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What is HG Wells trying to achieve with his novel the Time Machine

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Sometime called the “Father of science fiction”, Herbert George Wells was born on September 21, 1866 in Bromley, Kent, England. His father, a professional cricketer player and shopkeeper, and his mother, a former lady’s maid, raised Wells with the idea that he would find a place in the work world that they were accustomed. He aspired a different place in society. When he was thirteen, he left school to become a draper’s apprentice; a job his family expected would be proper for a boy of his station. This work repelled him however and after trying out various other jobs he finally found a job as a teacher’s assistant in a grammar school.

Education and academia suited him well. In 1884 he entered college with a scholarship to study biology. He was able to study under one of the great biology teachers of the time, Thomas Henry Huxley, and Wells graduated in 1888. A writer called Jules Verne influenced much of Well’s work. Science fiction at that time was another form of literature used as a type of escapism and it was also a transport for criticism of contemporary society. Verne had been called ‘Father of modern science fiction’ because he described so many things that had been created shortly afterwards such as the aeroplane or submarine.

During his life, Wells wrote short stories, mainstream fiction and non-fiction essays. Most of them were based on his view of society in his day and what is to come. Much of Well’s social consciousness most likely resulted from his childhood and early adult life. Each of the four novels he wrote dealt with fantastic storylines that involved scientific processes, or new scientific understanding at that time. He was extremely interested in the supernatural and various forms of science fiction. He also wrote several sociological novels and some non-fiction works, including a book called The Shape Of Things to Come, which he wrote in 1933.

The Time Machine was Well’s first real success as a book. The Time Machine was a response to the literature used by Verne. The book begins in the late 19th Century, specifically, in the Time Traveller’s home in Richmond, which is a borough on the River Thames in London. The novel opens with an after-dinner conversation at the Time Traveller’s house. The Time Traveller explains to his guests the concept of time as a 4th dimension, that except for a “natural infirmity of the flesh, ” people normally overlook. His guests are dismissive of his idea that the 4th dimension can be travelled just as the other three are.

He then shows them a small working model of the time machine and it disappears as it travels off in time. The guests are amazed but still think they have been tricked and don’t believe that time travel is possible. Then Wells introduces the Victorian scientist time traveller. The Time Traveller appears to be a well-read and intelligent man. Well’s language makes the reader believe that the time traveller was a man of observation and interest. He does appear to be versed in the theories of his day. He does not reveal his name, but uses a creative and descriptive way to comment on his personality and appearance.

Wells is aiming to make the time traveller a slightly mysterious character. Well’s describes the time traveller in some detail, but it still seems hard to visualise his appearance. ‘His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face was flushed and animated’. When you start reading this book you can immediately tell that the style and language used is different from any other book you have read before. You can see that Wells is writing in a way that is strange compared to what you are used to reading. He seems to hold back on certain points when they are actually quite relevant leaving the reader in a state of confusion.

As you can tell by the short passage above explaining the appearance of the Time Traveller. He seems to concentrate more on the characters feeling then their appearance showing that their appearance in this part of the book is not really necessary. In the first chapter of the book, Wells’ main target is to introduce the characters. The Narrator is present throughout and is the only character that gives any recognition to the time traveller’s claims. He appears to be seriously considering the chance of time travel. He seems to create a scenario of the world today.

On one hand you have the people who believe in the concept (the time traveller), you have people who refuse to accept the idea (Filby), and you also have the people who wish to question both points of view (psychologist). Wells, I believe, tries to create a world situation in many of the events in the book. For example, when the time traveller goes to the very distant future, he discovers two types of descendants. One is the Eloi race, which are a small human like civilisation, leading lives of splendid idleness. They are peaceful but weak and lethargic people who populate the surface of the earth in the distant future.

The other group is the Morlock race, which live in the tunnels beneath the new Eden. The Morlocks are the main antagonists in the story. The Morlock creatures feed on the Eloi people, and rebel against their fellow race. The Morlocks may be seen as the lower class citizens rising up against the higher-class which are the Eloi. Also, the word ‘Eloi’ is used by St. Mark, which means ‘my God’. This could resemble the Eloi as Gods and upper class peoples. There is one physical setting for the entire story, but there are three temporal settings that are used over the course of the novel. The most important setting is in the distant future.

I love the way Wells describes the appearance of the Morlock race in the book. He says: ‘Queer little ape-like figures, their heads held down in a peculiar manner. Now I think that this is great use of language. This gives the readers a strange idea of the creature’s looks. Using this technique, wells makes the Morlocks more like lower class peoples or maybe even workers in the time of the Russian Revolution. This whole scenario between Eloi and Morlocks seems to be somehow related to the situation in Russia in the early 1900s and also of the late 19th Century (the time Wells lived in).

The Morlocks are actually the descendants of the working class of the late 19th century, and continue to labour, running and operating huge machines deep in the earth. What Wells was trying to do when he wrote the Time Machine, was to tell to the public of the late 19th century that if they do not stop what they are doing, this is what the future holds for mankind. In the Time Machine, many things are trying to be achieved. H. G. Wells is attempting to make a story in the future but making a scenario from past times and his time. The book makes people ask many questions. It launched Wells’ literary career.

In his wording and story he uses very complicated words that seem to be ignored today, such as ‘fecundity’, ‘incandescent’ and ‘recondite’, all of which are used in the first couple of sentences of the book. It struck me when I began reading that I was dealing with a different type of writer. Some people may just say the book is a fantastical yarn or a dream. Wells creates more than that. He does this by backing up his claims, such as creating a plan for a time machine. The book was written in 1895, which is over a century ago. . He is trying to achieve a non-ending list of questions that we end up asking.

Maybe this is because he wants people of society to think about the concept of time travel in more depth. People make up their own theories, just as Wells has done in this book. The Time Machine has two major themes. The first is that capitalism is dangerous and harmful to the workers (the Morlocks) and it is evident from the connection made out right from the Time Traveller that if life goes on like it did, it will be the fate of the world. The other theme is that mankind will continue to progress no matter what and improvements in society and cultures are a given thing.

Wells had many ideas or visions himself about the concept of time travel. H. G Wells’ literacy techniques had little or nothing in common with those of Jules Verne. When reading the book, people accepted the time machine as a literary device to give a form of probability. The book, the time machine is a fantasy. Wells tries to create that idea He was curious to know why things were like what they were. The Time Machine is a superb novel written with varied vocabulary and seems to leave Wells confused and he seems to be saying. Our World will be destroyed if we do not act in order to save it.

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