The Stolen Bacillus Essay
The Stolen Bacillus
The Stolen Bacillus, written in the late 19th Century, gives readers a brief insight into all the changes that happened. This story focuses on the recent leaps in the newfound branch of science, bacteriology (invented by Louis Pasteur in the late 1860’s) Other great changes included mass industrialisation (a big change in how people lived) People started moving / living closer together, this is called urbanisation. People now worked in factories instead of farms. There were many problems due to this, examples being homelessness, increased crime, decreased hygiene and social injustice.
Not everyone was treated equally. The people with the most money had the most power; they were higher in society – like American Capitalism. Amongst these people were the Anarchists. Diseases brought about from people living densely caused large amounts of pain and suffering. Advances in medicine enabled cures for Tuberculosis and smallpox. However, advances in technology meant people had the ability to create weapons of huge destruction. Anarchists wanted this power. They are constantly against monarchy and a democratically elected leader.
They opted instead for a society based with no laws, where anarchy ruled. The story is about an anarchist who forges a letter to meet a bacteriologist, steals a test tube from his lab and aims to contaminate the water supply of London. The anarchist thought it was well-planned assault. The Anarchist was a ‘pale faced man’ with ‘a limp white hand’ and ‘lank black hair and deep grey eyes. ‘ The writer makes clear how he is a ghostly skeletal figure and his dark, insidious appearance would have created his isolation from society. His actions probably gave him his looks, reflected his personality.
To some extent Crooks is like this, but other people have slowly formed his appearance instead. However Crooks isn’t sinister, while the Anarchist is. He wants to look morbid, not because he is ill, but to scare people. Wells didn’t like anarchy, so he could be mocking them in his story by giving the anarchist a bad appearance. Both writers didn’t give these outsiders real names. We aren’t meant to identify with the Anarchist and be like him for he is portrayed as a murderous man (his age is irrelevant in the story, but is for Crooks, he could have also suffered from ageism, like Candy.
) Both are social outcasts, they can’t get on well with other people. Even though the Anarchist is a person, the writer could have made him a type of person because he could be related to other people. This is also apparent with Crooks, and probably other outsiders. While Crooks is defined as an old, black man, the Anarchist ‘was not a Teutonic type nor a common Latin one’ this idea of freedom between civilisations, or not fitting in means he would be hard to catch, hard to be recognised – much like a terrorist. This is why he is an outsider. His beliefs and ambitions make him this way.
The Anarchist hopes to contaminate London’s water supply with the lethal cholera virus. He could have bombed the place, but he says ‘These Anarchist – rascals… are fools, blind fools – to use bombs when this kind of thing is attainable. I think -‘ In other words, poisoning is a better idea, it only kills people, doesn’t ruin buildings. This way it would be harder to trace the culprit. This makes the story more thrilling, because it concentrates more on the villain, not what he does. The murderous nature of the Anarchist is supposed to make the reader think he is dangerous, and strong willed ‘I will be a martyr!
‘ He is willing to kill himself, as he believes so deeply in what he is doing. I do have some respect for his devotion, but he has clearly got a problem about himself. All he wants to do is kill lots of people – just to prove he isn’t a nobody ‘He would teach them yet what it is to isolate a man. ‘ His knowledge about science leads him to believe more or less anything the bacteriologist said. What he thought was ‘Asiatic Cholera’ was in fact a new species of bacterium, which causes blue patches to appear on various monkeys. So when he escapes out in the streets of London, the tube smashes by accident.
He panics and tries to get the last few drops in his mouth. Instead of spreading the lethal cholera – he runs around frantically, then turns blue. I think HG Wells wrote the Stolen Bacillus like he did, by turning the tables, and showing what ‘could’ happen to make the reader realise that one rebelling man could devastate a whole city overnight, with the aid of technology. Biological weapons today are so potent; it would take a lot of courage for a government to make use of them. HG Wells didn’t want to create panic and unrest either. He wanted to mock anarchists and the bacteriologists, by the use of comedy.
Maybe because Wells was a member of the Fabian Society (they planned a gradual system of reform to bring about a fairer society) He could have wrote the Stolen Bacillus as a warning about Anarchists – to show their evilness, who they are, their appearance and the things they do. From writing this story, Wells would have pointed out the problems in society thus perusing his own agenda; bring about equality and social reform without revolution. Steinbeck ensures that in ‘Of Mice and Men’ Crooks gets badly treated through the majority of the story. Crooks was made a weak character to emphasise this.
The Anarchist is able to fight back; people are bad to him, he is bad in return. Crooks is a victim and I think the writer conveys his thoughts through to the readers by the characters and the actions they take and receive, we should do something about it… not have prejudices. People are still racist today. Huge groups of people still do immoral things to blacks, one infamous group being the Ku Klux Klan. Racism and unjust society is a massive problem about America. The book contains many ideas based upon the faults and problems the ‘different’ people suffer like black people’s plight.
Crooks the supposedly free man is treated sub-humanly very much overworked. It has some quite gut-wrenching issues. Stories like this are best sellers because people can relate to characters in the story. The theme of the story is based upon a bible teaching ‘treat people how you want to be treated’ The law stated that white and black are equal, but blacks were still treated differently – segregated. Crooks owns a tattered old Californian Civil Codes book, he knows his rights, but other people didn’t obey them. On the ranch, things are harsher for him.
Both writer’s intentions were to bring about change by raising the reader’s awareness of the real problems in society; thus both writers were social reformists. HG Wells in the Fabian Society and John Steinbeck writing proletarian literature. If educated people read either of these two stories at the time of publication, they could use their ability to make changes in society with their power. The stories are almost propaganda, like in news or television as they make the reader believe truly in what it is about. A story to be effective had to convey something from the writer to the reader, the two stories did just this.
The writer’s goal was to make a difference by their story; Steinbeck and HG Wells both achieved this. To conclude both characters are outsiders, not for the same reasons, but for what they were. If they lived in modern society they would be treated more equally. If the anarchist were found to do bad things, he would be punished, or reformed. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 12 November 2017
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