Do you consider the Anarchist in "The Stolen Bacillus" by H. G. Wells to be the victim of a prank?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Stolen Bacillus," the Anarchist is not the victim of a deliberate prank, in the traditional sense. In fact, the Bacteriologist has no idea that his visitor is an anarchist who intends to steal the bacillus for the purposes of poisoning the water supply. Instead, he thinks that the Anarchist is simply a curious visitor to his laboratory and the Bacteriologist has no knowledge of the man's real intentions. It is for this reason that he shows him the bacillus and, as a means of impressing him, he claims to have live cholera in his possession. This attempt at showing off quickly backfires, however, when the Anarchist takes the bacillus and disappears from the laboratory. The Bacteriologist then gives chase but only because creating the bacillus is a troublesome process, not because the Anarchist has taken live cholera. This is demonstrated by his comment at the end of the story:

But the bother is, I shall have all the trouble and expense of preparing some more.

In essence, then, the Anarchist is the victim of a misunderstanding as opposed to a deliberate prank.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial