The Time Machine: Rhetorical Analysis

H.G. Wells The Time Machine is a novel that remains relevant for audiences from 1895 to the present day as it is a social commentary about the divide between the rich and poor with the problems stemming from it. He gives this message throughout The Time Machine as we follow the Time Traveller on his journey to the dystopian future of Earth. H.G. Wells presents his message 3 ways to make the novel relevant even today. He does this by making readers fearful of our potential future, giving us causes and the effects, and by having us view the story through the resourceful Time Traveller.

Wells instead of showing a bright future in The Time Machine humanity is instead in a regressed state between two subspecies. The first being the Eloi, descendants of the upper class, they are “beautiful and graceful creatures, but indescribably frail.” (34) in addition to being unintelligent. They are no more than cattle to the Morlocks, the other branch of humanity. The Morlocks, in contrast, are the descendants of the lower working class that were subject to generations of work underground, working machinery and being treated as less than human. As a result, they eventually devolved into “inhuman sons of men,”(101) and turned to cannibalism when nothing was left to eat underground. The pitiful state and divide of mankind in The Time Machine, with one side being cattle and the other vicious cannibalistic animals is part of Wells strategy of making the reader fearful to get the readers attention that the enormous divide between the rich and poor is something that has to be addressed and is still prevalent today.

Throughout various points in the novel, the Time Traveller theorizes on how the future came to be, giving causes and effects. For example, he gives causes for why the Morlocks eat the Eloi reasoning that “at some time in the Long-Ago of human decay the Morlocks’ food had run short,”(100) and consequently the Morlocks turned on the Eloi and began to eat them to sustain themselves. He adds that another effect of this decision is the Morlocks farming the Eloi, where they seeing “to the breeding of,” (101) the Eloi, so their food source wouldn’t run out. Another example of cause and effect is the Time Traveller explaining the weakness of the Eloi is because their ancestors lived “in ease and delight upon the labors of his fellow man,”(101) in addition the lack of hardship under which the “active, strong, and subtle survive” (50) the upper classes’ minds and bodies deteriorated resulting in intellectual decay and showing that technology comes with unintended consequences. Wells by giving causes for problems and explaining their various effects allow him to comment that there are issues in society like the class divide and the negative effects it has on people.

The Time Machine’s story about a journey through time is entirely told by the Time Traveller which includes his thinking. The Time Traveller is very open and honest about his opinions, and doesn’t delude himself even as he struggles to such as when he found out the Morlocks eat the Eloi he “tried to preserve myself from the horror that was coming upon me, by regarding it as a rigorous punishment of human selfishness.”(101) However, he couldn’t and declared “this attitude of mind was impossible”(101) as despite coming from the lazy and inactive rich the Eloi didn’t deserve to be eaten. The Time Traveller struggles physically throughout the book as well as mentally especially when he lost the time machine where he was “sobbing and raving”(56) at the prospect of never returning home. Through this, the audience is able to relate with the Time Traveller and his struggles as well as be open to his thinking and thus Wells message as again the journey through time is told entirely by the Time Traveller.

The Time Machine is a novel still relevant for audiences from 1895 to the present by addressing the class conflict between the rich and the poor. To address this message Wells makes the reader fearful of the future showing a regressed state of humanity. He gives causes for why things are and the effects such as the Eloi being weak because of the laziness of their ancestors. Finally, the Time Traveller is made a relatable person as he struggles and ponders throughout his journey letting us be more willing to his thinking and in turn Wells's message. Despite being 124 years old, Wells's novel The Time Machine is still as relevant as ever addressing the inherent social problems that still plague our society