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War of the Worlds - Wells' portrayal of the collapse of Victorian society - Part 2

War of the Worlds - Wells' portrayal of the collapse of Victorian society - Part 2

Wells displays the class stereotypes with extra emphasis through speech in chapter four; ‘It’s a-movin,’ he said to me as he passed – ‘a screwin’ and ‘a screwin’ out. I don’t like it. I’m a goin’ ‘ome, I am.’ This quote reinforces the idea that working class people are less intelligent, as they do not pronounce all their words ‘properly,’ and possibly repeat themselves. ‘I say!’ said Ogilvy, ‘help keep these idiots back. We don’t know what’s in the confounded thing, you know!’ This demonstrates the speech of a typical middle class Victorian. When Ogilvy says, ‘help keep these idiots back,’ Wells could be showing a middle class person looking down upon the lower class, by labelling them as idiots without any evidence, while, it could also be that Ogilvy is concerned for these people, not desiring any of them to be harmed, so he is simply shouting for help, not meaning to call them idiots; he may think they aren’t educated enough to know better than to go near the cylinder which could potentially be fatal. I think Wells wanted the reader to be able to relate to this (as only middle or upper class people would be able to read and afford the magazine with the story in it), so they are in the belief that Wells agrees with their negative view of the working class, so that when Wells introduces his lower class character that appears to be the most sensible and intelligent by far, the impact is much stronger; they may then think that perhaps they have judged people unfairly, merely on their class, which could in fact, be extremely inaccurate. Within this chapter, Wells shows that society is still intact, as there remains an obvious divide between the classes, with the middle class attempting to restrain the lower class. However, ‘I saw a young man, a shop assistant in Woking I believe he was, standing on the cylinder and trying to scramble out of the hole again. The crowd had pushed him in,’ does show a slight disintegration of society, as the lower class have actually ‘disobeyed. ‘I stuck my elbow into the person behind me,’ is an even better sign that the foundations of society have been shaken, as the narrator, a member of the middle class, who should behave in a polite and refined manner, has deliberately hurt someone who is perceived to know less than him. The audience would probably be appalled to think of someone of their status acting in such a way, and immediately come to the conclusion that they themselves wouldn’t do such a thing, but that may subsequently lead them to really question whether they actually would or not. Further on in the chapter, the narrator, once more defies his expected demeanour by, ‘running madly,’ when society says he should be able to contain his emotions, such as those that caused him to run away. Wells may have used the phrase, ‘running madly’ to tell the audience that regardless of class, we are all human, and thus prone to emotive reactions, or ‘weaknesses.’ 



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