How does the society of the Eloi function in The Time Machine?

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Time Machine," H.G. Wells depicts the Eloi, who are the future of the aristocracy, as having grown ignorant from their life of ease. Wells is making a statement about the social classes in Britain in the late 19th century through the Morlocks and the Eloi. 

The aristocracy have turned into lazy, unemotional individuals with no intellectual curiosity, they do not explore their environment, they have no need for work.  They lack the understanding about their own survival, they are dependent like little children. 

The Eloi live in simplicity, with no advanced technology.  Below, the Morlocks have working machines and an intertwined mechanism that powers the system.

The Eloi are presented as being allowed to survive because the Morlocks, who represent the working class of the future who were forced underground and developed characteristics  that make them appear ape-like, are intelligent, innovative and manage to create an environment in which the Eloi thrive.

The Eloi don't have to work for their food, neither do they hunt or grow food.  The food is provided through the intervention of the Morlocks.  There is a suggestion in the book, that all the domestic animals are gone due to previous generations of Morlocks having eaten them all to extinction.  Once this food source was exhausted, the Morlocks started to look to the Eloi for their meat source. 

The Eloi do not fight, they don't resist capture.  It is clear in the novel that Wells pictures the future in a very grim way.      



teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wells attacks both the British class system and the Victorian notion of progress in his depiction of the degenerated Eloi of the far future. The Eloi are small, they are childlike, they do no work, and their buildings are falling apart. They are an apathetic people, lacking both initiative and curiosity.

At first, the Time Traveller believes the Eloi have evolved a communal, peaceful society that lives in harmony with nature. Then he discovers the Morlocks: apelike, brutal people who live underground and operate the machines that keep the society running. They are the working class, the laborers. But while it might seem they are being exploited for the benefit of the leisure class Eloi, we learn that the Morlocks have turned on the Eloi. Lacking other sources of food, they keep the Eloi as a food supply. They use the Eloi as livestock, in essence, eating them as they need to.

This society shows no progress or improvement over Victorian society. Wells, a socialist, is warning that progress is not inevitable and that maintaining too a rigid class system, such as Victorian England embraced, would lead to a dehumanizing outcome for humankind as a whole. 

troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Eloi are basically "cattle" for the Morlocks in this novel.  Humans over time haveevolved into two separate societies: the Eloi and the Morlocks.  The Eloi live carefree lives during the daylight hours.  They frolic and play all day, eating fruit and lounging around.  At night, they become terrified and sleep in large groups for security.  They represent what the human race used to be.  Over time, they became lazy and lost their curiosity and will to learn and grow.  Because of that change, they become the food for the Morlocks. 

The Morlocks are the hard working working class-types of the future.  They have evolved into underground "monsters."  They still have curiosity and work ethic.  However, over time, they ran out of food and were able to hunt down the Eloi for their source of meat.  So that is the role that the Eloi play in this novel.