A* GCSE level English Literature coursework - The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

How does H.G.Wells describe the future world and its inhabitants in “The Time Machine?”

The text in bold will give you pointers and advice as to what you should include in your essay, and why this will increase your marks! Remember, the higher your essay is graded, the easier it will be for you to get a higher mark overall!

Introduction

1. In the introduction, write a brief explanation of the topic of science fiction. This lets the exam marker know that you understand the subject you are writing about. Keep this part of the introduction brief, as this is not the main text that you are writing about. By writing this introduction, it will give you a natural platform on which to introduce the subject of your text, whether this is the time machine, or another science fiction novel. An example is below;

Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction, principally dealing with the impact of imagined science or technology, it is usually set in the past or in the future, or in complete contrast; a remote region if the universe. Many well known science fiction writers are alive today, and many have passed, leaving pages of many great tales. Some of the most well known writers include the French writer Jules Verne who wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Beneath the Sea, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and of course, The Time Machine by H.G.Wells. The main themes of science fiction usually involve alien creatures, time travel and the future world. Science fiction is also linked to advances in science, technology and human knowledge.

2. Give a brief profile of the author of the book. This may give you points later on, on which to explain why the author may have used specific characters or based a specifc part (or all) of the story on. This will most certainly show your understanding of the book and text and within.

H.G Wells was born in Britain in 1866 into poverty, on September 21st. He is best known for a string of books written at the beginning of his career that all toy with ideas of humanity gone both scientifically and fantastically wrong. He was not embarrased by his lower class beginnings, and in contrast he showed pride and later won a scholarship to what is know the elite royal college of science. His early inroduction to poverty would stay with him for the rest of his life. Being a socialist, Wells believed modern civilisation, with its established capitalist class divisions, was, and hopeless and that communist ideals were the answer.

Not of coincidence, his first real success was The Time Machine, which was published in 1895, when H.G.Wells was just twenty nine years of age.

Later he wrote other books, including The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898) and The First Men in the Moon (1901). Wells also wrote social novels and non-fiction works, including his Outline of History (1920) and The Shape of Things to Come (1933).

Describing the text

Now it is time to really demonstrate your understanding of the book by picking key points in the text.

The narrator, Mr. Hillyer, is the Time Traveller's dinner guest.

In chapter 3, the time traveller shows the audience that the time machine works. In that morning, he uses it to jump ahead over five hours and gives it a second run, watching the world around him as the advance in time continues to speed up. After a short while his laboratory disappears which he assumes is by destruction, though he still remains on the same hill in open air. He watches building and trees rise and fall, and soon, his pace rises to over one year for every minute of his life. As time passes he begins to look forward to seeing more of the developments in civilisation, his expectations propelled with the sights of great buildings and lush green environments. The machine finally comes to a stop and he is flung violently through the air and lands in a garden during a hailstorm. Thus, the time traveller has his first glimpse of the future world.

He sees a huge winged statue of white marble (which he later calls the White Sphinx) in the distance through the hail. After the hail stops, he looks at the statue and worries about what might have befallen mankind. As the sky clears he sees the future world properly, for the first time. He observes “vast shapes - huge building with intricate parapets and tall columns.” The sky is an intense blue of the summer and the environment altogether is exotic and lush. To the time traveller, the environment is almost a paradise. The time traveller is perplexed that the future world seems so attractive and pleasant, making his previous predictions about the advancements in mankind seem totally absurd. Overall, from what he has just seen, he seems to think that the future world has advanced significantly, not only with the complexity of the buildings, but with the immense lush environment.

He notices robed figures in a nearby house who are watching him. Unexpectedly, some of them run toward him, and one approaches him. The time traveller regains his confidence as he detects the creature’s calm lack of fear. The time traveller observes that the creature is very beautiful and graceful, but extremely frail. This strikes him odd, because the creatures are so simple, and evolution suggests that humankind would grow stronger in their complexity. Even the clothes which the creature is wearing are simple: a purple tunic with a belt. The fact that the creatures are only about four foot, adds to the time traveller’s curiosity.

The time traveller soon finds out that these “creatures” do not speak English and instead speak in a strange and very sweet language. They are inquisitive and have a graceful gentleness, a certain childlike ease. The creatures have large eyes, curly hair, and thin red lips. When he points up to the sun to try to explain where he has come from, one of the creatures makes the sound of thunder, thinking that he came from the hailstorm. He wonders if they are fools and is flooded with disappointment. As they begin to run about and shower him with strange flowers, the time traveller laughs at how wrongly he had imaged the future. He anticipated that the people of the year Eight Hundred and Two Thousand odd would be incredibly in front of us in knowledge, technology and virtually everything else and is astounded that this is not the case.

