War of the World and Marxist Criticism
Write a paper of interpretive literary criticism on War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Essays of literary criticism should aim to enrich the reading of
others by identifying and explaining aspects of the reading that you find significant. This does not necessarily mean you will reduce the story to a
simple meaning or message. Instead, you will show how the story creates meaning through its crafting of elements of fiction that may include
character, setting, plot, point of view, language, and style.
Apply a critical theory to the work, in this case Marxist criticism. Critical theories guide your analysis, hopefully taking you in directions you
may not have thought of otherwise. They help you focus on certain elements of the story and infer particular meanings from the language. For example,
Marxist criticism might direct your attention to depictions of socioeconomic classes like the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, ideology, false
consciousness, class consciousness, hegemony, alienation, commodification, othering, double consciousness, cultural hegemony, and repressive
ideologies like imperialism, consumerism, colonialism, individualism, etc.
Most of all, Marxist criticism urges us to see how novels grow out of the material and historical conditions of the author’s culture. So in addition
to using Marxism, you will also need to apply the research you have already done as part of your Victorian jigsaw project to your essay. Your thesis
must argue that the novel relates in a significant way to the topic you already explored: Utilitarianism, Positivism, Social Darwinism, Laissez-Faire
Capitalism, or the New Victorian Woman.
For example, if your project was Social Darwinism, you might look at how the novel criticizes the repressive ideology of one class dominating
another, especially under the guise of natural and objective science. If your project was laissez faire capitalism, you might chart the depiction of
the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in various characters through the novel or the effects of commodification on oppressed humans. For those who
researched positivism, Wells’ futurism as expressed by the narrator in the final chapters may be of interest. The New Victorian Woman could be
explored through Marxist and Post-Colonial concepts of othering.
In practical terms, this use of Marx and the jigsaw project means that each paragraph of the body of your essay should contain at least one reference
to Tyson and one reference to your research topic.
My jigsaw research project: Social Darwinism
Reference books: War of the Worlds H.G. Wells, Critical Theory Today Chapter 3 (Marxist Criticism pg. 53-61) by Lois Tyson
try to combine the concept of Social Darwinism with the story of War of the Worlds and how it relates to Marxist theory (e.g capitalism in the