“The Time Machine”, published in 1895 by H. G. Wells, is considered as one of the best-known of his ‘scientific romances’. It is actually one of the most significant stories concerning time travel. Its significance comes from the fact that it explores the concept of time travel, in addition to its pseudoscientific explanation of the occurrence of time travel. The author also goes a long way in looking into the history for the source of the division of humanity, as well as how humanity adapts through the use of technology and how it is changed by it. Throughout the book, Wells contemplates the way in which mankind has evolved or devolved with technology, predicting the possible obliteration of humanity.
Specific Contemporary Scientific Facts, Theories and Ideas Incorporated in the Book
One of the main social theories of the late 19th century that Wells incorporates in the book is the theory of Charles Darwin, which justifies evolution. In the “Origin of Species”, Darwin was of the view that different environments led to the reproduction of species, with varying traits, a peculiar condition that suited them to survive (Wells 25-32). Additionally, their offspring would also continue in the process of adaptation by changing to the new environment. According to Wells, Social Darwinism was in frequent abuse of the concept of ‘natural selection’.
According to Wells, Darwin asserts that evolution does not lead to the perfection of any species, as is the perception of many. On the contrary, it is the increasing adaptability as well as the complexity of a species that leads to the perfection. Wells also argues that Social Darwinism basically explains that the species that ultimately succeed do so since they were biologically destined to succeed as well as to proceed with their march to human perfection. On the other hand, the species that failed in the process failed because of the inherent inferior traits, which they generally deserved.
However, Wells has a number of opposing views with regard to Social Darwinism. For instance, the beautiful Eloi seems to be perfect in the initial stages. On the contrary, it is discovered by the Time Traveler that the advancements of civilization have resulted in the enfeeblement of Eloi. This takes place in spite of the pressing requirements for survival. Eventually, they not only become weak and lazy, but they also become stupid.
Wells argues that while the characters seemingly receive perfection with regard to civilization, they however become distinctly defective. According to Wells, this basically means that evolution has challenges when it comes to application to the human nature. This is because in his view, man has the ability to change his environment even as he changes himself.
Consequently, the changing of the environment in neither here nor there may not always create pleasing changes in the human nature. In his view, Wells is of the opinion that Social Darwinism’s argument that those particular species which are able to succeed in a particular environment are superior is actually null and void.
Additionally, Wells makes use of ironies in the book to drive his point home. For instance, the Time Traveler changes into a near primal savage even as he deals with the Morlocks. This is evident when he does not find the advanced displays in the Palace of Green Porcelain useful. Instead, the Time Traveler opts to use a simpler lever as a weapon. In as much as the Timer Traveler is in the world of 802,701 AD, an age in which the conduct and tools of prehistoric man were used, he finds his main allies more effective.
This basically means that the Time Traveler has to devolve in order to survive in the advanced world. It is worth noting that Wells uses the ambiguity of the general Darwinism as well as its open structure for different interpretations. In many ways, he makes it clear that other ways for society and man to develop are possible apart from the upward tendency driven by the belief in progress. Wells also criticizes Social Darwinism as a theory linked to the ideology of contest whereby everyone fights against everyone, a contest which does not result in a higher development, but rather in obliteration.
The Science that the Book Highlights as well as its Approach to Nature
The book highlights the concept of entropy, which states that systems tend to shift disorder and lose energy even as time goes. In many ways, this is an idea that many people perceive to be inconsistent with regard to evolution. This is mainly because evolution implies that systems grow more ordered in their complication over time (Wells 25-32). The book is a clear indication that Wells is a believer in the concept of entropy. This is evident in the futuristic personification of Eloi, which indicates that they are dull and lazy creatures whose energy can be easily sapped, and who are constantly living in the fear of the Morlocks.
In the eleventh chapter, Wells goes ahead to explore the science of natural entropy. This is evident when the Time Traveler takes a journey into the future, an expedition gradually loses its energy, since the earth stops moving, with the sun dying and the wind ceasing. Throughout the book, the science of entropy is highlighted, an indication that the existence of Social Darwinism is refuted.
