The Characters in War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
None of the major characters in the novel have names this helps us as readers identify with these characters and experience them simultaneously and fellow members of the human race.
The main Characters in the novel
The Narrator is presented as a measured, likeable, educated, philosophical man (some people argue he is a fictional version of the author H. G. Wells who like the narrator is very interested in science). His writing is interrupted by the arrival of the Martians, and he is one of the first people who are aware of their invasion. He faces many close-calls, but survives the invasion, clinging onto his sanity until he finds that the Martians have died. Then he loosens his grip on things for a few days and breaks down. His qualities of determination, good judgement, and a strong will to live along with his determination to be re-united with his wife, enable him to survive the ordeal more successfully than many others in the novel.
The Artilleryman has escaped death from the Martian’s Heat-Ray because this horse had tripped, he then walks into the Narrators garden and is taken in by the narrator. At this point the Artilleryman has a logical and cautious approach to the invasion, guiding the Narrator away from the third cylinder and ensuring they have provisions. He disappears from the narrative when he re-joins the military, until the Narrator meets him on Putney Hill. There is evidence that he has undergone great changes psychologically. He has impractical and implausible plans, but in reality simply drinks and plays games. We do not learn what happens to him after Narrator leaves him.
The Curate does not show religion in a very positive light. He becomes distraught and is unable to cope with witnessing the destruction of his church and Weybridge. Unable to cope He clutches on to the Narrator despite their completely incompatible characters. When they become trapped under the house in Sheen, the Curate’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and unmanageable. He refuses to ration food, or keep quiet to escape the attention of the Martians. Eventually the Narrator has to hit the Curate with a meat chopper, and he is taken by a Martian who comes to investigate. The Curate’s cowardice and apocalyptic ramblings make him a very unsympathetic character.
The brother is a medical student who takes over the narrative when his tale is related by the Narrator to reveal what has occurred in London during the Martian invasion. He is similar to the Narrator, logical and calm in a crisis. He demonstrates courage when he helps the Elphinstone ladies as they also try to flee. His common sense is seen throughout as they reach the Thames to board a ship to get away from Britain.
The Martians are a species that has developed great mental and technical abilities in order to escape their own planet, which is rapidly becoming uninhabitable. Physically, they resemble an octopus, with their many tentacles and a head that stands without a body, and they feed by injecting the blood from a live organism into themselves. They show no signs of mercy when they arrive on Earth, their intent being conquest rather than compromise. The are killed by an earthly bacteria.
Minor characters in the novel
The Wife is a fairly passive character. Her impact to the plot is through motivating the Narrator’s actions and allowing his narrative voice to develop through recounting at the dinner table his first impressions of the Martians. She demonstrates concern but is calm and dignified. The Narrator’s need to protect her and get her to safety is indicative of relationships in marriage at that time. The Narrator misses her and plans to reunite with her, which happens by the end of the novel.
Ogilvy is an astronomer who is the first to become aware of the cylinders coming from Mars. He mistakenly assumes that the first is a meteorite. Ogilvy works tirelessly to uncover the cylinder and is eventually one of the doomed deputation.
Henderson is a London journalist who accepts Ogilvy’s views of the landed cylinder and spreads the news. He goes with Ogilvy to see for himself. He also participates in the excavation efforts and the Deputation.
The Landlord is used in a similar way to the wife, in that he is not really a developed character but affects the plot through his effect on the narrator. He lends the narrator his dog cart since he fails to understand the magnitude of the Martian threat. On his return home after the Martian defeat, the narrator needs time to reflect on the scene of the broken dog cart and news of the landlord’s burial.
The Elphinstone Ladies
The Elphinstone ladies travel with the Narrator’s brother. The wife is passive and almost exclusively wrapped up in her concerns for her absent husband. The sister-in-law shows great spirit and courage, using a revolver to scare off the men and later persuading Mrs Elphinstone to get on the steamer.#