- For Teachers
When most people think about the evolution of man going into the future, they see flying cars, robots, and extremely intellectual people. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells, begs a different idea. As humans evolve, are they becoming an entity that is becoming undeveloped, controlled, and disciplined by Nature?
In Victorian England, when The Time Machine was published for the first time, there was a new idea about evolution called “Social Darwinism.” Social Darwinism is “a 19th-century theory, inspired by Darwinism, by which the social order is accounted as the product of natural selection of those persons best suited to existing living conditions and in accord with which a position of laissez-faire is advocated (Dictionary.Reference).” In Simple English, this means that the strongest or fittest should survive and flourish in society, while the weak and unfit should be allowed to die. When the Time Traveler arrives in 802,701 A.D., he encounters a civilization of tender, child-like creatures called the Eloi who he soon learns are frivolous, indolent, and dull-minded, despite their beauty and innocence (Literature and Genetics). The Eloi live in a utopia of perfect communism where each of them dress, eat and live exactly the same. The evolved humanoids seem to have kept some of their ancestors’ emotions although they do not always express them. An example of this is when Weena is drowning in the futuristic Thames River and none of the Eloi makes the slightest attempt to save her. In the Social Darwinism society that the Eloi have implemented, if the Time Traveler had not been there, Weena would have died without any qualms from the rest of the pack. After she is saved, Weena becomes the Time Travelers companion and constantly shows the very human qualities of love, loyalty, and friendship.
During the 800,806 years between Victorian England and the futuristic England, there has been a schism between humans living above and below ground. As the Eloi play above ground without a care throughout the day, when the darkness of night approaches they become very frightened. This is because the Morlocks or “under-grounders” are on the prowl. The Morlocks are dull white, red-eyed, hairy, ape-like creatures. These perceived subservient creatures are actually the monarchs of the future. Unlike the Eloi, the Morlocks still have technology and machinery in their underground caverns and tunnels. The Time Traveler figures out by exploring these tunnels – without Weena – that the Morlocks still possess machinery and technology. The Morlocks are carnivorous beasts that hunt the defenseless Eloi at night. Just as the Eloi only have one fear, the Morlocks only weakness is light. Luckily, the Time Traveler has brought several matches with him. This is an example of how the 19th century scientist is able to conquer a more “evolved” form of himself by the simplistic idea of fire. This shows that humans have actually digressed rather than advancing. (Literature and Genetics)
The Time Machine theorizes that humans are actually evolving the world in which they live into a dystopia rather than an utopia. The Eloi, who are very unintelligent seem to have figured out how to live in perfect harmony with each other. However, they are controlled by a species that like the ants in The Once and Future King, by T.H. White. The Morlocks give the impression of machines that are working without question to their far superior masters. The way the Morlocks act and their possession of machinery is a symbol of how H. G. Wells feels about humans and technology. This becomes apparent as he gives the Eloi, a people with no technology, perfect tranquility (Suite 101).
Wells’ depiction of the new species that humans have morphed into symbolizes the different class structure of the Victorian Era of the later 19th century England. The working-class who worked with large machinery in even larger factories are the Morlocks. Although the Time Traveler portrays the Morlocks as evil, H.G. Wells’ is tries to make the connection that the Morlocks are a necessary part of the Eloi’s, the comfortable and higher-class, society. “These factories provided goods for wealthy employers to be distributed largely to the ruling classes who purchased manufactured commodities from the hands of the less affluent working class (Suite 101).” Just as employees of a factory earn payment in coins and paper, the Morlocks earn payment for the things they make the Eloi in flesh and bones. People with consciences, like the Time Traveler, will innately side with the Eloi, but isn’t this transaction of commodities, though primeval and archaic, fair?
This dystopia of 802,701A.D. reveals how H.G. Wells feels about humans and machinery. Wells’ concern for man’s over-reliance on machinery to perform daily tasks is displayed in the mind-set of the Eloi. Wells’ believed “that the unhealthy passivity and degeneration of the aristocracy in society, through an over reliance on the working classes to do their work for them (Suite 101)” would ultimately result in a sub-species of humans that are too lazy to perform any tasks that take more than a few minutes. Another example of this is how the Eloi interact with one another. It appears that the Eloi, young and old, act and have the maturity of children and are also hedonistic, as the Time Traveler cites many times that he sees Eloi trying to mate. Wells hopes that the people of the future try to indulge in activities that are not just physically stimulating, but also mentally.
this is an essay on the theme of evolution any help would be appreciated!