The Time Machine by H.G. Wells Analysis Paper
“Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite,” – a rather bold quote by John Kenneth Galbraith to begin with, serves as a great taste into what H.G. Wells is trying to convey in his novel, The Time Machine. While Wells is not supporting communism in his book, throughout this science fiction novel, a main theme present is warning the reader of the dangers of capitalism. In this book the reader is taken on an adventure to different times in the distant future with the main character, the Time Traveller, to explore Wells’ standpoint on a probable outcome for capitalism. Along the way, the characters and plot begin to take a greater meaning than what they just sound like at face value. Wells is able to eloquently convey this theme of destructive capitalism through not only his use of symbolism, but also through characterization and the setting that he could experiment with due to his genre.
Characterization of the two main groups in this novel aid in the way Wells was able to express his theme. The first group were the Morlocks. They serve as the ape-like predators during the year of 802701. During this part of the story, they also serve as the antagonists. As stated by Tracy M. Caldwell in her Literary Criticism of The Time Machine, the Morlocks “represent the endpoint of a progressively restrictive oppression of the laboring classes, and industry itself is pushed underground, as buried as the guilt of enslaving an entire (white) sector of the population in England” (1). That ties in later more so to symbolism however, these character are a literary tool used to help express the one side of capitalism. The Morlocks are portrayed as carnivorous, inhumane, and aggressive beasts. Wells made their place of dwelling the hot underground depths of the earth to make them appear even more savage. These characters are generally considered the antagonists because they work as the predators in the relationship amongst them and the Eloi. They are hairy and ruthless, but it was made clear that they worked hard for what they have in life. As Wells wrote in this novel, “above ground you must have the Haves, pursuing pleasure and comfort and beauty, and below ground the Have-nots, the Workers getting continually adapted to the conditions of their labor” (Wells 69). The Have-nots are the less fortunate, yet vicious, Morlocks. This stated class divide creates the tension and situation necessary for a capitalistic society. More can be stated about this when it comes to symbolism, but the characterization that went with this group aided greatly in showing that capitalism can have its negative effects in the future.
Besides the Morlocks, Wells created the Elois, those who served as prey to the previously mentioned Morlocks. In the book, Wells described these people as playful, childish creatures that, unlike the Morlocks, had the privilege of living above ground in 802701. Through further description it was made evident that they lived up there unfairly, abusing the benefits of the capitalistic society. These people do nothing to deserve what they have in the book and come across as rather dumb and lethargic. While they may in fact be peaceful, beautiful individuals, they make it easy for the Morlocks to develop such a hatred and anger towards them. The conflict formed just through the characterization acts as an excellent preface into the class divide and its issues that are made clear in the novel. Observed by Wells’ character, the Time Traveller, “The Nemesis of the delicate ones was creeping apace. Ages ago, thousands of generation ago, man had thrust his brother man out of ease and the sunshine. And now the Brother was coming back changed” (Wells 72). In that instance Wells is directly referring to that of the two groups, and is stating that he can see the parallel between those of 802701 and of what was modern London during the late...
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