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The Time Machine

by H. G. Wells

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Student Question

What are H. G. Wells' attitudes towards technology in The Time Machine?

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The attitude that H. G. Wells displays towards technology in The Time Machine is somewhat ambiguous. On the one hand, he acknowledges the vital role that technology plays in opening up new intellectual horizons and making the world a better place in which to live. At the same time, he suggests that there's a limit to technological development, and that, beyond a certain point, the human race will degenerate in a post-technological world.

If we want to find out what a world without technology is like, we need look no further than the Eloi. They lead lives of ease and dissipation, spending most of their time sleeping and eating fruit. At first, the Eloi are presented as leading an idyllic life, one without the need for any kind of technology. But they only live such a life because they were able to exploit the Morlocks for so long. Wells appears to argue that technology can be divisive, its obvious benefits not shared by all. This is Wells as socialist: technology can all too often be used by the dominant classes to keep the poor and downtrodden in their place.

To be sure, Wells is no Luddite; he doesn't want to turn the clock back to some golden pre-technological age. But he doesn't want to see such an age return in the future, which is exactly what he thinks will happen if technology is allowed to go on developing, at the present rate. His overriding fear is that human beings will end up being divided into mutually antagonistic classes like the Eloi and the Morlocks, living in a dystopian world of conflict and turmoil, without progress and no further scope for intellectual growth and development.

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