The Book’s Characterization of Research and the Researcher
Throughout the book, Wells has named the characters the Time Traveler, Weena, Morlocks, the Narrator and the Dinner Guests. Written in a conversational tone, the book provides occasions when the Time Traveler asserts the existence of the Fourth Dimension, as well as the fact that time travel is a possibility. Giving explanations regarding the amazing technological and cultural progress, the Time Traveler chronicles his many expeditions in the future. In his expeditions, he even discovers the extinction of all human life during his research.
Even after taking an expedition into the future when he travels thirty million years, he is not lucky enough to find any life at all. As a result, the Time Traveler ends up beseeching his cynical guests to take heed to his words of warning that the human race cannot be permitted to devolve into the primeval Eloi and Morlocks. At the end, the Time Traveler announces that he will return to the future in an attempt to further comprehend what is in store for the human race. Apparently, the Time Traveler fails to return from his last journey.
Treatment of Human and Social Implications of Scientific Knowledge
In as much as it is very clear on the fact that the Time Traveler leaves others behind even as he gets on with other adventures, the issue that clearly comes up is the aspect of transcendence of the human spirit. The author asserts that extinction and finality is actually part of nature. In many ways, Wells is of the opinion that common motivations as well as the essence of human psyche remain irrespective of the fact that evolutionary changes are prevalent in the world where humanity dwells in (Wells 45). He also believes that even if the mind and the strength of a human being will disappear, gratitude and mutual tenderness would still live on in the heart of a human being (Wells 156).
Though with a tinge of irony, the mutual tenderness of the human heart is evident in the thankfulness and the kindheartedness exhibited by Weena even as he is awarded with death. This is also a clear indication that love rises above all the time. Additionally, on his return to the Traveler’s house, the narrator is shocked to find that the Traveler has left on another expedition through time.
On the whole, despite advancing in science and technology, people can still remain human. This is because the advancements ought to assist humanity to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. They are meant to improve the lives of all people. Additionally, these innovations can also assist people to be human by transcending present limitations and eventually enhance the lives of all.
The Role of Science in Shaping Human Future
As a science fiction writer, Wells probes the role of science in shaping the future of humanity. By and large, his book explores the contemporary socio-economic, historical, political, as well as the scientific issues in concurrence with similar issues facing future societies. As a genre, the book gives emphasis on the significance of scientific laws, reasonable precisions, as well as a thematic anxiety over the future (Wells 67-75).
It also asserts the significance of humanity’s place in the universe as a whole. In the book, Wells is predictive of the future, even as he tries to give a description of the social impacts of science as a whole. In this regard, he makes use of extraordinary, far-fetched, as well as imaginative circumstances. He also uses science to speculate about the unknown.
The book is also seen as a social commentary on the changing socio-political futures of humanity, even as the continent of Europe went through a transition from an agrarian to an industrial society. It is interesting to note that the works of Wells later came to be advanced in the late 20th century by a futuristic writer known as Alvin Toffer, whose book; The Third Wave gave an analysis of the global effects of societies. This was in regard to the changeover that humanity went through from the agrarian and industrial foundations to up-and-coming hi-tech infrastructures that are the order of the day in this generation.
When examining “The Time Traveler” from the lens of the history of science as well as through literary analysis, it becomes evident that the incredible issue of time travel is used to understand technology, nature and the ‘modern’ human conditions. As he writes from the 19th century, Wells lays a lot of emphasis over the control of nature through the expansion of advancements. All in all, Wells holds out some hope for love in humanity, by asserting that the virtue of love can transcend time as well as lessen the inevitability of unavoidable death. Additionally, it is worth noting that advancements in science and technology require transcending a number of traditions, ideals and techniques of the past, since the future evolves with its own new paradigms, which are appropriate to each successive phase of human and technological development.
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