The time traveller is taken into one of their large buildings and the creatures (called the Eloi) give him a meal of strange fruit, as he tries to learn a few words of their language, they laugh at his attempts. They soon grow weary of trying to teach him and the time traveller marvels at their laziness and lack of inquisitiveness. He walks out to explore the world of 802,701. There are ruins and he notices that all of the creatures live together in huge buildings. He also notices that there are no outward signs of gender, and that there are no old people. He thinks he has arrived in a communist paradise, and that these creatures are the result of a world without hardship and fear. However, he does go on to explain that his initial assumptions are usually very inaccurate.

The time traveller is making his way back to the time machine when he discovers it has gone. He figures that the creatures he encountered are far too week to be able to carry it and is sure that it has not travelled in time because he took the leavers out. The time traveller is haunted by the thought that he might be stuck in this strange future world and starts to panic.

He concludes that the machine must be hidden in the immense pedestal of the sphinx statue. He tries to open the pedestal's panels with a rock, but does not succeed. When he asks the Eloi how to open it, they react with shock and disgust. He decides that he must be patient, and that it would be a good idea to get to know the creatures better. He learns more of their language and explores the area. He pays more attention to the wells dotting the landscape, and notes that air seems to be sucked down into them. He can hear the dull sound of machines coming from below.

It is at this point that the time traveller realises that there are only buildings, there is no machinery or appliances of any kind. He wonders where the Eloi get there clothes from because they must be madesomewhere and he doesn’t understand the strange wells dotted around the landscape.

On his third day, the time traveller saves a young female Eloi from drowning in a river. Like all the other Eloi, she is afraid of the dark and is adamant that the time traveller sleeps with them. The time traveller sees no evidence of anything remotely alarming during the nights he’s spent on the future world. However, he wakes at dawn one morning and witnesses what he can only describe as white ape like creatures running alone up a hill. He is slightly alarmed and thinks they might even be ghosts, he concludes that they would soon “take a far deadlier possession of my mind.” The next day the time traveller finds a dark narrow gallery and entering it he comes across a pair of eyes watching him in the darkness. He speaks and touches something soft and a white ape like creature runs behind him and he sees it climb down the wall. It is at this point that the time traveller realises that man has evolved into two diverse creatures: the Eloi who live in the “upper world” and the nocturnal Morlocks who live below. He also receives ample clues to make some more grounded theories. He concludes that the future world is not in fact a communist state as he previously believed, but an excessively capitalist one that is completely divided. Furthermore, he sees the differences between the rich and poor in his modern-day England, have led to the physical evolution of the two species. While the Eloi live lives of luxury, the Morlocks are projections of England’s oppressed workers, toiling underground to provide for their masters.

After a day of contemplating, the time traveller finally decides to descend into a well and as he climbs down he can hear the thudding of machinery. He finds out that the Morlocks speak a different language to the Eloi and eat meat, although he is unsure of what type of meat it is or where it came from. We see how unequipped the Morlocks are. The time traveller has to use matches to navigate his way in the darkness and has difficulty up and down their shafts. We also learn that the time traveller despises the Morlocks and as the nights grow darker he begins to understand why the Eloi fear darkness, though he states that he does not know what kind of “foul villainy” the Morlocks practice at night. The TT also revises his hypothesis: while the Eloi and Morlocks may have once had a master-slave relationship, now the Morlocks are growing in power while the eloi are fearful. He comes up with yet another theory: the Morlocks breed the Eloi like cattle for food. The TT sympathy for the Eloi overshadows whatever ideas he previously had about the rich being justly punished, yet he acknowledges the Morlocks growing power is a logical progression of class tension.

He comes up with a plan to defeat the Morlocks. First, he will find a safe shelter. Then he will use a torch as a weapon against the Morlocks. Finally, he will acquire some kind of battering-ram to break open the pedestal under the White Sphinx, where he imagines the Time Machine is still kept. He also plans to bring Weena back to his own time. When he gets there, the TT finds the palace of the green porcelain falling into ruins and, inside he finds a museum with skeletons of extinct creatures and a few surviving objects from his time. With Weena’s prompting the TT notices that the floor of the gallery is sloping into darkness and there are small footprints leading into it. He breaks of a leaver of a machine and restrains his desire to kill the Morlocks with his new "mace," as it may impede his progress in regaining the Time Machine. The TT passes through a ruined library, and then goes upstairs to a surprisingly well-preserved gallery of chemistry. He finds a box of matches and a jar of camphor, a flammable substance which he decides to use as a candle. He decides to camp out with a fire for protection, and feels hopeful that he will be able to pry open the pedestal with his lever.

