In the sound of thunder Ray Bradbury uses science fiction to convey a fable-like story of man and its exploitation of technology. Likewise H. G. Wells uses science fiction to portray a moral story of mans own ignorance and failure to understand the power of a gift. Though both stories have a clear moral they are presented differently due to the era they were written in. The Man Who Could Work Miracles was written at the end of the nineteenth century, a time of wealth and great advancements in technology, people were optimistic of the forthcoming century and advances in science; hence the moral of the story- don’t abuse power of a gift.
Whereas The Sound of Thunder was written in 1952, post world war two; hence the moral -don’t abuse technology- linking in with the devastating effects of the Atomic Bomb at the end of WW2. Ray Bradbury uses the character of Eckels; he is foolish, irresponsible and selfish; his character shows the stereotypical bad traits of human beings thus conveying the moral feel of the story (it could be you). Travis, in contrast to eckels is knowledgeable in the science behind the time machine and therefore is more responsible and acts as a forbearer of warning to which eckels pays no heed.
The contrast of these two characters works as a good vs. evil theme; such is present throughout science fiction; in true science fiction style the story ends with the triumph of good over evil – Travis shooting Eckels for the damage he is responsible for. Through Eckels stereotypical character the reader is shown how they themse...
lves should refrain from acting. Travis’ character acts as a retributive force, perhaps conveying the feelings and personal morals of the writer. H. G. Wells uses the character of Mr. Fothringay to convey his fable.
He is described at first to be a man of devilish characteristics “… erect red hair, moustache with ends that he twisted up… ” and therefore gives the reader a sense of danger to come. As it turns out Fotheringay is addicted to assertive argument, much like eckels addiction to hunting; through this addiction he uncovers his gift. Though he now possesses the gift he is ignorant of its power; to light a candle he asks for a match; when clearly his gift is powerful enough to light the candle itself.
Fotheringay seeks maydig’s (a priests) advice; seeing the power of his gift maydig exploits fotheringay for his own personal gains. Again like The Sound Of Thunder there is the good vs. evil element with the ignorance of fotheringay and his mistrust in maydig. Like in the sound of thunder the moral is conveyed through mans pursuit of his ambitions this links into the moral/fable style of the stories. Both stories are presented in the third person.
Ray Bradbury conveys his feelings and the overall moral of the story through the speech and actions/reactions of the characters “we don’t belong here in the past” through this conveying the potentially devastating weapon time travel can be. On the other hand Wells uses authorial voice, bridging the distanced third person “It was evident…
” to show his opinions. I feel that Ray Bradbury’s use of the characters speech to convey the moral gives more impact and is more effective because it allows the reader to analyse the story without authorial intervention and therefore adds further meaning to the moral.
Both writers use Godlike Imagery and metaphors in their stories. As a running theme throughout the sound of thunder the title is quoted at important moments of impact. “Sound Of Thunder” giving a godlike imagery (Thunder-God) is used to describe the fearsome T-Rex and again at the end to represent the retribution of Eckels. Likewise Wells uses godlike phrases “Let me be in bed” a deliberate take on “let there be light” thus giving the image of Fotheringay as playing god; linking back to the godlike ambiguity of the stories title.
The imagery of God is particularly effective due to its importance and meaning; enforcing the sci-fi style moral of the story. In describing the T-Rex Ray Bradbury spares no detail in describing its “watchmakers claws… teeth like daggers” and “death grin” and through this describing of the “Thunder Lizard” emphasises the T-Rex as an important turning point in the plot; Eckels’ cowardly breakdown. Subsequently Wells uses melodrama and ambiguity “It is doubtful whether the gift was innate” giving the sci-fi feel of mystery of the unknown.
He uses direct links to religion through the mistrust of maydig and the misuse of gods gift of miracles. With the arrival of Darwinism in the 1850’s writers were being more analytical of religion and this is shown in The Man Who Could Work Miracles. Both stories convey the philosophical meaning that time is an unstoppable force and therefore should be treated with much regard. Ray Bradbury shows this through his portrayal of the time machine of a potentially devastating weapon, of equal power to that of an A-Bomb.
This is Shown through the time machines power to determine the outcome of the war; the change of president Keith to Deutscher; German name and dictator like description work as a parody of Hitler winning the war. This ties in with the post war era the story was written in. Likewise Wells’ moral meaning is conveyed through the theme of time as an unstoppable force, Fotheringay attempting to stop the movement of the earth with catastrophic outcomes. Both stories show how power whether in a gift or technology when used without responsibility and regard is potentially dangerous.
Ray Bradbury uses the science fiction style plight of good against evil and the use of an adventure like plot alongside the scientific theory of evolution and travelling backwards in time to give detailed and supportive groundwork for his moral story. Similarly Wells also uses an adventurous plot and scientific data, though rather theoretical to present his story. Would everyone really fly in the air at nine miles a second if the world stopped spinning? As equally unlikely as it is that humans would invent time travel just so they could go back and shoot dinosaurs.
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