H.G Wells' The Time Machine

H.G Wells' The Time Machine

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Influence
Thomas Huxley, a famous biologist and H.G. Wells' teacher, once said
that "We live in a world which is full of misery and ignorance, and the
plain duty of each and all of us is to try to make the little corner he
can influence somewhat less miserable and somewhat less ignorant than
it was before he entered it" (Zaadz). In other words, we all have the
duty to leave the world a better place by leaving our influence on
others. At some point of our lives, we've all had someone or something
close to us that has left their influence on us and H. G. Wells is no
different. His novella, The Time Machine, was inspired by the various
different traits of Wells' family and social life. The book in turn
influenced many others in the world. The society and his surroundings greatly
influenced H.G. Wells in The Time Machine, which in turn influenced
other human beings.
The Time Machine, although a science fiction, had many prospects that
were real, that were existent in the life of H.G. Wells. H.G. Wells
had many events and people around him whose influences were seen in The
Time Machine. The first thing that a person gets inspired by is their
loved ones, and so did H.G. Wells. His family background, referring to
his mother and father, and his own upbringing is seen clearly in the
main characters of the book.
H. G. Wells was born in a lower-middle class family and a class-ridden
society in 1966. During that time, the first thing that would be
settled between a newly employed maid servant and her mistress is what
names is the servant liable to answer to. The employed servant couldn't
answer unless the name was appropriate for the position she was hired
for; for example, a menial had to answer to menial names. Anthony West
explains that his "father always had a tin ear in this region, and his
more refined admirers often complained of the tiny flaw that allowed him
to give his females such awful names -- poor Weena of The Time Machine
being a favored case point" (West, 370).
Weena is the only character in the entire novella that has a name; all
the other characters are either known by their first initial or their
occupation. There hasn't been a specific reason in the past records as

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to why Weena is the only character named in the book. But by looking
at Wells' life and his beliefs, we can guess the reason behind this
mystery. H.G. Wells was a true Socialist, a committed humanitarian, and a
supporter of women's rights. A supporter of women's rights at that
time would be laughed and ridiculed. But H.G. Wells, a devoted
humanitarian, wanted to help out and change the society (Keller). This could be
a possible explanation as to why Weena, a only woman character in the
book, was given a name and not the other men in the novella.
H.G. Wells says in the book that the Morlocks were "subterranean for
innumerable generations, had come at last to find the daylit surface
intolerable" (Wells, 51). The cavernous Morlocks' natural habitat had
degenerated from ages. They lived underground because they couldn't bear
the daylight and also had to stay below ground to keep the machines
working for their cattle, the Elois. Now, a normal person would think
this characterization as a work of imagination. But H.G. Wells had a
reason for the Morlocks to be how they were portrayed in the book. He had
a story behind the mysterious Morlocks that was related to his parents.

