You see I had always anticipated that the people of the year Eight Hundred and Two Thousand odd would be incredibly in front of us in knowledge, art, and everything. Then one of them suddenly asked me a question that showed him to be on the intellectual level of one of our five-year-old children (83).
The Time Traveller comments on a common misconception that we all share - that the future does not necessarily mean progress. In fact, the human species appears to have gone down the opposite path of technological evolution insead of being "incredibly in front of us." People have conquered nature and society; they have nothing left to do but revert back to the mentality of five-year-old children. "Knowledge, art, and everything" is lacking when people are not faced with the challenges of taming the environment, nature, and society.
There were no hedges, no signs of proprietary rights, no evidences of agriculture; the whole earth had become a garden (90).
Interestingly, this quote makes a number of important allusions. The most evident is the lack of individuality and property ownership since there were "no hedges, no signs of proprietary rights." Humans apparently have no need to work anymore to find food, as there are "no evidences of agriculture." Humans have conquered the natural world so spectacularly that they have tamed the entire earth into a garden growing fresh food for them to eat whenever they need. However, this domination of the earth also proved to be the downfall of the human race because there are no further challenges to test human intelligence, strength, or technology.
Another important aspect is that of evolution. Humans have transformed the world and directed the evolution of the earth and themselves. Strangely, though, this appears to have brought them to a standstill and degeneration. It appears as though "the whole earth had become a garden" much like that described in the Biblical story of creation - the earth had been transformed into Eden by humans in The Time Machine.
Under the new conditions of perfect comfort and security, that restless energy, that with us is strength, would become weakness (92).
As with the reverse of technological evolution, the Time Traveller notices that biological de-evolution has occured as well. "That restless energy, that with us is strength" is no longer utilized, nor is it necessary. People are no longer faced with the challenges that individuals during Victorian (and modern) times faced. Without these challenges, strifes, and problems in human beings' lives, people are not motivated to progress intellectually or physically. They simply have no need. Time takes its toll on their comfortable lives as they dilapidate into childish versions of our current conception of a human.
Very simple was my explanation, and plausible enough - as most wrong theories are (93)!
After trying to comprehend the lifestyles of the Eloi, the Time Traveller concludes that they have developed into a degenerated communist society with no need for intellectual development, art, war, or strength; however, he also acknowledges that his "very simple" explanation was wrong "as most theories are." He supports the common scientific method that a scientist should work to prove a theory wrong; a theory can only be proved right after every possible attempt to prove it wrong fails. This was a developing method during the Victorian era that has become common amongst prominent scientists, technologists, and students of the sciences today. It also challenges us to be skeptical of new ideas no matter how perfect they seem. Wells makes it evident that skepticism is a healthy way to approach problems, theories, and knowledge.
I had made myself the most complicated and the most hopeless trap that ever a man devised (99).
In an ironic set of circumstances, the Time Traveller loses his time machine. He sought so much for travelling to the future that he forgot to take careful considerations so that he could return to the present. He traps himself in a land, time, and society that he doesn't belong to and has no chance of escape unless he finds the machine that brought him into this trap of time.
Even now, does not an Eastend worker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the earth (110)?
The Time Traveller compares the Morlocks with the "Eastend worker" living in poverty. In his theory, he believes the Morlocks descended from the lower class laborers forced to work in factories, mines, and other dark, toilsome jobs. The Eloi have the ability to travel around the "natural surface of the earth" because they originated from the upper class. The Time Traveller postulates that upper class individuals relied on the the lower class to provide for them and had plenty of free time to enjoy activities and pleasures on the surface of earth while the lower class toiled further and further below earth until they became a divided species. This interesting theory provides both allusions to evolution in the seperation of the human species and arguments revolving around the separation of classes.
I thought of the great precessional cycle that the pole of the earth describes. Only forty times had that silent revolution occurred during all the years that I had traversed. And during these few revolutions all the activity, all the traditions, the complex organizations, the nations, languages, literatures, aspirations, even the mere memory of Man as I knew him, had been swept out of existence (123).
Comparing the enormous changes of humanity and life on earth, along with the drastic evolution of nature, the Time Traveller notes the insignificance of the span of human life in the overall scheme of the Universe. "Traditions, the complex organizations, the nations, languages, literatures, aspirations, even the mere memory of Man" hardly existed during the few revolutions of the earth's pole. All the time and effort that it took for humans to develop those facets of culture and society mean almost nothing to the revolution of the earth and fluxes of the galaxy.
He, I know - for the the question had been discussed among us long before the Time Machine was made - thought but cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the growing pile of civilization only a foolish heaping that must be inevitably fall back upon and destroy its makers in the end (155).
The Time Traveller proved this idea that civilization only grows to its own destruction by visiting the future. All the advancements that were made actually brought society closer to collapse - "the growing pile of civilization only a foolish heaping." Each step to control the environment and livelihood of humans also meant another challenge that human beings no longer had to face. This naturally means that humans have less and less to worry about; because of this, humans no longer need the strict and enormous construction of organization, technology, languages, and governments when they have conquered all that civilization was meant to overcome.
All quotes were taken from the Broadview edition of The Time Machine, as referenced in "Resources and Links" below.