Determined to reach the white sphinx early the next morning the time traveller treks with Weena through the woods that had stopped him on his previous journey. They gather sticks for a fire that night. The time traveller spots some hiding Morlocks and decides to distract them by setting fire to some grass and sticks. He proceeds with Weena into the woods as the fire spreads behind them. However the distraction of the fire does not seem to have prevented the Morlocks from following them so the TT lights a match and scares them off. Weena faints so he carries her a little way. He realises he is lost and disoriented and so he decides to camp out. He fends of yet more Morlocks and punches one when it blindly approaches.

The TT finally gets to sleep but awakens to find the Morlocks are on him again. The fire has extinguished and his he has no matches left. He fights the Morlocks with the "strange exultation" of violence strikes them with the lever causing them to flee.

He realises that Weena has gone and unable to find her he follows the Morlocks into an open space. The TT strikes the Morlocks until he understands that they are blinded by the fire and there is no reason to impair them any further. He does not locate Weena among them and endures the rest of the worrying night, feeling it is some kind of nightmare. He cannot find her in the morning and believes that her body must be somewhere in the forest. He restrains his strong desire to massacre the Morlocks and limps on to the white sphinx, feeling lonely without Weena. He also discovers some loose matches in his pocket.

The TT returns in the morning to the hill he had stood on his first night, and reflects on how wrong his initial assumptions were. He thinks the human intellect had committed suicide by creating a perfect state in which the rich had "wealth and comfort" and the poor had "life and work." Such a perfect balance can exist for only so long, he believes, before it is disrupted. He sleeps, and then heads down to the White Sphinx. He is surprised to find the bronze pedestal has been opened, and the Time Machine is inside, cleaned and oiled. He throws away his weapon and goes inside. Suddenly, the bronze panels close up, and the TT is trapped. The Morlocks laugh as they approach him. The TT feels safe, knowing he has only to reattach the levers on the machine to make his exit. However, his matches require a box to light. In the darkness, he fights them and without fire or his weapon he is reduced to basics. He gets into the machine's saddle and reattaches the levers. Finally, he pulls a lever and disappears.

I believe The Time machine illustrated fully, in H.G. Wells’ view, how far human evolution will go if capitalism continues unhampered. He thought man would split into two distinct species: the Eloi and the Morlocks in the novel. Furthermore, he illustrated how the advancements will not necessarily be in mankind but in the environment. I liked the way in which H.G Wells illustrated this when the TT first arrives in the future: the Eloi showering him in strange flowers and the fruit which he receives from them. I also think the way he described the features of the Morlocks and Eloi are particularly clever. The Eloi’s luxurious, carefree lifestyle has made the Eloi weak, frail and lazy. Without the urgent need to survive, the Eloi have not needed to become more “fit” but have instead regressed and become dependent. Similarly, the fact that the Morlocks are effectively slaves of the Eloi has made them strong and bigger than the Eloi, and have even adapted to their environment by being able to see in the dark. I also think the way in which the time traveller finds out more as the story progresses and makes theories based upon the evidence he has seen so far is particularly helpful to the reader and, I believe, makes them want to find out the final conclusion of the time traveller.

I consider the fact that Wells included the character of Weena in the story is very important because in my opinion, if he did not include her the TT's violence against the Morlocks would seem less justified; as it is, he attacks them to avenge her death.

I also admire H.G Wells’ use of irony in that the time traveller relies greatly on ancient survivalist intelligence to overpower the Morlocks.

Overall I think this novel was excellent in illustrating, in Wells’ view, what could potentially happen if society was to remain as it is. I think Wells had a great imagination, as reflected in the book and used his experiences in life to come up with some very interesting imagery throughout the novel.

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Comments 2 comments

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dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It has been a long time since I read the book.I enjoyed it as just a pioneering effort in science fiction and was not aware of the political implications.


Brad 22 months ago

I could be wrong, but I think Cheap Trick used two photos of tsmvhelees in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the front and back of their second album, In Color and In Black and White. The distinctive towers are visible in at least one of the photos. The night photo looked best.Another NYC night photo that looks real good on an album is from the Dictators' Bloodbrothers, which shows them hanging out menacingly in a Bronx playground.

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