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War Of The Worlds Essay Prompts

Why do the humans think they are immune from a Martian attack? Be specific, and give at least five reasons.

Why do the humans think they are immune from a Martian attack? Be specific, and give at least five reasons.

Why do the Martians choose Earth as a target for their invasion?

Why do the Martians choose Earth as a target for their invasion?

How does this novel show that crisis reveals a person's true character?

How does this novel show that crisis reveals a person's true character?

What advantages do the Martians have over the humans, and vice versa?

What advantages do the Martians have over the humans, and vice versa?

How and why do people use a crisis for personal gain in War of the Worlds?

How and why do people use a crisis for personal gain in War of the Worlds?

Describe the Martians in detail, and explain why they are so different from humans.

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1

The Martian invaders are terrifying in every aspect, but they possess one particular ability which in turn of the century would have been especially. What is the ability and why would it inspire terror among British readers more than other aspects?

While the Martians prove to be quite effective killing machines, seemingly capable of almost instant genocide, such weaponry would be the equivalent of ray-guns; something belonging solely to the world of speculative fiction around the turn of the century. The novel was published in 1898, just five years before the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk and already by then the challenge for man to learn to fly was producing a wide and varied machines and contraptions to make it a reality. Fear had already been stimulated that an enemy nation—most like Germany—might use hot air balloons to conduct warfare from the air and that was just the beginning. The description of an enemy able to move through the air and cover enormous territory and present itself as a threat from a position which severely limited defenses was most definitely not relegated merely to fictional, but was quite palpable for readers who could quite easily replace the Martians in their imagination with soldiers from another European power.

3

If the fear of an army invading England from the sky indicates adds to the terror for the reader, what elements of the novel might make them consider their own country inspiring fear as an invading force?

The Martians are most definitely intended to be interpreted on one level as an interplanetary stand-in for England and its imperialist aims around the globe. The idea of a flying enemy conducting warfare certainly inspired images of foreign pilots for British readers, but the larger portrait of a civilization with finite resources needing to colonize foreign lands for the purpose of supporting their needs and desires could be extrapolated as a symbol of any powerful nation taking over a less dominant civilization whether that real life example be Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella or England under Queen Victoria. British readers did not of first editions did not need to be particularly astute to make this connection, but to what extent the connection made sense probably depended a great deal upon the reader's own political persuasions.

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