What do you think that Wells is trying to tell us about society in The Time Machine and how do I expand upon it, with quotes?I'm providing much literary analysis of the text.  I understand that...

What do you think that Wells is trying to tell us about society in The Time Machine and how do I expand upon it, with quotes?

I'm providing much literary analysis of the text.  I understand that the Time Traveller was saying that society was becoming more decadent and that in the future humans will lose the ability to provide for and protect ourselves.  How do I expand on these thoughts of Wells', and what are some good suggestions for quotes from the text that indicate attitudes towards society?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

H. G. Wells is basically pessimistic, and what he writes in The Time Machine is pessimistic. He was involved in socialism and joined the socialist group, The Fabian Society. He explored Marxism, even traveling to Russia to meet with Stalin and Lenin. He was a thoroughgoing Darwinian, being trained by evolutionist T. H. Huxley at the the Normal School of Science in London. Among his great concerns, which reflected his interest in and passion for history, was social class conflict as he witnessed it during the industrial revolution as workers from rural areas entered cities, creating a stark contrast between the wealthy and the poor, the privileged and the downtrodden.

One option for expanding your research is to use historical criticism and incorporate any of these elements of Wells' biography and ideology into your textual analysis. You can take this critical approach because it is quite clear from Wells' life that his intent was to expound on these ideas, these concerns, in his fiction, including The Time Machine. For instance, when he traveled to the United States to meet President F. D. Roosevelt, they discussed the future implication of what Wells wrote in The Time Machine.

'Clearly,' the Time Traveller proceeded, 'any real body must have extension in four directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and—Duration. ... There are really four dimensions, three which we call the three planes of Space, and a fourth, Time.'

One other way to expand upon your research is to explore another of Wells' passions, that of incorporating scientific debate into contemporary literature, as illustrated by the above quote. One of Wells' interests was whether the scientific revelations of the nineteenth century would advance society any in the most material ways: social class equality, advancement of social unification, economic equality, advancement of social class benefits. The conclusion he reaches in The Time Machine is that the application of science as he was then witnessing it would lead to humanity's deterioration--this would be followed by the annihilation of the planet as the Sun died, a great red giant. Wells constructs the conclusion of the story to emphasize the parallel and symbolic metaphor between the deterioration of humanity and the demise of the red giant Sun and, along with it, Earth: with wrongly understood and applied science, all will be destroyed.

The little brutes were close upon me. One touched me. ... Then came one hand upon me and then another. Then I had simply to fight against their persistent fingers .... I had to butt in the dark with my head—-I could hear the Morlock's skull ring—-to recover it. (Chapter X)

... drawn on by the mystery of the earth's fate, watching with a strange fascination the sun grow larger and duller in the westward sky, ... the huge red-hot dome of the sun had come to obscure nearly a tenth part of the darkling heavens. ... A bitter cold assailed me. ... but the main expanse of that salt ocean, all bloody under the eternal sunset, was still unfrozen. (Chapter XI)

Read the study guide:
The Time Machine

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question