Wells' parents had always been in constant arguments. Wells' mother
had left her husband and his son to be a housekeeper in the castle
located in Uppark. His mother used to complaint about his father's lack of
consideration for her which "condemned her to spend the greater part of
her day every day below ground level in the basement kitchen of Atlas
House, a room that borrowed its light from a pit covered by a metal
grating set into the pavement of Bromley's High Street" (West, 226).
It is evident that Wells had gotten the idea of Morlocks from the
behaviors of her mother and father. Anthony West, H.G. Wells' illegitimate
son, clarifies this influence on his father in his book Aspects of a
Life: "His (Wells') bottled-up feelings on this score, mingled with
others, even more powerful, concerning the fundamentals of relationship
between his parents, had finally burst out into the open in his
descriptions of the loathly caverns inhabited by the light-fearing Morlocks in
The Time Machine" (West, 228). Wells used the Morlocks as a tool to
express his feelings without anyone knowing that he was talking about his
own mother.
H.G. Wells lived in the Victorian era where the society was divided
into three distinct classes: the aristocracy, the working class, and the
working poorer class. He, in fact, was born in a low-middle class
family; his father was a poor businessman and his mother was a housekeeper
(Meet the Writers). Wells' influence by the continuous class struggle
around him is portrayed in The Time Machine's two 'classes' - the Elois
and the Morlocks.
The two classes are in the novella are as distinct as the Bourgeois
and the Proletariat. "The [Eloi] might once have been the favoured
Aristocracy," meaning the ruling class, the Bourgeois, "and the Morlocks
their mechanical servants," referring to the working class, the
proletariats (Wells, 33). Class-consciousness in Communism might've been the
reason behind the Morlocks' uprising. The working class, meaning the
Morlocks, saw itself as oppressed by the aristocracy and became conscious of
its class and bonded together to overthrow the ruling class of the
Elois. Wells was trying to give a message to his society by showing the
degeneration of the two classes:
While the Morlocks evidence no signs of abstract thought (nor do
the Eloi), we can see their revolution as a form of Marxist evolution.
Wells tells his Victorian audience to look at its own time, in which
the industrial revolution has further divided the classes, and
consider the possibility of its turning into the Eloi if capitalism
continues to run rampant. (Wayne)
The Time Machine reflects Wells' political views who was a committed
socialist. The future that the Time Traveler sees was the product of
capitalist class structures. The Eloi and the Morlocks symbolize the
class structure in a capitalist society; the critics stated--"the workers
thrust underground and deprived of light and the natural world, the rich
living idly and softly on the surface, on the profits of the workers'
labor" (H.G. Wells).
By showing the class struggle between the Elois and the Morlocks,
Wells was trying to warn the consequences of the technological advances and
the growing social classes of the society. In Chapter 4 of The Time
Machine, the time traveler says that "Humanity had been strong,
energetic, and intelligent and has used all its abundant vitality to alter the
conditions under which they lived…under the new conditions of perfect
comfort and security, the restless energy, that with us is strength,
would become weakness" (Wells, 38). He was trying to warn the higher
class Englishmen and the British government that social injustices would
prove to be destructive if not fixed immediately. He also alerts
everyone of the fatal consequences to the human race if there's no force to do
the work in the society (Julius).
Another inspiration of Wells that is seen in The Time Machine is his
scientific knowledge that he learned from his college teacher from the
Normal School of Science, Thomas Henry Huxley. Wells studied
evolutionary biology under Huxley. Wells learned the science that inspired many
of Wells' works and created the uncertainty of the human progress in the
mere future from Huxley. Wells took Huxley's idea that evolution was
an on-going process by showing the two distinct species of the Elois
and the Morlocks in The Time Machine (H.G. Wells). He broke the
assumption of Victorian Englishman that evolution had reached its peak during
the Victorian period (Kinciad). The Elois were the descendants of the
ruling class while the carnivorous Morlocks were the descendants of the
working class.
Wells wrote of Huxley six years after publishing The Time Machine,
that, as a student, he believed Huxley was "the greatest man I was likely
to meet, and I believe that all the more firmly today" (Firchow).
Wells was so inspired by Huxley and his friend Charles Darwin that he wrote
in his autobiography that they were "'very great men’ in that they
‘fought boldly, carefully, and simply’, and ‘spoke and wrote fearlessly
and plainly, they lived modestly and decently; they were mighty
intellectual liberators’" (Bergman).
Not only was Wells himself inspired by his family and social life but
his influence on the world is worth distinguishing. H.G. Wells created
the genre of science fiction in literature. He is known as the
"father of science fiction." In utter volume, Wells' works outnumbered those
of Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare combined (Keller).
As you can see, the society and his loved ones greatly inspired H.G.
Wells in writing The Time Machine. His influences from his parents,
family background, socialist beliefs, and the scientific knowledge that
he earned from Huxley and Darwin are greatly seen in the various
aspects of the novella The Time Machine. At the same time, Wells also left
an interminable influence on the Victorian era by fighting the
oppressive moral constraints like communism, class distinction, and social
structure.
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