Aliens: The Anthropology of Science Fiction

By George E. Slusser; Eric S. Rabkin | Go to book overview

12
H. G. Wells' Familiar Aliens

John R. Reed

When H. G. Wells was beginning his literary career, a number of intriguing books describing the human capacity to maintain the opposing traits of good and evil in the same self were commanding popular attention. The best remembered of these are Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ( 1886), Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray ( 1890), and Bram Stoker's Dracula ( 1896). These narratives offered a dramatic picture of human nature as a multiple structure composed of antagonistic elements. As Stevenson put it, "a polity of multifarious, incongruous and independent denizens." Stevenson's and Wilde's fables suggested that a man might detach one evil element of his nature from the others, Stoker's that a malign external power might invade one's self, subverting the will and releasing the evil impulses hidden there.

These stories are in a tradition of English fiction that presents man himself as a creature alien to his kind. Wells understood this tradition and experimented with it. He considered Stevenson's tale a "masterpiece" and imitated it in The Invisible Man ( 1897). Wells' main character, Griffin, whose very name suggests his oddly composite and mythical nature, is not strictly alien to his species, although his unique trait of invisibility places him at odds with his kind. Or so it first appears. In fact, it is not Griffin's invisibility but his lawlessness that makes him a threatening presence to his fellow men. Like Jekyll, Griffin has voluntarily released the greed and desire for power in himself only to discover that, once unconfined, these impulses become monstrous.

The Invisible Man was an ingenious variation on a conventional theme, but Wells' genuinely original contribution to the literature of aliens was his up-to-date demonstration that what is frightening within us may not only escape to terrorize others, but it may project

-145-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Aliens: The Anthropology of Science Fiction
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 252

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.