Socio-economic Issues in The Time Machine Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 3rd, 2019

Herbert George Wells, a prominent English writer, published his The Time Machine in 1895. At that time, the writer was 29 years old, and probably already had his outlook and ideas about the human race existence formed. During his student years, Wells studied biology and economics, and was making a research related to the theory of evolution (Hammond 15).

These spheres of interest determined the issues risen in the young man’s science fiction. The ideas expressed in The Time Machine were most likely inspired by Wells’ several months stay in Uppark, a XVII-century estate with preserved interior and traditions of the century, which created an illusion of a trip back in time (Hammond 6).

In addition, the writer’s ideas were influenced by works of Swift, Voltaire, Plato, and others. The Time Machine is one of the first science fiction works that appeal to traveling in time, and its socio-economic ideas are still a subject of interest even today.

The first major socio-economic issue discussed in the novella is the distribution of people into social classes. The Eloi and the Morlocks represent bourgeoisie and working class correspondingly in a rather satire and exaggerated way. Indeed, the Eloi do not work, nor are they busy with mental activities; their daily activities, as well as language and way of thinking, are rather primitive.

Moreover, Eloi are helpless without the Morlocks services. At the same time, in spite of the seeming dominance of the Eloi (they live on earth, while the Morlocks live and work underground; the Morlocks serve the Eloi, providing them with clothes), their actual hierarchy gradually switched during the evolution process, as the Morlocks hunt for the Eloi at night and eat them (Wells 36).

This is Wells’ way of showing that lack of initiative, work and determination can lead a ruling class to becoming helpless and totally depending on working class. At the same time, lack of education, intelligent work and cultural knowledge (daylight) in the working class can lead its representatives to exhausting and cruel existence, not much different from that of animals.

Undoubtedly, this issue is of great importance nowadays, when the policies of most countries do not fight, but even encourage social distribution into classes. In The Time Machine, Wells tries to convey a message that if the existing political system remains unchanged, the confrontation of social classes can gain a global scale, and the “elite” can become victims of their own system.

Another issue discussed in the novella is the industrialization and its potential outcomes for the humanity. The writer shows that even though the humanity had reached its ultimate development point, the results of industrial development made its life not any easier, but instead empty and meaningless.

While machines remained the central subject of the Morlocks’ living, the technical progress reduced the Eloi’s need for labor, which led to their loss of ability to analyze, think critically, plan their future and evolve. In other words, if machines do everything for people, the latter adapt to these changes and loose their essential skills, which are becoming needless because of the technological progress.

Taking into consideration the fact that Wells lived in the age of industrialization, the issue of technological progress has a rather narrow character in his novella. Nowadays the discussed problem would include the development of numerous robots and incredible innovative technologies; however, their impact on humanity can still be best illustrated by The Time Machine.

One more problem that Wells presents in his work is the change of social roles and values. The present-time value of family and the major role of any individual as of a family member are neglected. The future generations have no families, no feelings of love or empathy towards each other.

A bright example of total indifference and absence of support is the episode where no one from the Eloi had an intention to help Weena when she was drowning and when she needed someone’s hand (Wells 32). The Time Traveller’s help was accepted by Weena with amazement and surprise, as such relationships between people do not exist in the future.

The author has predicted the modern tendencies of changes in values; compared to the XIX century, when the novel was written, the modern concept of family has changed considerably.

Today many people prefer building their career to having a family; young people leave homes and often do not keep in touch with their parents, and the institute of marriage has lost its ultimate significance. Thus, the discussed issue is still topical nowadays, however its concept has changed with the tendencies of individualization.

In conclusion it can be said that in The Time Machine Wells covered the major social and economical problems and perspectives of the period when the novella was written. However, the issues discussed in the work are still a matter of concern for the modern generation. Obviously, Wells’ call for changes in political system, technical progress and social values failed to reach its receiver.

Works Cited

Hammond, Ray. H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine: A Reference Guide, NY: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004. Print.

Wells, Herbert George. The Time Machine, London: Penguin, 2005. Print.




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