In The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, which line of dialogue best shows how the traveler feels about what has happened to him?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, the time traveler, who is never named, wants to tell his friends about his extraordinary journey through time. As a scientist, he has always believed that time and space exist within a realm that is often speculated on and written about but never fully explored or proven. He intends to do just that because "time is only a kind of Space." From his scale model, his friends are fascinated, if not skeptical, about his plans. One comments "... are you perfectly serious? Or is this a trick – like that ghost you showed us last Christmas?" However, the following week when they gather for their usual dinner, the time traveler, their host, arrives late and begins to recount his story with a stark warning that the future holds potential but also great danger.

The apparent paradise which he has witnessed turns out to be a disappointing and devastating vision of what mankind could become without compassion, drive or purpose. The Eloi are weak, and although they are at peace, they are victims of the Morlocks and are nothing more than a sub species which is preserved by the Morlocks as a source of food. However, the story is so far-fetched that the time traveler's guests do not recognize the story as a warning that it is within their power to make a difference, and no amount of drama and potential for disaster can motivate them to change. Even the time traveler momentarily wonders whether he has really had this experience and the question of the "feeble prettiness" of the Eloi and "absolute permanency" or change becomes relative and applicable only in the time and space within which it exists, whether that is in the past, present or future.

It is because the time traveler recognizes the impact of mankind on his own future that he keeps searching for that destructive element and becomes increasingly immersed in solving the mystery of something that he cannot quite understand, that "abominable desolation." He muses as to what it is that is causing "the life of the old earth (to) ebb away." He ponders the Milky Way, the changed landscape and the cooler sun but ultimately, it is "the silence" that affects him. "All the sounds of man... that make(s) the background of our lives – all that was over" (chapter 14 in eNotes version). He manages to recover from this overwhelming realization just sufficiently to return to his own time.