Thematic Elements

Society and Class

H. G. Wells appears to address the idea of social class and the separation between the proletariat and the bourgeois in The Time Machine. He makes this separation visually apparent by describing the Eloi as “consumptive” (81) and weak but beautiful and elegant– leading lives of genuine ease and leisure. The Eloi are probably meant to represent the evolution of the wealthy bourgeois class. They live lives of excessive leisure and because of that become frail and helpless. In contrast, the Morlocks appear to represent the repressed working class proletariat. Their existence has literally been forced underground, where presumably they do the work that allows the Eloi to live so easily and without performing physical labor. The narrator of the novel hypothesizes that the Eloi will eventually be destroyed by the stronger Morlocks.

The discrepancies between the classes and the setting of the novel being far in the future (802,701 AD) suggests that Wells is envisioning where humanity is headed under its current structuring of the social classes. The bourgeois will be the masters of their own demise and create their eventual destruction, even if it is thousands of years in the future.


Solar Death and the End of the World

Throughout The Time Machine, Wells makes several references to the heat, the air, and the size of the sun. Several Victorian writers found themselves intrigued by the concept of the sun expanding and eventually consuming the earth sometime in the distant future. Basically, scientists and thinkers of the time considered the law of thermodynamics, and that since energy can neither be created nor destroyed the universe would eventually end in Heat Death. The sun would continue to grow, in this case, enveloping the world in heat.

As the Time Traveller continues to move into the future, he continues to comment on the increasing heat and thinning air– that is, the continued growth of the inhospitality of the earth. Wells addresses the idea that humankind is not a permanent species. Like all others, humans will go extinct and the world will continue to exist and evolve long after the problems of our time have passed.

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