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The Time Machine

by H. G. Wells

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In "The Time Machine", who is the "argumentative person with red hair?"

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In Chapter One of The Time Machine, we meet Filby who is described as an "argumentative person with red hair." Filby is one of six other men present at an informal meeting at which the Time Traveller presents his plans for time travel and unveils his prototype time machine.

The mood at this meeting is one of scepticism and Filby is the first to voice it. When the Time Traveller asks the group to dispel their ideas about geometry, for example, Filby replies: "Is not that rather a large thing to expect us to begin upon?"

Furthermore, when the Time Traveller presents his argument in favour of time travel, Filby immediately jumps in: "It's against reason!" He makes it very clear to the Time Traveller that no matter what he says, he will never convince Filby:

"You can show black is white by argument,' said Filby, 'but you will never convince me." 

After this blatant show of disbelief, Filby resorts to mocking the Time Traveller by laughing at his ideas and likening his scientific concepts to a "conjuror he had seen at Burslem."

Filby's scepticism continues when the Time Traveller unveils his prototype. That Filby sits behind the Time Traveller during the unveiling is perhaps significant: that Filby represents the self-doubt which we all inherently possess and which often shows itself in times of importance. But, while Filby is clearly impressed by the device (he says he'll be damned), he does not want to accept that this device might actually work. We see this in the closing line of the chapter, when Filby "winks" at the narrator.

Filby's attitude, then, is one of outright scepticism. He does not want to believe anything that is not generally accepted by the scientific establishment and, when confronted with new ideas, he is unwilling to accept them. It is interesting to note that Filby is absent from the meeting in which the Time Traveller returns from the future and relates all that he has seen. 

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