Sunday, February 04, 2007


Wells has presented a fictitious story about one man’s journey into a future where knowledge has withered away and a bipolar society has emerged as a consequence of the traditional distribution of labor. Much can be ascertained from the fact that Well’s Time Machine was written around the onset of the Industrial Revolution in 1895. Just as the 19th century was coming to close, a series of problems emerged resulting from the urbanization of society. Much like the factory workers of New York city in 1895, the Morlocks, represent the scum and the backbone of the changing time, while the Elois live a leisurely life, much like the wealthy capitalists. Economic inequality is an observable consequence of the Industrial Revolution. And by painting a future exaggerating this inequality, Wells evokes a sense a disappointment. This seems to suggest that Wells abhors the Industrial Revolution.

Before I make this second point, let me clarify that I believe that technology and the Industrial revolution go hand in hand. Most of the material progress made during the 20th century can best be ascribed to the Industrial Revolution. In the novel, we see time and again, a need for technology felt by the time traveler. There is a need felt for the dynamite to break open the Sphinx door, a perpetual need for light to defend the Morlocks, a need for transportation. The time traveler finds use for the matches, camphor and an Iron bar that he recovers. These are all objects that one would associate with technological progress made during the Industrial Revolution. Thus by highlighting a need for technology in the world of the future, Wells once again evokes a sense of disappointment, but this time it seems to suggest that Wells actually found the Industrial revolution to have positive effects.

It is interesting to discuss this question because, Wells opinions seem contradictory. And it is this contradiction that speaks for the true nature of the Industrial Revolution and technology, which is undoubtedly a double edged sword.

Side Note: The parallel romance with Weena was a much appreciated distraction from the dull inferences about our future.



Blogger Felix Wong said...

I'm guessing it's pretty much a majority who believe that this book has a major emphasis in criticizing the Industrial Revolution. The rich got richer, and the poor got poorer. While the matches and iron and so forth seem to play a critical role in the time traveler's survival, they have become obsolete. They are no longer being used because they don't need to be used. The future has evolved to a point where technology do not need to be used anymore, possible furthering the idea that Wells was criticizing the Industrial revolution.

2/04/2007 10:50 PM  
Blogger BrendaFregoso said...

I definitely see many contradictions when analyzing Well's stance on the Industrial Revolution and Technology. When he arrives to the world of the Eloi and Morlocks, he begins to marvel at the thought that the human race has reached it's "peak" where no technology is needed: humans have transformed the world to satisfy their "needs by transforming "Mother Nature" to "Mother Necessity." Yet, throughout the book he reveals what a shame it is for the human race to have become intellectually incapable as a result of their futility. Since the Eloi and Morlocks lived mostly by habit and were uninfluenced by change, their intellect dwindled. Also, all the machines in the future are either rusted and useless or possessed by the evil Morlocks, signifying their presence as negative. Yet he is amazed by the machines he sees underground with the Morlocks and is intrigued by the machines at the ruined museum. The only clearly positive machine is the Time Mschine. His constant need for technology for survival though seems overpower all contradictions though, proving that intellect will prevail in a primitive world.

2/05/2007 1:14 AM  
Blogger Akshay said...

I agree with Felix; the book is very often read as criticizing the Industrial Revolution. This is closely related to some points made by Wells: a widening income-class disparity coupled with the (deleterious) effect of technology on humankind's innate intelligence and abilities. Although you make a good observation in bringing up the apparent contradiction, I believe that there is actually no paradox. Wells is using this book to warn of the Industrial Revolution's possible negative long-term effects on the human race, and the key here is "long-term." The positive aspects of technology highlighted by Wells seem to mostly deal with technology's utility in performing immediate tasks, such as burning camphor or blasting a door open. The long-term effects of technology, on the other hand, seem to be portrayed ominously; neither the Eloi nor the Morlocks are depicted positively, and they are, in a sense, the ultimate children of the Industrial Revolution. Therefore, I think the paradox can be resolved by making a distinction between short-term and long-term consequences of the Industrial Revolution.

2/05/2007 3:53 AM  
Blogger Shyam said...

I seem to be doing this a lot but I can't help but connect this contradiction back to Man With a Movie Camera. It is not the exact contradiction discussed here but it's very similar. The scene with the woman packing cigarette boxes is an example of the advance of machines toward increasing production rates etc, making the quality of our lives better overall. However, it is easy for this job to be done by machines and completely replace humans in other areas as well (we talked about this during our discussion of possible themes of the movie). This contradiction along with the one discussed here goes to show that the industrial revolution is a double-edged sword in more than one facet.

2/05/2007 4:17 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home