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What is the effect of the juxtaposition of the ordinary and the extra-ordinary in the War of the Worlds?

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Introduction

What is the effect of the juxtaposition of the ordinary and the extra-ordinary in the 'War of the Worlds?' Wells combines hyper-realism with his own extremely active imagination in War of the Worlds to create an ambiance from start to finish, where the extra-ordinary and the ordinary are inexplicably combined to make phrases, paragraphs and chapters that builds up to the point where we are no longer even sure what is normal or abnormal. Because of the very nature of the book we expect the extra-ordinary but I think we do not expect so many ordinary elements to make an appearance, especially in such quantity and in such close juxtaposition with the extra-ordinary. By combining elements such as the arrival of the Martians with thoughts of what cake to have with afternoon tea, Wells manages to create an effect of confusion within the reader. It causes us to alienate ourselves from the characters because we do not understand their complete and utter ignorance of the extra-ordinary. Our taste of the extra-ordinary comes in the second chapter of the first book titled 'The Falling Star'. Wells describes the falling projectile as 'an ordinary falling star' in the first chapter, briefly tricking us into thinking that this mysterious flying object is nothing more than a harmless lump of rock. But instead of leaving us to be fooled, Wells, through the narrator, goes on to give a vivid and circumstantial account of the falling star which is obviously far from customary. ...read more.

Middle

This effect, which confuses us to the Martians true intentions, then, makes the shock of the hostile Martian take-over even more profound. But Wells has not finished confusing us. The contemporary reader automatically assumes that everyone would have heard about the Martians and be terrified by them because in our modern society, news travels fast. But in chapter 7 'How I Reached Home' the narrator, who by now was terrified and 'so haggard', encounters some 'common' folk to whom he asks for news from the common. The reply to this question is an inarticulate and surprise 'Eh?' from one of the men. 'Ain't yer just been there' one the men asks in complete disbelief and surprise of the narrator. For us the reader it is very frustrating and confusing that these people do not understand and have absolutely no clue of the danger that is on their doorstep. We are also surprised; we did not expect Wells to continue with this juxtaposition of the ordinary and extraordinary because the plot is now so riddled in the extraordinary that we think the ordinary is the think of the past. This surprise continues the next chapter as well. Instead of the extraordinary becoming more prolific, the narrator tells us that everybody is getting on with their lives: 'All over the district people were dining and supping, working-men were gardening after labours of the day, children were being put to bed, young people were wandering through the streets love-making, students sat over their books.' ...read more.

Conclusion

I think that Wells' objective throughout the book was to build up the terrible things that the Martians did. I think that he wanted to make the reader so confused with mankind's complacency that, when something really extraordinary and terrifying happening, the shock would be maximised. This effect is achieved through his skilful placing of things like 'breakfast at Henderson's' with the terrifying 'heat-ray' together to make an ambience of confusion and detachment from the situation. He really wanted to draw attention to our complacency, which when put in context with the current affairs of the time, would have drawn attention to our complacency in regards to the threat of Germany. Its not merely a book, it is a social commentary of how we as human beings think we are so untouchable in our little worlds that when something huge does happen, be it a World War or a Martian invasion, we are completely unprepared and therefore almost deserve to be wiped out for our own arrogance in our abilities. If this effect had not have been used, I think that the readers would not have felt such a shock at the terrible things written within this book and that the juxtaposition of the extraordinary and the ordinary draws in the reader, so that they are captivated from start to finish through Wells determination to create inner turmoil and his eagerness to prove our complacency as a race. ?? ?? ?? ?? Emily Cramond-Wong RAA First draft ...read more.

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