H. G. Wells

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Character Analysis of the Bacteriologist and the Anarchist in "The Stolen Bacillus" by H. G. Wells

Summary:

In "The Stolen Bacillus," the Bacteriologist is portrayed as intelligent but somewhat absent-minded and overly trusting, focused on his scientific work. The Anarchist, on the other hand, is depicted as cunning, determined, and fanatical, seeking to use the bacterium for his own destructive purposes. Their contrasting characteristics drive the plot and highlight themes of scientific responsibility and the misuse of knowledge.

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In "The Stolen Bacillus," how does H. G. Wells contrast the Bacteriologist and the Anarchist?

I think one way that the narrator contrasts the Anarchist and the Bacteriologist is by focusing quite a bit on the Anarchist's physical traits. We are told repeatedly that the Anarchist is pale-faced. A bit later we get a great sentence that talks about his hair color and some other physical traits.

The lank black hair and deep grey eyes, the haggard expression and nervous manner, the fitful yet keen interest of his visitor were a novel change from the phlegmatic deliberations of the ordinary scientific worker with whom the Bacteriologist chiefly associated.

The black hair has to stand out against such a pale face, but the overall image being created seems to be one of a sickly looking individual. We don't get this kind of narration about the Bacteriologist. We hear him talk and can listen to some of his thoughts, but he really doesn't get a physical image until he starts running after the Anarchist. Once that happens, the narration tends to focus on how silly the scientist looks.

The Bacteriologist, hatless, and in his carpet slippers, was running and gesticulating wildly towards this group. One slipper came off, but he did not wait for it.

The two men are similar in that they are smart enough to recognize the potential threat and danger of small biological microbes to the world. They are both fascinated with the power of such a small organism.

"Once start him at the water supply, and before we could ring him in, and catch him again, he would have decimated the metropolis."

Unfortunately, the scientist is naive about it. He can imagine the destruction, but he can't fathom somebody actually wanting to do it.

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In "The Stolen Bacillus," how does H. G. Wells contrast the Bacteriologist and the Anarchist?

In "The Stolen Bacillus," Wells contrasts the characters of the Bacteriologist and the Anarchist through their attitudes towards the bacteria in the laboratory. For the Bacteriologist, for instance, the cholera bacteria are dangerous and bring nothing but death and destruction to society:

Here he would take the husband from the wife, here the child from its mother, here the statesman from his duty, and here the toiler from his trouble. 

In contrast, the Anarchist views the cholera bacteria with wonder and amazement. When he first sees it, for example, his eyes are filled with "morbid pleasure" and there is a "gleam of satisfaction" in his face. 

While their characters seem very different, however, both men are keen to impress and "astonish" those around them. The Bacteriologist does this by pretending that his blue bacteria is, in fact, "bottled cholera" while the Anarchist concocts a plan to steal the cholera from the laboratory so that he can poison the city's water supply and achieve infamy.

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What are the similarities in the nature of the bacteriologist and the anarchist in the story 'The Stolen Bacillus' by H.G. Wells?

If there is a similarity between the two, it lies in their both living in a kind of rarefied world of their own design, cut off in some way from other people. The bacteriologist is the typical "absent-minded scientist" absorbed in his research. It is a cold, abstract pursuit in which he experiments on animals. Instead of contacting the police so that the anarchist can be apprehended, the researcher is more concerned about what a bother it will be to have to whip up a new batch of the strain that causes blue patches on monkeys and other animals.

One can hardly equate absent-mindedness and the pursuit of science to the anarchist's intention to engage in mass murder through germ warfare. But both men have a cold, calculating method about them. We are told nothing concrete about the anarchist's goals except that he wants to kill people in order to destroy the establishment—or perhaps to create a new system to replace it once the existing one is brought down through chaos and anarchy. Though the scientist's goals are usually benign, positive ones, he too wishes to change or remake the world through his discoveries, and therein lies the link between the two men in Wells's story.

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What are the similarities in the nature of the bacteriologist and the anarchist in the story 'The Stolen Bacillus' by H.G. Wells?

