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The War Of The Worlds: Cultures In Collision

866 words - 4 pages

There are two main cultures in The War of the Worlds, the Martian culture and the British culture. In the novel, there are several cultural similarities between H.G. Wells’ Martians and the British Empire of the 19th Century. These similarities include colonialism, superior intellectual skills, and advanced weaponry. In addition, there are also cultural similarities between the human race represented in the novel and the Tasmanian Aborigines dominated by the British Empire in the 19th Century. These similarities include inferior intellectual skills, primitive weapons, and geographic isolation.
The invading Martians are a colonialist culture. Margaret Kohn defines colonialism as “a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another” (Kohn). Assumedly, the Martians are already the dominant culture on Mars. After conquering their own planet, they moved on to Earth to expand their territory farther into the universe. The Martians are a highly intellectual race and far more technically advanced than the human race. As the narrator states, “intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of” (Wells 2). The reason the Martians invade Earth is to colonize. The Martians’ home planet, Mars, is reaching the end of its lifespan. They choose to invade Earth based on its proximity to Mars, warmer climate, and abundant resources. The Martians never exhibit any interest in coexisting with the human race; there is no mention of a peace treaty anywhere in the novel. They plan to dominate the Earth, wiping the human race from existence. Their weapons are highly sophisticated. The primary weapon used by the Martians is the Heat-ray. The heat-ray incinerates everything in its path, leaving a “heap of fiery ruins” (Wells 20). The depiction of the Martian Heat-ray is comparable to a human intensifying sun light rays with a magnifying glass to burn anthills. The human race is defenseless against it. The Martians plant red weeds in an attempt to shape the Earth to their cultural needs, but the red weed does not survive. Despite the Martians superior intellect, they fail to consider all the hazards of colonizing another planet. The Martians have no immunity to the diseases on Earth. The Martians’ attempt to colonize Earth ultimately leads to their demise.
The British Empire was also a colonialist culture in the 19th Century when the novel takes place. By the end of the 19th Century, Britain had already conquered a large portion of the known world. Similar to the Martians, the British showed little respect to the existing cultures of the lands they invaded. The narrator compares the extermination of Tasmanians Aborigines by European immigrants to the Martian invasion (Wells 2). The...

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