Analytical Essay on Machine Stops

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“The Machine Stops” Analytical Essay

Human beings are an intelligent and creative species; however is it possible that their own technologic creations can exceed their own levels of intelligence and creativity to such an extent that humans have no need to rely on doing everyday things manually? In the short story “The Machine Stops” by E.M Forster the conflict between the main characters Vashti and Kuno allow readers to explore the main idea that “humans are architects of their own destruction”. Forster does this by giving Kuno and Vashti opposing opinions on the way of life of the Machine through the use of dialogue, language techniques and an omnipresent narrator that capture both opposing views clearly, to effectively convey that “humans are architects of their own destruction.

In “The Machine Stops” by E.M Forster, many generations of human scientists spent years creating and perfecting a technology called the “Machine”. This machine bestows humans with the ability to do an everyday chore to something as simple as running a bath or turning on a light with the press of a button. Every human being has one room each in which they live alone and rarely have visitors since they can communicate via electronic blue plates where you can see and talk to somebody, much like webcams we have today. However every room is identical and all have a button for each thing that needs to be done. This is an amazing thing for one of the main characters Vashti. The importance of the Machine to her is shown through the quote “Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere — buttons to call for food for music, for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world” She represents majority of the human race that thoroughly depend on the existence of the machine to continue living. Vashti does everything by means of the Machine. She listens to music, teaches about music to others, and interacts with others by means of the machine. She does not go outside of her room which severely reduces human interaction. During some parts of the story we can see that Vashti is worshipping the machine; “Then, half ashamed, half joyful, she murmured ‘O Machine!’ and raised the volume to her lips. Thrice she kissed it, thrice inclined her head, thrice she felt the delirium of acquiescence. Her ritual performed, she turned to page 1367, which game the times of the departure of the air-ships from the island in the southern hemisphere.” This shows that Vashti thinks the book of the Machine as a guide of life and constantly performing this ritual in her times of fear further shows she looks to the Machine as it is God itself. The use of the capital ‘M’ in Machine throughout the story just as there as a capital ‘G’ for God and even a capital ‘H’ for Him in reference to God in the Bible indicates that Vashti thinks of the Machine as God. Vashti firmly believes that everything she needs is provided to her by the Machine and never imagines that life before the Machine was any better. When we worship our own creation, our infatuation with it can blind us to what may come if it fails and through this it becomes possible that man could in fact become “architects of their own destruction”.

Unlike Vashti, her son Kuno has his own broad understanding of what he would like life to be like, not how the Machine makes life to be. Kuno is the opposite of his mother. He believes that the Machine is an abomination and that it takes away all that is natural in life. Kuno tries to persuade his...
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