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A psychoanalytic examination of The Time Machine

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 591
  • Category: time

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After the Time Traveller has finished telling his story to his friends, he asks the question “is it all only a dream? “, The Time Traveller senses that they do not believe him after responding with negative reactions, “The Editor stood up with a sigh. ‘What a pity it is you’re not a writer of stories! ” This causes him to start questioning his own story, “Did I ever make a Time Machine, or a model of a Time Machine? ” He claims that his memory can’t cope with having so much in it, “This room and you and the atmosphere of everyday is too much for my memory.

The use of anaphora in this sentence shows how panicked the Time Traveller is at this point in the novel and that he is very bewildered, he is now opposed to believe his own story. Sigmund Freud was alive from 1856-1939. He developed his own ideas about the interpretation of dreams; Freud believed that there are three parts to our “self”: The id; the part of us that wants things – where all our desires live, The ego; the part that works out how to get what we want, And the superego; the part that decides whether we should get what we want.

Freud theorised that our unconscious desires, which he thought were mainly sexual, come through in our dreams. He called this The Interpretation of Dreams and suggested that in dreams, objects represent other meanings – these are known as Freudian Symbols. Freud’s theory may have been known to HG Wells. Carl Gustav Jung lived from 1875-1961. Jung began as a disciple of Freud but later their theories differed. Jung believed that the psyche contained two related figures: the ego and the shadow.

The ego is your sense of purpose and identity, your conscious mind. The shadow is your “dark side”, characterised by animal qualities which the ego wishes to hide from others. In The Time Machine, Wells creates the world of the Morlocks and the Eloi, based on his ideas of human and social evolution. In this future world, the long term effects of an exaggerated class structure become apparent, in which the exploitation of the working class produces a race of Morlocks, while years of self indulgence and dependence lead to the degradation of the Eloi.

The Time Traveller’s theory that the Morlocks and the Eloi have developed from the human race means that his psyche can be split between the two races. His ego is represented by the Eloi, and his shadow is represented by the Morlocks. In the novel, the Time Traveller allies himself with the Eloi against the Morlocks, so against himself. However, it is suggested in The Time Machine that the Time Traveller is perhaps more like the Morlocks himself, showing that his feelings towards himself are dislike and hatred. In The Time Machine, HG Wells attempts to understand what will become of human beings in the distant future.

By making the central character of his story the Time Traveller, Wells is able to explore many themes that obsessed him, including class inequality, evolution and the relationship between science and society. These views are often expressed by the Time Traveller, suggesting that he could be a mouthpiece for HG Wells; perhaps this is the reason for the Time Traveller never being named throughout the novel. In describing the future world of the exhausted Eloi and the cannibalistic Morlocks and the world beyond in which all human life is non-existent, Wells illustrates what he believes may be the fate of humanity.

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