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The Time Machine

by H. G. Wells

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What is the climax of the novel The Time Machine?

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At the climax of The Time Machine, the Time Traveler accidentally launches his Time Machine into the extreme distant future of Earth. Before this, he has landed in a distant enough time, when the human race has evolved into two separate races – the Eloi of the Upperworld and the Morlocks of the Underworld. The Eloi are tame and peaceful but also mentally stunted, like unintelligent children. The Morlocks are craftier, but they are vicious monsters who can only exist in the dark and at night. They look “nauseatingly inhuman,” with “pale, chinless faces and great, lidless, pinkish-grey eyes.” They have stolen the Time Traveler’s time machine, but he finally manages to find it and escape. The Morlocks attack him as he seats himself in his machine, and he is fighting them in the dark while he starts it up. The result is an unexpected trip:

I was not seated properly in the saddle, but sideways and in an unstable fashion. For an indefinite time I clung to the machine as it swayed and vibrated, quite unheeding how I went, and when I brought myself to look at the dials again I was amazed to find where I had arrived. One dial records days, and another thousands of days, another millions of days, and another thousands of millions. Now, instead of reversing the levers, I had pulled them over so as to go forward with them, and when I came to look at these indicators I found that the thousands hand was sweeping round as fast as the seconds hand of a watch—into futurity.

The Time Traveler arrives on an Earth so far in the future that it is dying under a blood-red sun and inhabited only by gigantic, hungry black crabs, who chase huge white butterflies who scream in terror as they flutter about. The moon has vanished; the stars themselves “have given place to creeping points of light.” All that is left is encroaching darkness as the sun itself perishes in the sky.

All the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep, the cries of birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background of our lives—all that was over.

Horrified, the Time Traveler climbs back into his time machine and returns to the present—that is, to his original time era. As the walls of his laboratory appear around him, he slows down his machine and returns home. He washes and dries himself after his incredible journey and joins his friends for dinner, when he tells them his tale. He soon vanishes into time once more, and after three years, his friends wonder where—and when—he is, and if he will ever return again.

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