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'More a book about Victorian society than that of the future', is this a fair reflection of 'The Time Machine'?

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Introduction

'More a book about Victorian society than that of the future', is this a fair reflection of 'The Time Machine'? `"Long ago I had a vague inkling of a machine...that shall travel indifferently in any direction of Space and Time, as the driver determines." Filby contented himself with laughter. ''But I have experimental verification," said the Time Traveller. ` Wells was born into British poverty to a working class family: father a gardener, shopkeeper and cricketer; mother a maid and housekeeper. However, his quick mind and good memory enabled him to pass subject exams and win scholarship to what is now the honoured Royal College of Science where he studied under the respected Darwinist, T.H. Huxley. The Victorian social hierarchy was very specific; the divide between the aristocracy and proletariat being much more distinct than of our contemporary society. Rapid growth in technology, education, and capital had launched the Industrial Revolution in the 17th and 18th- centuries, and by the late 19th-century England was a leading force in the new economy: while industrialists celebrated in their supreme wealth, masses of men, women, and young children toiled long hours for meagre wages in dirty, smoke-filled factories. ...read more.

Middle

On the contrary, those who failed were naturally inferior specimens of humanity. Wells spots holes in this argument and indicates the effects on human evolution if capitalism continues unimpeded: mankind will effectively split into two distinct species, the ruling class that are the Eloi - in them; he mocks Victorian dissolution - and the working class that are the Morlocks, in whom he provides a potentially Marxist critique of capitalism. Irony is crucial to the understanding of 'The Time Machine'; the great irony is the realisation of the future when the Time Traveller journeys to the year 802,701 AD. The Victorian audience enjoyed the spirit of adventure but would have found this nightmarish dystopia disturbing in some respect. Although at landing it appears to be a utopia with a Garden of Eden feel the White Sphinx 'imparted an unpleasant suggestion of diseases.' The Time Traveller ponders the possibility that man 'had developed into something inhuman, unsympathetic, and overwhelmingly powerful.' Ironically, however, he notices 'slight creature(s) - perhaps four feet high', which wear 'purple tunic(s), girdled at the waist with a leather belt' and 'Sandals or buskins'; an image of Roman such attire. ...read more.

Conclusion

While the Time Traveller considers this turning of the tables merely an act of survival, to Wells it may have meant more. Schooled in Marxism, he may have seen in the origins of the Morlocks' revolution what is known in Communism as 'class consciousness'; the working class sees itself as oppressed--it becomes conscious of its class--and bonds together to overthrow the ruling class. And this is actually what happened in Russia during the Great War with the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917: 'social difference between the Capitalist and the Labourer was the key to the whole position.' The quote at the start of this essay is quite significant: 'The Time Machine glitters with the same surface irony as "The Stolen Bacillus". But below the surface are depths of gloom and cruel despair.' The book had numerous science elements to it but these were '(Wells') fireworks (which) hid the murky background from (his contemporaries') eyes.' And hence the theme of appearance and reality is relatively significant. The The tale of 802,701 is political observation of late Victorian England. This narrative serves as a symbol aiding a discussion of socialism and its principles of equality. Wells suggests to his Victorian audience that current society change its ways, lest it end up like the Eloi, petrified of a revolutionary race of Morlocks. ...read more.

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