Prose study -The Time Machine by HG Wells

As part of my English literature coursework, I am going to analyse H. G wells novel ‘The Time Machine. I shall be focusing on chapter 12 of the play and explaining how this chapter is the climax of the narrative. I will also be considering how Wells creates suspense. Herbert George Wells was born on 21st November 1866 in Bromley, Kent. His father, a shopkeeper and cricketer and his mother a housekeeper. However Wells developed a love for literature at a very young age and used to study books in the library secretly.

Wells obtained a scholarship and studied biology at the normal school of science. He left however without a degree and in 1891 married his cousin Isabel. From 1893, Wells became a full time writer. Wells was a novelist, journalist, sociologist and historian but is best known for works such as ‘The invisible man’, ‘war of the worlds’ and in 1895, ‘the time machine’. The time machine is basically about the English class division of his time as well as a warning that human progress is not inevitable.

The novel is set in the time it was written, as H.

G Wells wrote this story to demonstrate the social issues of his time. The story is narrated by Hillyer who is present at the time travellers’ home along with several of the time traveller’s friends. These people are frequently identified by their professions rather than their names. The room consists of a provincial mayor, a medical man, a sociologist and a journalist. All of these people have professional careers; they have recognition in society due to their professions.

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This instantly shows us the class division of the time, as no non-professional person is present in the gathering.

Meaning that the public is given little or no importance in informing them of such a scientific breakthrough. The time traveller’s theories are that any real body has four dimensions rather than three. These are, breadth, length, thickness and also duration. The first three are known as planes and the fourth as time. He also believed that like we can draw 3D on 2D, we should also be able to do 3D on 4D. Working on this theory, the time traveller has found a way of moving through time using a time machine.

As well as this the time traveller also has theories on evolution that in the future the capitalist has “evolved” into the Eloi (peaceful but weak humans) and the labourers have “evolved” into the morlocks (aggressive ape-like people). However as the story progresses, he begins to rethink this theory and decides that the Eloi are the capitalists but have adapted to the life of the labourers. As they seem to have no control over their surroundings. He also thinks that the morlocks are in fact the labourers but have begun living the lives of capitalists, as they seem to be having total control.

The balance of power has shifted entirely, causing confusion in. Again, Wells has clearly expressed his views on the social issues of his time. He is saying that the capitalists (morlocks) feed on the labourers (Eloi). This at present seems confusing but is later understood as the story continues. Naturally, some of the guests of the time traveller seem a little sceptical of the idea that man can travel through time, (yet they still admitted that there was such thing as the fourth dimension) and that rich, noble people would in the future become vicious human flesh eating people.

Therefore the time traveller’s account of the future seems to be a bit of a joke, a kind of fantasy. So, to answer this puzzle that is in both the guests and readers minds, he backs his theory using scientific evidence. In fact Darwin’s and the Fabians theories were the basis of the time traveller’s very own. Darwin believed that everything was evolved from one thing or the other, for example, that human’s ancestors were apes and monkeys. Similarly the time traveller has a theory on the labourers and the capitalist evolving into the morlocks and the Eloi.

At first, Darwin’s theory was abandoned and people stuck to what was said in the bible. However, in Wells’ time the theory of evolution was gradually being accepted. The time traveller believes that through time, the social class division has gone to such an extreme that two different species have evolved, the morlocks and the Eloi. He also declares that this division is ongoing but is a lot more visible in the future, however the Eloi are unaware of it. This point is supported by the Fabians society. This society recognised the mistreatment of labourers and the inequalities of capitalism.

Wells too joined this society and so is giving his opinions on the class struggle of the 1900’s via the time traveller. Despite all this, Hillyer (the narrator) was most hesitant to reject the time traveller’s claims. Seen as though the book is demonstrating the class struggle, the book is based upon two forms of human: Eloi -the Eloi have several interesting characteristics that the time traveller talks about, including their appearance and way of living: “Fragile… and very sweet” -this shows that the Eloi are peaceful yet weak. So sleep together to avoid being eaten by the morlocks.

Due to such statements, the time traveller thought that the Eloi descended from the Labourers rather than the morlocks. “These people of the remote future were strict vegetarians”. -This again shows the simplicity of the Eloi; they only eat what is available, unlike the morlocks who go hunting for food (the Elois). “I felt like a school teacher amidst children” -the time traveller is comparing the behaviour of the Eloi to children. He is stating that the Eloi’s attention span is that of a child, and that they don’t seem to be interested in him for too long.

The Eloi therefore have evolved from the Capitalists of the 19th century, rather than the Labourers. The time traveller realises this as he notices the Eloi’s simple mindedness and the fact that they are pleasant but weak humans, so have not the mind s to form some sort of self-defence. The second types of species are the morlocks -these are predatory humans who have developed to live in the dark. Consequently they seem to be afraid of the light as the time traveller says, “I lit a match, and, looking down I saw a small, white moving creature with large bright eyes which regarded me steadfastly as it retreated”.

The time traveller first thought these were nocturnal animals but later finds out the truth. With his first encounter with a morlocks, the time traveller describes it as “a queer little ape-like figure, its head held down in a peculiar manner. ” He further describes the morlocks, “… dull white, and had strange large greyish eyes”. The morlocks also had flaxen hair on their head and their backs which is why the time traveller later says “it was so like a human spider! ” they also appeared to hold their forearms very low which made them look as if they were walking on all fours.