I feel that the greatest similarity between the bacteriologist and the anarchist in H.G. Wells's "The Stolen Bacillus" is the similarity in their opinions and attitudes toward science.  Specifically, both men seem to know and understand that scientific inquiry and work has incredibly powerful applications in the real world.  Both men know and understand what could happen if a virulent strain of some disease made its way into the general population of a large city.  

"And yet those little particles, those mere atomies, might multiply and devastate a city!"

Both men are in awe of the destructive power of something so microscopically small.  Both men also respect the dangerous little microbes that are being worked on in the lab.  Beyond that though, the similarities stop.  The bacteriologist admits that he would love to see all of the bacteria destroyed. 

"I wish, for my own part, we could kill and stain every one of them in the universe."

The anarchist, on the hand, would use the bacteria to destroy human populations.  

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Describe the Anarchist's character in "The Stolen Bacillus" by H. G. Wells.

At the beginning of the story the Anarchist is described repeatedly as "pale-faced," and also as "haggard," which suggests illness, tiredness or lifelessness. Only when he speaks of the deadly potential of the bacteria does he become animated, with "a gleam of satisfaction,' or with eyes that, metaphorically, "devour . . . the little tube" of said bacteria.

Later in the story, when the Anarchist has in his possession the deadly bacteria, his mood is described as "a singular mixture of fear and exultation." The Anarchist is afraid that he will be caught but excited at the possibility of infecting the city's water supply with the bacteria. Anyone who is "exulted" with the possibility of mass murder is clearly psychopathic. At this point in the story the reader might begin to wonder what has happened to this man to make him so intent on, and so excited about killing so many people. And then the Anarchist begins to think about other Anarchists "whose fame he had envied." This line implies that the Anarchist's primary motivation is simply fame.

As he gets closer to fulfilling his plan, the Anarchist's thoughts reveal a lot about his character. He imagines that "The world should hear of him at last," and he seems bitter and resentful that he has "always (been) treated as a man of no importance." He is clearly suffering from paranoid delusions of frustrated grandeur, and believes that "All the world had been in a conspiracy to keep him under." The Anarchist sees himself as enacting revenge upon the world that has ignored and undermined him. He will teach the world a lesson that he thinks it deserves to learn, namely "what it is to isolate a man."

Toward the end of the story the tube of bacteria cracks and the contents spill onto the Anarchist. At this point he decides that "I shall be a martyr" and he swallows what remains of the bacteria. The implication here is that he still believes in the justice of his cause, and he believes that it is a noble and honorable thing for him to die for that cause. Faced with his imminent death the Anarchist becomes defiant and proud, with "something tragic" about him, and with "a certain dignity."

At the end of the story, however, this dignity, and in fact the whole character of the Anarchist, becomes ridiculous and pathetic when the Bacteriologist reveals that the bacteria is actually relatively harmless, and will simply turn the Anarchist a particular shade of blue. The reader is thus left with a sense of satisfaction that the murderous, self-conceited Anarchist will soon experience a rather humiliating anti-climax.

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Describe the Anarchist's character in "The Stolen Bacillus" by H. G. Wells.

The Anarchist is one of the main characters in Wells' story "The Stolen Bacillus." From Wells' characterization, we see that the Anarchist is a deceitful person. He uses deception to gain access to the laboratory, for example, by forging a "letter of introduction."

Secondly, the Anarchist is also very proud of himself and his achievements. This is evident after he steals the bacillus and is musing on his plan:

"No Anarchist had ever approached this conception of his."

Finally, the Anarchist is the sort of person who is concerned with his reputation and personal legacy. He compares himself to other anarchists, for instance, like "Ravachol" and "Vaillant," and thinks that this plan will bring him fame, something which he evidently desires:

"The world should hear of him at last."

Moreover, for the Anarchist, the plan to steal the bacillus is also about proving a point to other people who may have doubted him in the past. He alludes to this idea after fleeing the scene of the crime, and this also goes some way in explaining the Anarchist's motivation:

"He would teach them yet what it is to isolate a man."

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