Ms. Gokturk

Trends in Literature

The Time Machine Essay


DUE: _________


YOUR TASK: Write a well developed double spaced essay that uses text based evidence to support your thesis.

·        You should be sure to include reference and analysis to literary terms/devices (theme, characterization, setting, symbolism, juxtaposition, etc.) as it applies to your analysis.

·        The title of your essay should reveal the thesis of your essay.

·        Write in the present tense.

·        Be sure to state assertions, back them with evidence, and then make the connection to the greater theme(s) or Time Traveller’s theory.

·        Note that you must cite and use proper punctuation with quoting: Ex. He says, “I felt like a school master amidst children, and persisted, and presently I had a score of noun substantives at least at my command” (45). 


You will submit your essay to [800-1000 words]



·        Theme Analysis Essay. What is Wells’ theme? Choose a specific controlling idea to prove with evidence from the novel.

o       Social Criticism/Class Inequality. Analyze how the Time Traveller’s contemporary world seeds the future. Consider how the novel serves as a warning to his age and/or how he views communism.

o       Devolution.  Analyze how the Eloi and Morlocks have evolved into each dehumanized species. You might consider how man peaked and declined.

o       Entropy. Analyze how the future runs out of energy, much like the riddle of the sphinx illustrates. Consider using the riddle as a template for your essay.

o       Humanity & Civilization. Analyze what the Time Traveller values as being good/bad.

o       Choose your own theme! Think outside the box!

·        Write a multi-genre essay. Choose one or more of the short stories we read in the course thus far. Develop a controlling idea that allows you to compare and contrast The Time Machine with the story/stories. Be sure to devote equal time to each work.

·        Critical Lens. “The purpose of the writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” – Bernard Malamud. Use this quote, or find one within the novel, or use the sphinx riddle,  or find another one you prefer as your critical lens to analyze the novel. Be sure to provide your own interpretation of the quote and how it applies to the novel. This is your thesis statement, not the quote! [In fact, you can toss the quote after your interpret it!]



Miserable Fate: The Decline of Man in The Time Machine

            Longevity. Eternal life. Forever. Man dreams of immortality, if not for the individual then at least for his bloodline and way of life. H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, however, paints a bleak future; Wells uses the vehicle of time travel to reveal man’s dismal future, where nothing remains: not a recognizable human bloodline, nor civilization.

            The theme of decay is immediately introduced in the setting of the distant future of 802,701. Although the Time Traveller initially believes he has found a utopia or garden of Eden where “a tangled waste of beautiful bushes and flowers, a long-neglected and yet weedless garden” (43), he quickly wonders about the maintenance of the “weedless garden” which appears neglected. The “tangle waste” indicates that vegetation has evolved to this beautiful mess, but the lack of human interference poses a conundrum. This is further reinforced when the Time Traveller arrives to the building in which the Eloi live in. He notices the dilapidated condition of the building and says, “I did not observe the carving very narrowly, though I fancied I saw suggestions of old Phoenician decoration as I passed through, and it struck me that they were very badly broken and weather-worn” (43).  The Time Traveler initially assumes that the future would be advanced, which he verifies by the type of structure, but close examination reveals the building was uncared for.  The Phoenicians he mentions were masters of their time, which represents the past greatness that now has faded into the past.  Decay and corrosion of the future world become more apparent as he finds “a seat of some yellow metal that [he] did not recognize, corroded in places with a kind of pinkish rust half smothered in soft moss, the arm-rests cast and filed into the resemblance of griffins’ heads” (47).  Mankind, it seems to him, has ceased caring for their world. 

            If this were not disappointing enough, the Time Traveller sees that mankind itself has atrophied. The Eloi people he first encounters are brainless creatures, the result of evolution. They have limited attention spans, like undeveloped children. He says, “They would come to me with eager cries of astonishment, like children, but like children they would soon stop examining me and wander away after some other toy” (45).  This remnant sample of future man is a great disappointment to the adventurer. Naturally inquisitive himself, he can fathom a people with so little curiosity. The Time Traveller consequently  feels superior. He says, “I felt like a school master amidst children, and persisted, and presently I had a score of noun substantives at least at my command” (45).  The Traveller had hoped to learn from the future but finds himself savvier than the child-like people.




Utopia or Dystopia? The Future in Well’s The Time Machine

The human race has always had an interest in striving for more and achieving the next step. However, when the Time Traveller, an eccentric scientist in Victorian England, travels to the future, he is shocked to find mankind in decline. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells, explores the possibilities of a society that has reached its peak and has nowhere to go but down. At first glance, the world seems to be paradise; however, upon closer inspection, its dystopic qualities emerge. Wells uses several aspects of the futuristic world to demonstrate this: the setting; the Eloi, the human-like creatures that inhabit the world, and the Morlocks, the underground human race.

            The Time Traveller, coming from the turn of the 20th century, reaches his destination at 802,701 A.D. The world of the future appears to be paradise. Lush gardens overflow with beautiful flowers. “… my general impression of the world I saw over their heads was a tangled waste of beautiful bushes and flowers, a long-neglected and yet weedless garden” (43). The Time Traveler is awestruck that although the gardens are rarely tended to, they remain bountiful. The world has reached a point where the things humans needed to do in the past, such as care for a garden, have been eliminated through time and evolution. Although there are no modern buildings, he comes across the ruins from the past. He views the ruins with both rejoicing and sadness. He is happy to find some trace of advanced architecture in this utopic garden, but is disappointed to see the degradation of such intricate constructions.

Upon landing, the Time Traveller was eagerly greeted by several small creatures. The four-feet-tall human-like people welcomed his arrival without apprehension. The Time Traveller compares their actions and intelligence to those of a five-year-old child. They live without responsibility, as all their food and clothing is prepared by an unknown source. However, this lack of stress and care is not because they are self-fulfilled blissful creatures, but because they are unaware of their surroundings. Just as the ruins represent the degeneration of technology, they also symbolize the Eloi’s intellectual devolution. Without diversity, class struggle has been eliminated and everyone is equal. Although this might seem like a wonderful goal for a society to achieve, it proves to be the opposite. Their society seems to be communistic in its social equality. They look, act and live similarly, with no discrimination or hatred, but rather indifference. Enmity had been eliminated along with classes, but the Eloi’s thirst for knowledge had vanished, too. Without self-interest or the need for improvement, their society took a turn for the worse.