The Time Traveller uses science in constructing his machine, but H. G. Wells builds the character on the paradox that he is more philosophical than practical, and lacks confidence in technology’s positive influence on humanity society. From his own position of privilege and leisure, he has developed a rather romantic outlook, hoping to find a Utopia that lacks the rigid hierarchy of his own time and the related extremes of wealth and poverty.
The Traveller’s simplest objective is “to explore time.” He wants—and fully expects—to prove his theories about time as an equivalent, fourth dimension. The combination of optimism and fear behind his quest are evident from—as he later describes to his guests—his first observations when he set off into the future:
What strange developments of humanity, what wonderful advances upon our rudimentary civilisation, I thought, might not appear….”
After he stops, he struggles to process the sights. His thoughts turn gloomy in regard to the future people, as he wonders if they have become creatures of cruel passion, or even so “inhuman” that they might abhor and attack him.
What if …the race had lost its manliness, and had developed into something inhuman, unsympathetic, and overwhelmingly powerful? I might seem some old-world savage animal, only the more dreadful and disgusting for our common likeness—a foul creature to be incontinently slain.
When he first meets the creature of the future, he tells his guests, that such regression was not what he had actually expected them; rather, he assumed they would be very far advanced:
You see, I had always anticipated that the people of the year Eight Hundred and Two Thousand odd would be incredibly in front of us in knowledge, art, everything.