What is fascinating about the beginning of this book is the way that it commences with a philosophical debate about the nature of time and whether time travel is actually possible. Wells highlights the importance of this dinner party debate at the Time Traveller's house by ensuring that each major profession is represented, and that these characters are referred to not by name but by type. Thus the text refers to the Psychologist and the Medical Man, for example. The Time Traveller has deliberately drawn together an eclectic mix of people who represent each of the major strands of thoughts prevalent at the time in which Wells wrote the book. This is the audience of the Time Traveller as he declares his overall aim which he reveals when he shows his guests the life-size time machine:
‘Upon that machine,’ said the Time Traveller, holding the lamp aloft, ‘I intend to explore time. Is that plain? I was never more serious in my life.’
In Chapter One, therefore, the Time Traveller, who is himself identified only by his role and function rather than by a name, states his goal as journeying through time on the machine he created. Given the important revolutionary ideas that were dominating intellectual thought and discussion at the time of writing this book, such as evolution and Progress, such a goal allows the Time Traveller to challenge widely regarded truths such as whether society can really only improve as humans continue to develop in the future.