On Panic and Hoax in “The Star”

“But you must not imagine because I have spoken of people praying though the night and people going aboard ships and people fleeing toward mountainous country that the whole world was already in a terror because of the star.  As a matter of fact, use and wont still ruled the world, and save for the talk of idle moments and the splendor of the night, nine human beings out of ten were still busy at their common occupations. …The presses of the newspapers roared through the night , and many a priest of this church and that would not open his holy building to further what he considered a foolish panic.”  (45)

The quote I chose is from H.G. Well’s The Star, specifically this section because it shows how human beings react in panic situations.  In time of panic, people usually react in two different ways: classify it as a hoax or extreme fear.  In the case of The Star, most of the people continued their daily activities in the time of the impending “star” colliding with the Earth.  These people considered this fear of the others to be unnecessary,  and merely a hoax by others; some even consider the “star” to be quite beautiful, being an illuminating streak  in the night sky.  Others, though not as many, reacted in the ways of hysteria, where they tried to find safe areas of the planet.  Some even sought help in a higher power: God.  They seemed to believe it was the end of all things.  These situations are reminiscent of modern times in the cases of terror and war (such as multiple cases during the Cold War): some widespread panic, others go about their daily lives.


Wells, H.G. “The Star.” The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction. Ed. Arthur B. Evans, Istvan              Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., Joan Gordon, Veronica Hollinger, Rob Latham, and Carol                              McGuirk. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2010. 40-49. Print.

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