Literary Criticism on The Star by H.G. Wells - Research Paper Example Â Both of them along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback has been referred to as "The Fathers of Science Fiction". They have always been at the forefront of scientific thinking, they challenged the traditional and conservative views of many people who rejected the advanced and innovative research ideas and stubbornly followed old, outdated conceptions of the universe, the origin of man and the so-called â€œhigher divine power.â€ In this work, we will make an attempt to reflect the points of view of both writers to the power of human thought, the role of science in the modern world, as well as the growing conflict between traditional religious beliefs and progressive scientific views. The objects of this essay are the novels â€œThe Starâ€ by H.G. Wells and â€œThe Starâ€ by Arthur C. Clarke. â€œThe Starâ€ by H.G. Wells is an apocalyptic short story written in 1897. It tells us that one day all mankind of the Earth was notified about the penetration of a new star into the solar system. Having disturbed the normal orbit of the planet Neptune, the star quickly approaches the Earth. At first, this fact concerns only astronomers, other people all around the world continue their everyday life not paying much attention to the unknown star. A famous master mathematician publishes his calculations according to which â€œthe star would either hit Earth or pass by at close proximity, which would lead to apocalyptic ecological consequencesâ€ (Wells). The terrible prognoses come true and soon the whole planet is overwhelmed with earthquakes, ice-melting, floods, tsunamis causing â€œthe devastation across the world. Most of the human population perishes, and its works remain unusable, cities, cathedrals, farms, etc. and when it seems that nothing can save the humanity the killing star suddenly slightly changes its orbit about the Earth to a more distant oneâ€ (Wells).
In Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) presents an accessible description of existentialism. A key idea of existentialismâ€”and of the human conditionâ€” is that existence precedes essence. The essence of something is its meaning, its intended purpose. A paper cutter is made to cut paper; that is its point. Humans, however, do not have an essence. Man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. We have no greater purpose, no pre-determined plan, no ultimate meaning. We have, in Sartreâ€™s words, no human nature, since there is nothing (e.g. God) outside of us which would conceive of it for us. We are simply here, and it is up to us to define ourselves. Responsibility Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. We have choice, we have subjectivity, and we choose what we will make ourselves to be; we are entirely responsible for our existence: Thus, existentialismâ€™s first move is to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him. This thought is often not easily accepted. â€˜Subjectivityâ€™ is a word that riles up many. â€œIf everything is subjective then nothing is objective; nothing is absolute! Our values are nothing more than our whims! Nothing is right or wrong! Rabble, rabble, rabble!â€ Sartre replies that, â€œit is impossible for man to transcend human subjectivity.â€ He isnâ€™t saying â€œI prefer subjectivity over objectivity,â€ heâ€™s asking, â€œhow can we possibly not be subjective?â€ Even the religious individual who believes that morality is absolute and comes from God must, at some point, choose to believe that this is the case. Our responsibility is a blessing and a curse. It leads us to feel things like anguish, forlornness, and despair. Anguish We experience anguish in the face of our subjectivity, because by choosing what we are to do, we â€˜choose for everyoneâ€™. When you make a decision you are saying â€œthis is how anyone ought to behave given these circumstances.â€ Many people donâ€™t feel anguish, but this is because they are â€œfleeing from it.â€ If you donâ€™t feel a sense of anxiety when you make decisions, itâ€™s because you are forgetting about your â€œtotal and deep responsibilityâ€ toward yourself and all of humanity. Forlornness Forlornness is the idea that â€œGod does not exist and that we have to face all the consequences of this.â€ There is no morality a priori. There is no absolute right or wrong. There is no ultimate judge. This is a very distressing idea. As Dostoievsky said, â€œIf God didnâ€™t exist, everything would be possible [permissible].â€ Without God we have nothing to cling to. â€œThere is no determinism, man is free, man is freedom. [â€¦] We have no values or commands to turn to which legitimize our conduct.â€ In other words, we have no excuses, and we are entirely responsible for our decisions. What are our values? The only way to determine them is to make a decision. At the end of the day, your ideals arenâ€™t what matter; what matters is what you actually did. Despair Despair arises because we only have power to change things that are within our power to changeâ€”and there is a lot we cannot change. Reality is impartial and out of your control, except for small aspects of it here and there. We despair because we can never have full control of the future. What Will Happen Will Happen Tomorrow, after my death, some men may decide to set up Fascism, and the others may be cowardly and muddled enough to let them do it. Fascism will then be the human reality, so much the worse for us. Regardless of what is right or wrong, good or bad, and regardless of whether these are absolutes or not, â€œthings will be as man will have decided they are to be.â€ What will happen will happen and humanity will be entirely responsible for what it does. Does this mean we ought to become passively accepting of what will happen? Sartre says the exact opposite. Does that mean that I should abandon myself to quietism? No. [â€¦] Quietism is the attitude of people who say, â€œLet others do what I canâ€™t do.â€ The doctrine I am presenting is the very opposite of quietism, since it declares, â€œThere is no reality except in action.â€ Moreover, it goes further, since it adds, â€œMan is nothing else than his plan; he exists only to the extent that he fulfills himself; he is therefore nothing else than the ensemble of his acts, nothing else than his life. No Excuses This is why existentialism horrifies some people. It puts such a burden of responsibility squarely on their shoulders. They canâ€™t stand to think they were at fault for not being a great or successful person, for having no great friendships or love. They think they are the victim of circumstances; they havenâ€™t had the proper education, leisure, or incentives; they havenâ€™t found the right person yet; they havenâ€™t had the opportunity to show their greatness. Sartre, however, says that â€œThe coward makes himself cowardly, the hero makes himself heroic.â€ The artist is an artist because of the works of art he created, not because of what he could have created. The mathematician is famous for the math he did, not what he maybe could have done. We find that this is â€œa harsh thought to someone whose life hasnâ€™t been a success.â€ We are responsible for our successes and failures. But at the same time, this harshness forces us to face the incredibly important fact that: Reality alone is what counts. Sartre sees these views not as a pessimism, but as an â€œoptimistic toughness.â€ Optimistic in that we are the rulers of our lives; our destiny is within our hands; we are encouraged to take action. Sartre summarizes his idea of optimism and action in the following passage. Thus, I think we have answered a number of the charges concerning existentialism. You see that it can not be taken for a philosophy of quietism, since it defines man in terms of action; nor for a pessimistic description of manâ€”there is no doctrine more optimistic, since manâ€™s destiny is within himself; nor for an attempt to discourage man from acting, since it tells him that the only hope is in his acting and that action is the only thing that enables a man to live. Is Choice Arbitrary? Sartre ends this piece with a further defence of subjectivism, in which I wish he had gone into a little more detail. He says people are still not satisfied with the idea of subjectivism, and objections usually come in one of the following forms: 1. â€œWell then, youâ€™re able to do anything, no matter what! Youâ€™re promoting anarchy!â€ But this isnâ€™t the point. It is not possible to not choose. In not making a choice you are still choosing not to choose. Choice is inescapable; we are â€œcondemned to be freeâ€ because we are human, whether or not we are existentialists. 2. â€œYou canâ€™t pass judgement on others, because thereâ€™s no reason to prefer one idea to another!â€ We can still hold values, and values appear out of the choices we make. Through our actions (as an individual and as a group), we create ethics. 3. â€œEverything about your choice is arbitrary!â€ We define ourselves through our actions, â€œin relationship to involvement.â€ And as we make ourselvesâ€”as we make choicesâ€”it is absurd to say we are choosing arbitrarily.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.