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The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds


by H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds Fear Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Volume.Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

And invisible to me because it was so remote and small, flying swiftly and steadily towards me across that incredible distance, drawing nearer every minute by so many thousands of miles, came the Thing they were sending us, the Thing that was to bring so much struggle and calamity and death to the earth. (1.1.13)

Since the narrator is telling us this story retrospectively, he can do all sorts of foreshadowing. Heck, in the very first line he could say, "Martians invaded and then died of colds." But he doesn't. (He's a better storyteller than that). Rather, notice how the narrator manages our emotions by telling us just a little bit. For example, here, he reminds us that something really bad is coming for us. Scared yet? One thing to think about in terms of the theme of fear is not just whether the characters are afraid, but how the book tries to get a rise out of us too.

Quote #2

Suddenly, like a thing falling upon me from without, came fear. (1.5.21)

Put this next to the narrator's comment that "My terror had fallen from me like a garment" (1.7.4) and we start to get a sense of his weird relationship with emotions. The narrator often talks about his emotions as if they were something outside of himself. Now, we think that fear is one of the main emotions of the book – what else are you supposed to feel when invaders come to your town with Heat-Rays? – yet the narrator treats it like something outside himself. That's weird, isn't it? Maybe he's trying too hard to be an objective witness to these events.

Quote #3

The fear I felt was no rational fear, but a panic terror not only of the Martians, but of the dusk and stillness all about me. (1.5.23)

Well, we've never been through a Martian invasion, but this seems more realistic, doesn't it? Just totally freaking out – that seems about right. Interestingly, the narrator distinguishes between fear and panic. What do you think is the difference between the two? Is one emotion a more useful response in a dangerous situation than the other?

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