Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Essay on "The Country of the Blind" and "The Star" by H. G. Wells

Editor's Note:  Despite numerous attempts to correct the formatting errors in this post, blogspot has proven unable to format this post properly.

Editor's Note: This essay was submitted as part of the writing requirement for the MOOC Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World offered by the University of Michigan.

H. G. Wells creates interesting plot twists in his short stories “The Country of the Blind” and “The Star.” He does this by showing how the same situations may be interpreted in startlingly different ways when seen from different perspectives or points of view.

When Nunez finds himself in the Country of the Blind, he at first views its inhabitants as inferior and ripe for conquest. He recalls the old saying, “In the Country of the Blind, the One-eyed Man is King.” From his perspective, his sense of sight makes him superior. The reader, most likely using his or her own ability to see in order to read the story, should be inclined to agree. However, the reader is in for a surprise. Wells cleverly demonstrates how, from the perspective of the country’s well-adapted blind inhabitants, it is Nunez who is inferior to the point of being considered to be mentally defective and physically awkward.

In “The Star,” the effects that the rogue star wreaks on the earth are catastrophic from the point of view of the inhabitants of earth. Wells could have chosen to tell the story from this one perspective and still offered an interesting tale. Instead, Wells ups the ante by ending his story with a surprise twist--when viewed from the perspective of Martian astronomers, the cosmic near collision is thought to result in only minor effects, such as a decrease in the size of the earth’s polar ice caps.

In conclusion, Wells demonstrates that the same events or circumstances may tell radically different stories depending upon the perspectives of the characters. The plot twists that are a result of exploiting this imaginative idea make for more interesting reading.

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