What is the role of women in The Time Machine by H. G. Wells?
The Time Machine is a heavily male-dominated story which features only one female character, Weena. This is a striking detail and is, perhaps, indicative of Wells' belief that women did not belong in the study of time travel or, more generally, in science. It is possible, however, to glean some ideas about the role of women through understanding Weena and her portrayal in the story.
First of all, the manner of Weena and the Time Traveller's meeting is significant. In Chapter Five, for example, the Time Traveller comes across a "poor mite" who is drowning in the river. This is his first introduction to Weena, who he rescues and takes to shore. In this portrayal, Weena's role is that of the helpless woman in need of saving by a heroic male.
This theme is further reinforced as their relationship develops in the story. Weena becomes increasingly reliant on the Time Traveller as his desire to protect her from the Morlocks increases. In Chapter Seven, for instance, the Time Traveller decides that he will take Weena back to London where he can take care of her. Again, this example is important in creating the Time Traveller as a heroic figure while simultaneously portraying Weena as the fragile and dependent woman who cannot survive without the support and patronage of a male figure.
Weena never makes it to London. She is instead separated from the Time Traveller and killed by fire in Chapter Nine. This violent death raises an important point about the nature of relationships between men and women because it suggests that the latter cannot always be saved.