H. G. Wells’s Time Machine: a Fear of The Unknown

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 938 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

Words: 938|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Metaphorical Representation of Societal Structures
  3. Character Development Through Titles
  4. Portrayal of Fear of the Unknown
  5. Conclusion
  6. References


H.G. Wells' classic novella "The Time Machine" is a literary work that invites readers to delve into its intricate layers of meaning. This essay will explore three significant aspects of the novella in greater detail, providing an in-depth analysis of the metaphorical representation of societal structures, the dynamic character development through titles, and the profound portrayal of fear of the unknown. Through these elements, Wells crafts a narrative that continues to captivate and provoke thought in its readers, shedding light on timeless themes of societal inequality, individual recognition, and the universal experience of fear.

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Metaphorical Representation of Societal Structures

Wells employs a striking metaphorical representation of societal structures through the contrasting worlds inhabited by the Eloi and the Morlocks. When the Time Traveler embarks on his journey to the distant future, he encounters two distinct species. The Eloi, despite their limited intellectual capabilities and inherent laziness, thrive in an environment that provides them with abundant sustenance and seemingly pre-built shelters. In stark contrast, the Morlocks, dwelling underground, rely on the Eloi as a primary food source.

This complex relationship between the Eloi and the Morlocks serves as a mirror reflecting the social inequalities prevalent in our contemporary society. The Eloi, akin to the privileged upper class, live in comfort and luxury, largely disconnected from the harsh realities faced by the Morlocks, who symbolize the marginalized lower class. This metaphor underscores the divide between socioeconomic strata, emphasizing how the affluent often enjoy unfettered access to resources and protection while the less fortunate grapple with the struggle to meet their basic needs.

Furthermore, Wells' portrayal of the Eloi and the Morlocks highlights the theme of complacency within society. The Eloi's passivity and reliance on the environment echo the complacency of those in positions of privilege, while the Morlocks' predatory nature underscores the exploitation and vulnerability of the disadvantaged. Through this metaphor, Wells encourages readers to reflect on the implications of complacency in the face of social injustices and the inherent dangers of an imbalanced society.

Character Development Through Titles

"The Time Machine" presents a unique approach to character development by focusing on characters' mannerisms, knowledge, and significance, rather than relying on conventional physical descriptions. This narrative technique underscores the intellectual depth of the characters, emphasizing their mental attributes over their physical appearances. Notably, the novella employs titles to distinguish and characterize its individuals, a dynamic aspect of character development.

In the early stages of the story, characters are introduced with titles such as "The Psychologist," "The Inventor," and "The Very Young Man." These titles reflect their roles within the narrative, emphasizing their respective fields of expertise. However, as the story unfolds and the characters' roles evolve, so do their titles. For example, "The Inventor" transitions into "The Time Traveler" after successfully creating the Time Machine and embarking on his temporal journeys.

This fluidity in character titles serves to underscore the characters' defining traits and achievements. In a manner analogous to real life, where individuals are often recognized and remembered for their most significant accomplishments or distinguishing attributes, "The Time Machine" highlights the importance of these achievements in shaping one's identity. Through this narrative device, Wells challenges readers to consider how we define ourselves and others based on our notable achievements, talents, or contributions to society.

Portrayal of Fear of the Unknown

One of the most memorable and impactful scenes in "The Time Machine" occurs when the Time Traveler descends underground into the Morlocks' subterranean lair, where he witnesses them preparing to consume an Eloi. This gruesome discovery leads to a harrowing pursuit as the Time Traveler attempts to escape the clutches of the Morlocks. Wells masterfully conveys the Time Traveler's profound fear through vivid descriptions of the scene and the protagonist's emotional turmoil.

The visceral portrayal of the Morlocks' grisly activities and the Time Traveler's fear serves to create a lasting impact on the reader. This scene lingers in the mind due to its graphic details and the intense fear experienced by the protagonist. It vividly underscores the universal theme of fear of the unknown, a sensation that resonates with many individuals when confronted with unfamiliar environments or situations. Although readers may not have encountered such specific circumstances, the general feeling of fear and discomfort in unfamiliar territory is a relatable human experience.

Furthermore, this portrayal of fear adds depth to the narrative by highlighting the vulnerability of the Time Traveler, who, despite his intellectual prowess and scientific achievements, grapples with intense fear when faced with the inexplicable and menacing nature of the Morlocks. In doing so, Wells reminds readers of the fundamental human capacity for fear, regardless of one's background or abilities.

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In H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine," readers encounter a rich tapestry of metaphorical representations of societal structures, dynamic character development through titles, and a profound portrayal of fear of the unknown. These elements collectively contribute to the novella's enduring appeal and its ability to provoke contemplation on enduring themes of social inequality, individual recognition, and the omnipresence of fear. "The Time Machine" continues to serve as a timeless work of literature that invites readers to explore the complexities of human nature and society.


  1. Wells, H. G. (1895). The Time Machine. Holt.
  2. Parrinder, P. (1980). H.G. Wells: The Critical Heritage. Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  3. Scholes, R. (1977). Structural Fabulation: An Essay on Fiction of the Future. University of Notre Dame Press.
  4. Doherty, T. (2019). H.G. Wells and All Things Dark and Wonderful: A Biographical Portrait of the Man Who Created The War of the Worlds. Chicago Review Press.
  5. Westfahl, G. (2018). The Science Fiction of H.G. Wells. Routledge.
  6. Parrinder, P. (2000). H.G. Wells Under Revision: Proceedings of the International H.G. Wells Symposium, London, July 1986. Macmillan.
  7. Seed, D. (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Science Fiction. Oxford University Press.
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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H. G. Wells’s Time Machine: A Fear Of The Unknown. (2018, Jun 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
“H. G. Wells’s Time Machine: A Fear Of The Unknown.” GradesFixer, 17 Jun. 2018,
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H. G. Wells’s Time Machine: A Fear Of The Unknown [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Jun 17 [cited 2024 Jun 19]. Available from:
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