With this brief encounter with the morlocks, the time traveller instantly begins to think up of a theory as to what these species were. At first, he thought they were some kind of nocturnal animals, as they possessed all the characteristics of one (used to the dark, large eyes). Except later he accepts that the morlocks like the Eloi, are human. After this does the truth dawn onto him that future human had divided into two species and that the morlocks were the people of the year 802,701 that lived underground.

The upper class of Well’s time had if any, very limited respect for the labourers class. And due to this class division, the time traveller presumes that the morlocks are the direct descendants of the labourers of the 19th century. As he says, ” even now, does not an east-end worker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the earth? ” here the time traveller is discussing the similarities between the labourers of the 19th century and the morlocks of the 26th.

As the story progresses, the time traveller discovers that at night, the morlocks eat the Eloi and so don’t always stay underground. Here we are shown a real contrast between the species. The Eloi, calm and rather child like who live simply and are rather unaware of their surroundings. On the other hand are the morlocks, vicious, carnivorous species who aren’t exactly what they seem. With this in mind, the time traveller begins to rethink his theory and now decides that that the Eloi are in fact the capitalists, unaware of what lies ahead… hether they’ll still survive or not. Furthermore the morlocks are actually the labourers, knowing what lies ahead of them. They appear to be innocent in front of the Eloi, but in actual fact they secretly conquer the underworld and roam the top of the world by night. Once again, Wells has clearly projected his ideas via the time traveller but also, has hinted the moral of the story. Wells is stating how unfair capitalism is in his time and what it would lead into if it were not stopped. Focusing on chapter twelve

Chapter twelve, ‘in the darkness’, is clearly the climax of the narrative. This is partly due to what happened prior to this chapter. Particularly in chapter eleven, when the time traveller takes Weena (one of the Eloi’s) to the palace of green porcelain. Here the time traveller amazingly discovers items of use, a box of matches, some camphor and an iron crow bar. “And at last in one of the really airtight cases, I found a box of matches, the were perfectly good. They were not even damp… and then by the merest accident I discovered, in an airtight case, two dynamite cartridges! I think this is too much of a coincident that a box of matches has been preserved for six centuries and are in fully working order. Therefore I think wells has places these things on purpose in the palace, so that the audience are given a clear indication of what dangers lye ahead of Weena and the time traveller. Wells has created suspense before the beginning of chapter twelve; this also assists in chapter 12 being the climax of the story. Chapter twelve has three stages of suspense, the beginning, the middle when the woods is set on fire and the end when Weena disappears.

This structure not only helps make the chapter more understandable, but also gradually builds up suspense as we read on. Therefore this technique adds to the reader’s pleasure. In the beginning, everything seems to be calm and normal, nothing is going wrong. Having learned the morlocks weakness, the time traveller prepares himself by gathering wood and grass in order to start a fire and repel the morlocks. But when he recalls the incident that happened once going in the woods, the time traveller regrets going in, “I was to discover the atrocious folly of this proceeding”.

Once entering the woods, the time traveller and Weena realise that they are being followed by the morlocks. “While we hesitated, among the black bushes behind us, and dim against their blackness, I saw three crouching figures. ” So the time traveller lit a match to scare away the morlocks. Later, he and Weena fell asleep whilst the fire was lit, but somehow the fire had gone out and the morlocks had taken the matchbox and Weena. He finds his iron crowbar, and fights off the Morlocks currently attacking him, and then finds that the forest is burning.

He makes it to the summit of a hill and watches the Morlocks’ total confusion as a result of the fire… “And now I was to see the most weird and horrible thing, I think, of all that I beheld in that future age. ” He then decides that Weena is lost forever, and so he continues on to the Sphinx. This incident creates tension on the outcome of the play, the audience is kept guessing as to whether the time traveller will make it or not, or will he also be captured by the morlocks? In the third stage, Wells uses emotive language to display the time traveller’s feelings at the loss of Weena.

The Time Traveller reaches a new emotional low after losing Weena, and the error of his choices are again painfully clear to him by the end of the night. The value of his relationship with Weena also becomes more evident after she is gone. The Time Traveller mentions his loneliness and thoughts of the present company (who are listening to his story) and his longing to see them. The Time Traveller makes clear that although in most ways Weena is far from similar to humans from his day, her feelings for him were very human, in the most important similarity there could be. I felt the intensest wretchedness for the horrible death of little Weena. It seemed an overwhelming calamity. ” The time traveller is an extremely powerfully written novel. Wells ideas of the state of his own civilization are distinct. He is trying to say that the capitalists of his time are like the morlocks. The capitalists are perhaps like scavengers, hungry for the flesh of labourers. He is also presenting his opinion on the unequal division of the classes. Like the morlocks and the Eloi, the capitalists and the labourers are two different species.

The Eloi can once be compared to the 19th century capitalists, that they too enjoy the riches of the upper world. But in fact the situation is quite the opposite. The morlocks only let the Eloi live so that they can later eat them. Similarly, in Wells opinion, the capitalists only let the labourers live so that they can get work out of them. Wells message is simple; this extreme class division should end. An audience of the 21st century would react differently to the audience of the 19th century regarding the story.

This is because now, the industrial revolution has almost entirely disappeared, resulting in hardly any labourers. Even so, these few labourers are treated with dignity and with respect, unlike in the time of H. G Wells. Another reason would be that the class divisions of the modern day are not so extreme as they were before. This novel is once again extremely well written and the moral is easily understood. However, in my opinion, this novel is aimed at an older audience rather than a teenage one. This is due to the language and grammar used in the book.

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Prose study -The Time Machine by HG Wells. (2017, Nov 01). Retrieved from

Prose study -The Time Machine by HG Wells
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