Essay from Z.I. Mahmud (one of three)

Old white man in a vest and long sleeved shirt working a machine with gears in a room with a grandfather clock and a painting and windows. The room is bending.
H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine
We are to shape our state in a world of uncertain seasons, sudden catastrophes, antagonistic diseases, inimical beasts and vermin, out of men and women of the like passions, the like uncertainties of mood and desire to our own.”. Examine the Time Machine as a static utopian fiction contrasting critical perspectives of kinetic utopia highlighted in the commentary.

H.G. Wells' time traveler surmounts to venture upon his adventuresome journey in aftermath of the narrator’s dialect to ‘consider I have been speculating upon the destinies of our race”, the epilogue of the novel where the narrator suggests, “He [ …] thought but less cheeringly of the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the growing pile of the civilization, only a  foolish heaping that must inevitably fall back upon and destroy its makers in the end.” The time traveller’s futuristic analyses of the society of Victorian England are extrapolations of close surface similarities of male and female Eloi community between adults and children alike, where forth the author concludes, “the strength of the man, the softness of the woman, the institution of the family, the differentiation of the occupations are merely militant necessities of an age of physical force. 

The science fantasies are offered as so many cautionary fables, so many dreadful warnings to humanity to look to itself, to take stockings from its current sick condition and remedy it before it is too late. Population control, childbearing and childrearing decline of motherhood, falling stoicism of menial chores or physical labour in males, will show less differentiation and consequent immaturity into adulthood, such leisure brings, leads the Time Traveller to observe that, “children seemed to my eyes to be but the miniatures of their parents.” 

Morlockian cannibalism satirizes the burgeoning working class proletarian revolution in the tumultuous turmoil wrecked by the upsurge of militant trade unionism particularly left wing labour party political organization. Earlier the Eloi had rose to ascendancy but subsequently dethroned by Morlockians, since the latter possessed initiative in the face of adversity. Industry and working-class accommodation were removed from the surface of the earth and buried underground, since all the surface of the earth was bequeathed to be conferred upon the ruling class of aristocracy. In this sense, all the surface of the earth came to be dominated and owned by the enterprises proprietors of Victorian bourgeoisie, “artificial undergrounds that such work as was necessary to the comfort of the daylight, race was done”. The Time Traveller maintains that for his audience, envisioning a society that does not require a great leap of imagination, “even now there [/////] is a tendency to utilize underground as the space for less ornamental purposes, there is the Metropolitan Railway in London, for instance, there are new electric railways and subways, there are underground stations and restaurants, and they increase and multiply.” 

It is worth analyzing how the Elois degenerated and eventually were eliminated by the surge of extinction, since they were diminished of their intelligence and their strength in contrast to their subterranean habitats dwelling neighbours subalterns Morlocks; Morlocks possessed the intuitive spirits of resiliency by engagement in productive labor and physical prowess in order to savage damnable starvation and malicious suffocation. Post Darwinian evolutionary adaptations, thus, overthrew the Eloi to their downfall and the Morlocks to their triumphalism in the extremes of individualistic collectivism. The Time Traveller discovers that the Elois privileged aristocracy as the automatic rulers of the earth unearthed the fatal flaw: “that perfect state had lacked one thing even for mechanical perfection-----absolute permanency.”

The Time Traveller believes that middle-class inbreeding was fundamental and crucial to the slit in the humanity produced by the Eloi and the Morlocks, with the widening gulf between classes, being the result of the promotion by intermarriage, which at present, retards the splitting of our species along the lines of social stratification, becoming lesser and lesser frequent.” An animal in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence unless habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence when there is no change or no need for change….” Eloi over the centuries have adapted so well to their environment that life had become instinctual once again. 

However, when considering the Morlocks the opposite must be the case: “It is a law of nature to overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger and trouble….Only those animals partake intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers.”  Food crises reinforced these minion ant like creatures to prey and preserve their cattled like creatures upperworlder masters Eloi. Event the writer prolifically exclaims in astonishment, “I was surprised to find it had been carefully oiled and cleaned. I had suspected that the Morlocks, had even partially taken it to pieces while trying in their dim way to grasp its purpose.” 

Robert M Philmus points out that, “by 802/701 no species has the intelligence anymore to set limits on the struggles for existence, in where the defenseless Eloi fall victim to the carnivorous Morlocks. Furthermore, the Morlocks are unable to walk upon the surface of the earth due to their blindness in daylight and their new role as exploiters of the upperworld Eloi simply reverses the old equation rather than changes its nature. Thus the story ends with the general biological devolution and the destruction of the planet as witnessed by the Time Traveller in his “Future Vision”. 

In valedictory argument, Mc Connell’s critical interpretation is a justifiable approach to vindicate the Time Machine as a static utopian fiction, “The environment will inevitably change upon the course of geological, cosmological time. And the species that has been too close at home with one phase of climate and ecology will probably lose the resiliency to change and meet the demands of another phase.”

Further Reading and References

John S Partington’s The Time Machine and A Modern Utopia: The Static and Kinetic Utopias of the Early H.G. Well’s, Utopian Studies, 2002, Vol. 13, No. 1, pages: 57-68.
HG Wells’ The Time Machine Reviewed –archive, 1895 The Guardian