I'm reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Please explain what the phrase "lilies of silver" means in the following sentence: "The fire burnt brightly, and the soft radiance of the incandescent lights in the lilies of silver caught the bubbles that flashed and passed in our glasses."
Is the author referring to pendant lamps? The paragraph containing the sentence describes a living room.
H.G. Wells (1866-1946) was well-known in his life, as well as after, for his science fiction stories, including The Time Machine. As avid readers of Wells are aware, however, the late author was more than just a writer of science fiction; he was also a left-leaning political activists who supported socialist causes and whose ideological inclinations were evident in his literary works. The Time Machine is one of Wells's more blatantly political stories, and the references to "lilies of silver," "a silver birch tree," and to other similar inanimate objects constructed of precious metals (silver was considerably more valuable back then than it is today) is a reflection of the author's indictment of the class distinctions that dominated the England of his and previous and subsequent eras and of the rigidity of that social system that condemned most lower-income families to lives of permanent economic destitution. Thus, when Wells's narrator describes the Time Traveller's descriptions of the opulence of the upper classes to which he has become witness by virtue of his time machine, it is intended to evoke negative perceptions of the divide between rich and poor. As the Time Traveller continues to illuminate the depth of these distinctions in the future he has witnessed, the novel transitions to what can best be called 'the Wells Manifesto,' with the rich cravenly exploited the poor and the latter condemned to lives of enforced servitude or, as the protagonist states, ". . .in the end, above ground you must have the Haves, pursuing pleasure and comfort and beauty, and below ground the Have-nots . . . ."