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The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

by H.G. Wells

Fate and Free Will Theme

We struggled a little with what to call this theme, but we're happy now with calling it "Fate and Free Will" – as if it was meant to be. There's a lot of Biblical-sounding language in The War of the Worlds and some discussion of religion, but there's not a lot of spiritual talk in this book, and God doesn't have a very big role. (That is, people yell "Good God" when something frightens them, but that's about it.) And yet, there is an undercurrent of a spiritual question that comes out most clearly in the end of the book: who (or what) is destined to inherit the world and the galaxy and (dare we dream?) the universe?

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. Is Biblical language used in this book to comment on fate?
  2. Is the question of fate and free will absolutely a question of religion? Or is there a way in which we can talk about science and fate in this book?
  3. Are there any particular moments in the text when the narrator or the characters talk more about fate and free will?
  4. Is it accurate to say that the curate and the artilleryman seem to hold completely opposite beliefs about fate and free will? If so, does the book seem to agree with one character more than the other? Or is there some third option?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In The War of the Worlds, Wells shows several characters dealing with fate and free will, but in different ways at different times. Because he does this, each reader will find a character whose viewpoint matches his or her own.

In The War of the Worlds, Wells argues that religious notions of fate are no longer useful now that we have some idea about the scientific forces that drive us onward.

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