The following example essay on “The Time Machine” is an analysis of a novel by HG Wells. The work reveals the plot and images of the main characters of a science fiction work that describes the world of the future, to which the Time Traveler is sent.
At the beginning of the time traveller What we first notice about the Time Traveller’s character is his intelligence: – ` “You must follow me carefully. I shall have to controvert one or two ideas that are almost universally accepted.
” ‘ These are his first words in the book. From the beginning, Wells straight away cleverly exemplifies his confidence, arrogance and intelligence in his speech, the three main components of his character. His confidence comes from this intelligence of which an example is: – ` “I intend to explore time. Is that clear? I was never more serious in my life.
His confidence in his high intelligence results in him being extremely arrogant on occasions: -` “But the problems of the world had to be mastered.
” ‘ There may be a connection between that of the Time Traveller’s character and that of. Kunno in “The Machine Stops”. It is possible that Wells may have used the idea of the reader thinking that the character is proud and arrogant, before realising there is more to him. Although the books were published in the late Victorian and early Edwardian, Wells may have used the basic outline of Kunnos character for the Time Traveller.
Right through the book, the Time Traveller’s attitude is that he feels superior to anyone else: his guests, the Eloi and the Morlocks.
Several times he describes the Eloi as “children”, both physically and in terms of intelligence. On one occasion he describes himself as ` “like a schoolmaster among children” ‘, despite the fact that the Eloi are teaching him their language. This is also an example of irony, as they are teaching him, not him teaching them. However, the Time Traveller’s feeling of superiority fails to make him realise the ironic side of what he thinks.
The Time Traveller feels that he is more intelligent and knowledgeable than his guests. In discussions with his guests he oozes confidence, helping him to put points forward, and speaks adding emphasis to certain phrases, by pausing, for example. An example of this is: – ` “Scientific People,” proceeded the Time Traveller, after the pause required for the proper assimilation of this… ‘ In the meetings between him and his guests, he is always the person always putting the points forward and deciding where the conversation goes: – ` “Can an instantaneous cube exist? ‘
Also, the Time Traveller always makes his guests subservient in the arguments, which again aids him in putting his points forward. Whenever one of his guests tries to challenge his dominance, the Time Traveller says something to put them back into their more subsidiary position in the discussion. An example of this is: – `… said the Medical Man… “May I have them? ” (referring to flowers). `The Time Traveller hesitated. Then suddenly: “Certainly not. ” ‘ This again reminds us of his confidence and attitude towards his guests.
On several occasions the Time Traveller sees examples of the Morlocks’ ntelligence (their machinery, their attempts to trap him in both the forest and the pedestal) but does not take it in, because of his arrogance. Therefore, he never learns from his mistakes, and so repeats them. For example, when he goes into the dark wood inadequately armed, and nearly gets killed, he does not learn from this. T
herefore, when he goes into the pedestal, a perfect place to become trapped in, and he only has a couple of matches, and nothing with which to light them. “I was in the dark – trapped. So the Morlocks thought. At that I chuckled gleefully… But I had overlooked ne thing. The matches were of the abominable kind that only light on the box. ” ‘ On that occasion, it is also ironic that the Time Traveller ` “… could not help but laugh bitterly at (his) confidence. ” ‘ On the following page he becomes over-confident once more. In several places in the book, the Time Traveller is over-confident and under-prepared, not just with the Morlocks.
He never properly thought through what it would be like if the Time Machine worked. Despite the fact that he is meant to be an intelligent and logically thinking scientist, he never even considered what he should bring to e prepared for example, if the machine were to work. Therefore, it is ironic when he wishes that he had brought a camera with him, when he has travelled into the future. When he is ready to go, he has panicky, second thoughts – ` “I suppose a suicide who holds a pistol to his skull feels pretty much the same wonder at what will come next… ‘ So for all his intelligence, confidence and knowledge, the Time Traveller lacks much common sense. He is therefore arrogant, over-confident and under-prepared going into new situations.
