The Man Who Could Work Miracles Analysis

H. G. Wells

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Wells appears to have an almost innate ability for writing in the genre of fantasy fiction. He explained that in writing these stories, he would take almost anything as a starting point and let his thoughts play about that idea. Presently, some absurd little nucleus would provide the germ for a story, much as Samuel Taylor Coleridge dreamed “Kubla Khan.” In some of his stories, the bizarre, the weird, and the apocalyptic create the motif. In others, remote, mysterious worlds ruled by logical order, but not the order of common sanity, form the background and shape the events.

Wells is respected as an admirable storyteller as well as a sociological spectator. “The Man Who Could Work Miracles” is a wonderful example of both of his traits. In it, he artfully uses the apparently trivial items of fact and commonplace touches of formal style to create an incredibly humorous story with a serious underlying message. A binding of the commonplace to a fantastical event succeeds in convincing the reader of the possibility that such an event could occur. In returning full circle to its opening conversation, the story follows the form of its subtitle “A Pantoum in Prose,” which reinforces the possibility of the plot.

Wells develops the premise of the story without the interference of rational skepticism. Its appeal lies in the introduction of the fantastic into the mundane events of ordinary life and its focus on incident, not character.

The outstanding characteristic of Wells’s fantasies is that they are crammed full of ideas. They represent to an amazing degree the free and open play of imagination. His works provide easy and delightful reading, although they often have been labeled journalistic rather than disciplined. His style is not distinctive in a technical sense, and his ideas were often incompatible and self-contradictory; nevertheless, “The Man Who Could Work Miracles” is a genuine classic of fantasy.