Reader Response to Wells’ The Time Machine

Reader Response to Wells’ The Time Machine

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Reader Response to Wells’ The Time Machine


As a Christian, I don't personally believe in evolution in general; I don't think humans evolved from a lower life form and I don't think we will be here for another 800,000 years to evolve into anything else. But the logical scientist in me is nonetheless intrigued at the possibilities presented in The Time Machine. So what would happen to the human race a few hundred millennia from now? Would it divide into two distinct races that live separately from one another as Wells describes? I personally don't think this would happen. The human race seems to have a stubborn quality about it -- anytime there is a challenge or obstacle to face, we tend to try to overcome it in one way or another. I remember reading somewhere recently (I can't remember where) that humans have a natural tendency to resist captivity or oppression. This is why slavery is never permenent, and the history of man is littered with uprisings and revolts. This line of thinking begs the question: if indeed the Morlocks were forced underground at one point or another, why did they stay there? Even if they accepted their new environment without question, they were going to run out of food eventually -- no sun means no plants or vegetables, correct? This is where the Time Traveler presumes that the Morlocks began to feed on the Eloi out of necessity. But wouldn't the Morlocks just return to the surface at this point? Why would they stay underground if their only food was on the surface? It doesn't seem to make sense. Nevertheless, the year 802,701 as envisioned by Wells is fascinating. I have always loved good stories, especially imaginative ones, and I must admit that The Time Machine has become one of my favorite works of literature.

Along these same lines, I have to agree with what Michael wrote in the first part of his journal entry. I, too, am not a fan of overanalyzing works of literature. For me good stories are just that -- stories. Don't get me wrong, there are many cases where looking past the surface of a book is appropriate -- for example Animal Farm is obviously allegory, and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is not so obviously a book promoting socialism. But sometimes I think that critics are digging too deep into literature and finding things that just aren't there, nor did the author intend for them to be there.

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In my English class last semester, we read a book that had two objects that were triangle shaped. The professor or course said that these objects were symbolically connected, representing the same element (a broken relationship). But this is not at all clear from the context of the book, and the objects themselves had nothing to do with what they were presumably symbolizing.

So where am I going with this? I say all this because despite my fierce abhorrence of over-analyzation, I think the Campbell chart of the hero's quest is a marvelous tool for understanding the deeper structure of much of literature, including SF. Even before I took this class, I learned that the life of Christ follows the hero's quest. From Philippians 2:6-9 (NIV):

[Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.

The idea here is that Jesus began as God himself in heaven. His call is to go down to earth to save mankind (though he doesn't refuse this call). From here he crosses the threshold into humanity by becoming a human himself. He faces various trials from here, including temptation by the devil (described in chapter 4 of Matthew), as well as all of the general pain and suffering that humans feel. He faces his dragon-slaying/sparagmos when he defeats the "dragon" of sin and dies in the crucifixion. He even, as some believe, descends down into hell for three days, from which he returns with his resurrection into a new body. From here he has found his recognition by his Father God, and crosses back over the threshold into heaven again where he returns to the same high position (as God) that he was in when he started.

Even if I weren't a Christian, all didacticism aside, I would be forced to consider that Christ is, in the Campbell sense, an obvious example of a hero. Maybe that's why I quickly take a liking to books like The Time Machine -- I love seeing heroes and reading about how their stories play out.
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