The Social Commentary of HG Wells



Before I pick up any book, I always like to read what other people think of the author and story.  Throughout my early days of researching War of the Worlds, I found several people discussing his social commentary.  So far I had not seen anything remotely close to social commentary.  I mean there was the whole invasion thing and the social commentary about how we react.  However, the mass exodus from London is the first scene in which I can clearly see the social commentary that Wells is so noted for.

In the scene there is a man who dropped his gold.  Instead of preserving his own life and safety, he chose to scramble after his money, being killed in the process.  It’s a sickening scene but not because of how gruesome his death is.  There are people who would rather die than lose a penny of their wealth and that has always sickened me.  The people in my life know that if I have a buck, so do they.  It’s just how I am.  I can’t take it with me and I certainly don’t need all of it.  I’m not a wealthy woman, far from it, but when I can help I do.  It’s probably one of those quirks about me that is most helpful to the people around me.

The scene clearly depicts the nature of greed and what Wells thought of it.  We know that Wells was a socialist.  He wrote whole books on the topic and in this scene we can see his socialist ideals come into play.  The greed, as he saw it, was not the result of a man’s hard work but the result of a man’s greed.  His death, at that point, is seen as a twisted form of justice.  If he would have just let those few coins he dropped go he would have lived.  The American view could be seen this way, that man could have worked for years for that savings.  That could have been all the money he had and every coin that dropped was like an ounce of his own blood, sweat, and tears.  However, that is the ideals of a free market.

What do you think is the clearest social commentary in War of the Worlds?

Challenge Chapters: Volume 2 – Chapters 1-3


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