The War of the Worlds Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1897, serial; 1898, book

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Science fiction

Time of work: Late nineteenth century

Locale: Woking and London, England

Characters DiscussedThe narrator

The War of the Worlds, Thenarrator, a man of intellectual curiosity who is interested in observing Mars through a telescope. One day, he sees harmless-appearing creatures emerging from a projectile fallen to Earth. The Martians, left undisturbed because they seem helpless, set to work making curious machines. These finished, they begin to lay waste to the countryside. The narrator, after taking his wife to Leatherhead, returns home to find the area defenseless against the Martians’ metal monsters. The Martians move on to London, which becomes a ruined city, but at last they fall victim to earthly bacteria, and the world is saved.

The narrator’s wife

The narrator’s wife, who is taken by the narrator to Leatherhead to escape the Martians’ destruction. Finally, after the deaths of the Martians, the narrator and his wife are reunited.

An artilleryman

An artilleryman, the only survivor of his outfit. He and the narrator escape together by hiding in bushes and streams.

A curate

A curate, with whom the narrator hides in a deserted cellar. The curate goes raving mad and, because silence is necessary to escape detection by the Martians, the narrator is forced to kill him. His body is taken by one of the Martians, whose diet consists of the blood of their victims.

BibliographyCosta, Richard Hauer. H. G. Wells. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1985. Praises the novel’s vivid imagery, its superb characterizations, its antiutopian theme, Wells’s scientific knowledge of life on Mars, and his extraordinary sociological grasp of his own times.Hammond, J. R. An H.G. Wells Companion: A Guide to the Novels, Romances, and Short Stories. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1979. Describes Wells’s ability to describe startling events happening to ordinary people, his remarkable anticipation of how crowds react to events of mass destruction, his superb evocation of actual settings, and his literary style. Includes a map showing the sites of the Martian invasion.McConnell, Frank. The Science Fiction of H. G. Wells. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981. Compares the novel’s themes to Wells’s work as a scientific journalist. Discusses the narrative’s image patterns, contrasting the novel with other tales of invasion, the uniqueness of Wells’s description of the Martians, the role of the curate, and the relationship between realism and fantasy in Wells’s fiction.Mackenzie, Norman, and Jeanne MacKenzie. The Life of H. G. Wells: The Time Traveller. Rev. ed. London: Hogarth Press, 1987. Compares the novel to scientific theories of catastrophe and stories of the apocalypse. Emphasizes the moral tone of the novel, written at a time when there was much discussion of a decadent England.Smith, David C. H. G. Wells: Desperately Mortal. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986. Emphasizes that the novel was written at a time when Germany was challenging England as a world power and invasion was on peoples’ minds. Explains Wells’s scientific knowledge, the precision of the plotting of the Martian invasion and of Wells’s descriptions.
Categories: Characters