The War of the Worlds

Not Quite Safe: Concluding The War of the Worlds 10th Grade

Although humanity survives The War of the Worlds, the ending of H.G. Wells's novel really is not reassuring at all. Though there do seem to be some positive effects such as advances in science, the Martian invasion obviously has its bad effects too: it has seemed to cause some sort of mental illness for the narrator, and probably for many other humans too. Moreover, the narrator talks about the likelihood of another invasion, if not from Mars then from other planets.

One of the reasons that the novel’s ending is not reassuring is that the invasion seems to leave many of the humans with a kind of mental illness, probably post-traumatic stress disorder. The narrator tells us in the Epilogue that occasionally, when he is writing in his study, he ‘see[s] the healing valley below set writhing with flames, and feel[s] the house behind and about [him] empty and desolate’. Since this is in the Epilogue, we know the Martians are dead, so these must be hallucinations. The fact that he imagines the house ‘empty and desolate’ shows that the Martians have left behind a kind of sadness that stays stuck so strongly that the narrator has it embedded in his subconscious mind. We must not forget there are some good effects as well. The narrator...

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