This makes it difficult to sympathise with him when things start to go wrong. It is easy to see that the Time Traveller is intelligent, but he can become irritatingly smart. For example: ` “… I had a score of noun substantives at least at my command; and then I got onto demonstrative pronouns, and even the verb `to eat’. ” ‘ ` “My museum hypothesis was confirmed. ‘
This is pretentious; and it is probable that the reader is led to dislike the Time Traveller; so that when he gets into tricky situations, the reader is not meant to feel too much towards him. It is only halfway through he book that the reader can start sympathising with the Time Traveller. This is when more of his haracter is revealed; underneath the confidence and arrogance is a more agreeable side. Here he admits that he feels for Weena; and when she is gone, he is depressed. However, despite the fact that he likes her; she is described by him as physically `frail’ and `like a child.
Also, intellectually, he treats her with disdain, and talks of her in a condescending manner, saying things such as ` “I thought, rather foolishly that Weena might help me to interpret this. ” ‘ Although Wells has cleverly brought in the caring side of the Time Traveller’s character gradually, he has made the Time Traveller rrogant, over-confident and egotistical throughout the book. One of the best examples of this, after the other caring side of his character has properly been introduced, is when he goes into the wood. He believed at the time, that building a fire was ` “… n ingenious move for covering (his) retreat. ”
‘ Relying upon being able to light a fire is not the best protection, especially as several hundred Morlocks surrounded them at the time. It is also ironic when the Time Traveller laughs at the fire he has made, and walks away further into the wood, and further away from the little protection that he has. These examples show us that despite more of his character being revealed so that the reader can sympathise with him, he is still arrogant and over-confident, not realising what dangerous positions he is in.
When Weena `dies’ the Time Traveller realises he likes her, and his affection for her is more openly indicated. For example: – ` “… (her death) seemed an overwhelming calamity. ” ‘ His relationship with her previously had grown very gradually. When he saved her from drowning, in his usual condescending and intransigent way, he assumed that was it, and that there would be no proper friendship.
Treating he Eloi race with his normal disdain, the Time Traveller expected that he would never be thanked for saving her, as he says: – ` “I had got to such a low estimation of her kind that I did not expect any gratitude from her. ‘ This reminds us again of his arrogance. The last example in the book of his affection for her is: – ` “But my story slips away from me as I speak of her. ” ‘ This shows, in a comment to his guests, that he is still thinking of her in an affectionate manner when she is gone. The two examples of his thoughts on their friendship (one at the beginning, one after Weena has gone), shows how much the friendship ad developed. Despite the two very different sides of his character, there are events that occur to link them.
When the Time Traveller fights the Morlocks in the forest, and they are ` “blinded by the raging fire,” ‘ he is clearly enjoying the ` “succulent giving of flesh under (his) blows,” ‘ while in ` “a frenzy of fear. ” ‘ The Time Traveller might want revenge for whatever has happened to Weena, but still lacks common sense, and ` “not realising their blindness,” ‘ he ` “struck furiously at them. ” ‘ Although he instantly regrets this, which is, again, quite ironic. Furthermore, the different sides of his haracter can be linked when he is in the Palace of Green Porcelain.
There he describes Weena as quite unintelligent, but two pages later, he almost praises her for making him realise that the floor sloped down underground towards the Morlocks. Here the Time Traveller treats the Eloi’s intelligence with his usual disdain and condescension, but praises Weena, an Eloi, indicating that he likes her. The Time Traveller is not a very sympathetic character, but it is possible to sympathise with him. I believe it is definitely Wells’ intention to make the reader change his or her view about the Time
Traveller, and to become more sympathetic towards him. Throughout the book, the Time Traveller is arrogant, over-confident and lacks common sense. Until his relationship with Weena begins, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to gain the reader’s sympathy. There are some subtle remarks made by the Time Traveller about his relationship with her, but he does not consciously realise that he likes her until her disappearance. Only then he actually realises her affection for her. Due to his continued arrogance, however, it is not possible to sympathise a great deal with him.