions of these stories, Wells would most likely have shown a restart of humanity that has a good deal of fighting and conflict. Essentially mankind has learned nothing from this event and continue their role as an aggressive species that only learns to cooperate with their known surrounding once they are dominant and can determine how things will play out Throwing something unknown at the people of Earth causes panic of something that is essentially unknown. We see this also in the reactions from Orson Welles 1938 radio adaptation of the story. The initial reaction of fear, violence, or panic of something unknown is what seems natural in humans. The thing that makes the nature of humans question interesting is that there are also people who are fascinated by the unknown and want to always know more. This contradiction shows that perhaps the true nature of humans will never be known. Oglivy's short moment of this story shows a warning of caution, which he then goes completely against. His harshly tones “We don't know what's in the confounded thing, you know!”(62) Sounds like the smartest possible thing anyone could have done, yet he chooses to jump into the pit, for science. Having a mystery to nature is something that Wells also seems to show with this story. You never know how the narrator will react, and the people that he meets are different and react with different emotions each time. The versatility of human emotion is very strange to Wells, or at least it seems that way. Judging his personality from this book alone, he seems seems to be saying that people are unpredictable, and therefore there can never really be an absolute singular nature to humanity. When our narrator meets the curate it leads to show this dichotomy of thinking that prevents people from banding together, saying “The fact is that we had absolutely incompatible dispositions and habits of thought and action, and our danger and isolation only accentuated the incompatibility”(154) Wells uses rhetoric, ethos, pathos and logos, to make a story of destruction also an argument piece about the nature of humanity and the need for change and adaptation in order to survive and thrive as a species. Humans have always had the notion that we are the top of the food web, when there logically has to be something that can destroy them. Having this false hope leads people to believe they

are unable to lose and will fight when challenged, when retreat would be a more logical decision. The flight or fight response is something commonly known about, but it seems that Wells is showing that the fight response is more common through humanity, especially with the people that have power to control others, like the government does. To show his characters surviving because they run away, Wells is obviously showing that the attack response made by the majority of the population was foolish and not well thought out. Wells has a plea for logical thinking and preservation of the species in this book. That plea may have gone unheard by many people, but the people that took the chance to listen what Wells was writing underneath this intriguing story walk away with a sense that a scientific approach is more conductive to the species and can help humans become stronger and avoid future wars with other worlds. In people we see the many differences that people have, and because no two people are exactly alike, there will always be a separation of ideals and the way that people think. Wells doesn't mention this directly, but by having the narrator's group and the others, he shows a dichotomy that displays the pros and cons for both ways of thinking. By showing a counter argument to his own ideas, Wells is able to make the argument for logic and making confrontation the last option. Looking at that first group that meets the Martians, it appears as if they are being logical by waving a white flag and approaching without any weapons. After the failure of that plan they choose to engage with a clearly superior species that is much stronger, larger, and more heavily armed than anything they could have imagined. They could have just run away though. For many years now, the idea of surrender is not ever an option in a fight. Wells shows that it's always a good option and that death is actually worse than running to a place the attackers can't get to. Wells' predictions of war first came true with The Shape of Things to Come and the first World War. By showing the violence of mankind in that story, along with War of the Worlds, he shows that violence only leads to more violence, destruction and eventually the downfall of mankind. The end of our species is something that no one really wants or looks forward to. Wells is trying to show that

unless we change as a species, we will all die and end up killing each other to the point of extinction. He doesn't go that far in this story, but rather is trying to say that if people ran away from the Martians after finding out they were dangerous, more people would have survived. Why did they react with fighting? Revenge is the most obvious answer. Humans are one of the only species in our known world that has the idea of vengeance, and Wells seems to show that it's a never ending loop that will continue until a realization is made that death does not mean more death needs to caused. The psycho-physiological response to attack first is something that Wells must have thought about, though there is no mention that he studied psychology anywhere. Human nature is constantly questioned, so what is Wells really trying to say with this story? It could be that mankind only reacts with violence when faced with death as the only other option. The narrator in this story obviously has some scientific background and uses his intelligence to survive. In many ways it may be a direct characterization of Wells himself. By inputing himself into the story directly he is able to make the character say exactly what he wants instead of using it as a projection and hiding his meanings through metaphors and complex story-telling. The story appeals to many because of its approachability and easiness to read. But if readers take the time to slow down and absorb every word that every character is saying, they will walk away with a greater appreciation of Wells and the message that he is trying to send. It's been a few decades since War of the Worlds was first published, but not much has changed as far as fighting goes, apart from the technological advances. Humans still fight, there is death on both sides of war, no one really “wins”, and the outcome is rarely peace and understanding. Wells had a vision of the future that became progressively bleaker as his life went on. Why have hope for humanity when most people only want to fight and destroy? He does have hope though, and it lies with the narrator and the people like him, those that will worry about survival, not vengeance or “winning” something. The narrator meets an artilleryman that says it best as he proclaims “men like me are on living—for the sake of the breed...we've got to live and keep independent while we learn.”(173)Wells

is clearly saying that life is not a game and is something that needs to be appreciated and enjoyed instead of squandered on fighting a losing battle. He shows that as long as human nature means that fight is the first response, humankind will never really progress into a state of strength. The message of unity and combining forces to become a very strong power is clear, and matches perfectly with Wells' socialist ideas.