Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel thousands of years into the future? “The Time Machine” is a dystopian novel written by H.G. Wells in 1949. Set in the late 1800s, it follows the adventure of a time-travelling scientist who travels over 800,000 years to the future where he finds that humans seem to have split into two races; the Eloi and the Murlocks. At first glance, society of the future seems carefree and peaceful, but the Time Traveller soon finds out that there is a dark side under this seemingly beautiful world.
Out of all of the books in the Dystopia thematic group, “The Time Machine” became my favorite because of the authors incredibly detailed writing, the use of a frame narrative style, and the author’s shocking yet realistic hypothesis of the future world if we continue developing the same way we are now.
One of the reasons why I really enjoyed this book is because of the style it was written in, which is a frame narrative.
This type of story is basically a “story within a story”. In this case, the story starts by being narrated by an unnamed character describing what happened at the Time Traveler’s weekly dinner parties and then when the Time Traveller begins to tell the guests about his travel in time, he becomes the new narrator and the reader reads about his time in the future. When he finishes the story the unnamed character becomes the narrator again and the story ends where it began.
This style of writing is interesting because it gives the reader a chance to understand a story from multiple perspectives. The beginning and end of the book narrated by the unnamed character from the dinner party serves as the background, or “frame” for the main story told by the Time Traveler. Without these parts it would have been hard to understand the reasons why the Time Traveler was motivated to take his journey in the first place.
Another reason that this book is my favorite is the extreme detail that H.G Wells used when describing the characters actions. For example, “… knitting his brows, he lapsed into an introspective state, his lips moving as one who repeats mystic words. ‘Yes, I think I see it now,’ he said after sometime, brightening in a quite transitory manner.” (Wells, 3) By using such descriptive language and detail, the author allowed the reader to mentally visualize the scene and really feel how the characters were feeling, and to feel like they are inside the story itself. He could have said something like, ‘“Yes, I think I see it now,’ he said after a moment of confusion.” While this sentence also informs the reader that the man didn’t understand something, only the former allows the reader to see a face displaying a specific expression and relate to emotions. Wells really took the phrase “show, don’t tell,” to heart and made sure that the reader would stay continually engaged with the story.
Lastly, I thought the author’s imaginative but frighteningly realistic hypothesis of human natural selection was very interesting, and taught a valuable lesson. “… I understood now what all the beauty of the Over-world people covered… Like the cattle, they knew of no enemies and provided against no needs. And their end was the same.” (Wells, 86) With the Eloi, Wells portrayed how the rich, upper class people had developed into a weak and submissive race who lived in suspicious comfort. The Murlocks were what the working class, poor people had become, primitive things that lived below ground, supporting the Eloi with food and clothing while in turn feasting on Eloi at night. Since the Eloi lived in continuous peace, they never learned how to deal with danger and conflict and their minds never developed important instincts. The lesson learned here is that if social classes continue to evolve similar to the way we are now, a spoiled and idle upper class and a downtrodden lower class, the future consequences will be grave.
“The Time Machine” is a fantastic story that combines a great stylistic choice in the form of a frame narrative, amazingly descriptive detail and an author’s interesting point of view on how humans might continue to evolve that teaches an important lesson. All of these things make this book the significant story it is, but another amazing thing about this book is that it has all of this in just over one hundred pages. This book is a quick read that will keep you engaged and make you not want to put it down. In conclusion, “The Time Machine” is an important piece of literature that is a must read for all.