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titleThe Man Himself

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titlePrevious Editions of The Time Machine


Though The Time Machine as we know it was published in 1895 through Heineman, several earlier incarnations of the time traveling story existed and were included in various publications. The first time traveling story written by Wells was the Chronic Argonauts, printed in several installments between April and June, 1888. In this unfinished version, Dr. Nebogipfel constructs a time machine in the previously abandoned estate known as Manse to the inhabitants of the village Llyddwdd. His antisocial behavior and odd noises and lights originating from his house raises suspicion in the villagers and they gather to confront him at his home, when he activates the Time Machine and disappears along with the local reverend Cook.

 Another published manifestation of the tale appeared several years later in the National Observer in 1894. This version begins similarly to The Time Machine in that the Time Traveller, referred to in this account as the Philosophical Inventor, is lecturing his dinner guests on his theories of the spatial three dimensions and the temporal fourth dimension. After one of the guests mentions the Time Machine, the Philosophical Inventor recounts the experience of time travel and leads them to the Time Machine, where he details his trip to the year 12,203. The story then follows a similar vein to The Time Machine where the protagonist meets with the frivolous Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks before returning back to his time period. The ending of this version places more speculation onto the split of humanity into the Morlocks and Eloi, with the Philosophical Inventor claiming the Eloi to be the descendants of the aristocratic leisure class of his contemporaries and the Morlocks the downtrodden labor class. The National Observer version of The Time Machine also remained unfinished as Wells left the paper before publishing an ending.

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The Time Traveller: the main character in this story and a scientist. He has invented a time machine and takes it forward into the future to find what has become of mankind.  He invites several dinner guests to the first previewing of his invention, the Time Machine, and then another set of guests to his homecoming.  He eventually disappears at the end of the novella, leading the reader and the Narrator to wonder what happened to him.

Weena: one of the Eloi that the Time Traveller gets to know and love. He initially saves her from drowning, causing her to follow him like a puppy for the rest of the time he is there. She dies in the fire that the Traveller created in defense of the Morlocks.  She is different from the other Eloi in that she cries (Chapter 5) and expresses her gratitude by giving him flowers.  Yet, she is also very similar to the other Eloi in that she is not very smart, tires easily, and has a childish admiration for fire.  There is some debate on whether the love between the Traveller and Weena is romantic or paternal.  Both exchange kisses and hugs, but as the Traveller consistently refers to her as a child, the relationship is considered paternal.

The Morlocks: ape-like creatures that live underground and are essentially the "working-class." They are nocturnal and breed the Eloi, the "upper-class", for food.  They are called by the Traveller: 

  • Human spider (Chapter 5)
  • New vermin (Chapter 6)
  • Nauseatingly inhuman (Chapter 6)
  • Human rats (Chapter 9)
  • Damned souls (Chapter 9)

Yet, even though he calls them such, he also has a little smidgen of praise to give them: "[they] retained...more initiative" and even "some little thought outside habit" (Chapter 10).  Compared to the Eloi who are not only lazy, but idiotic.  His choice words for them are:

  • Very beautiful and graceful (3.14)
  • Hectic beauty (3.14)
  • Fragile thing (4.1)
  • Pretty little people (4.2)
  • Dresden-china type of prettiness (4.3)

Critics have discussed where the two species' names came from and one has come up with the notion that they came from the Bible.  Morlock sounds a lot like Moloch, which is the name of a Phoenician god associated with child sacrifice in the Bible.  "Mors" is also a Latin root for "death."  Then, Eloi sounds a lot like Elohim, which is a Hebrew word for god.  Second, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus yells out from the cross, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?"  Translated as: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  This makes it seem as though the Eloi are also named after a god.

The Narrator: this character is used as a stand-in for the reader. Very unobtrusive and isn't seen from the 3rd or 4th chapter on until the end of the book. Is the only one of the dinner guests to believe in the Time Traveller and is one of the Traveller's "more constant guests". 

There is speculation that the Narrator actually may have cause the continued disappearance of the Time Traveller, or, possibly, his death.  In Chapter 12, the Narrator goes in to look at the machine by himself.  He touches a lever and the machine sways.  It startles him and reminds him of his childhood days when he was told not to meddle.  Could it be that the Narrator somehow tampered with the Time Machine causing it to malfunction?  Is that the reason for the Time Traveller not being able to return?

The Dinner Guests: several of them are invited to two separate dinners: pre- and post-time traveling. They are the epitome of the upper class and what the Time Traveller sees as becoming the Eloi. 

Amongst the first dinner guests are: Filby, the Psychologist, a very young man, the Provincial Mayor, the Medical Man, and the Narrator.  The ones that were invited to the second dinner were: the Medical Man (the Doctor), the Editor of a well-known daily paper, the Journalist, the Psychologist, the Silent Man, and the Narrator.  The only other character that seems to be missing (in order to represent all of society) is a man of religion.  Throughout the book, there is no mention of religion, so it seems plausible to assume that since Wells was not a religious man, he didn't find it necessary to include any sort of religion in the Time Traveller's story nor have a man of religion present when he told the story.  Wells was a man of science and he used science to explain everything, which is why he only had men of science present at the dinner.  Some were of science: the Medical Man and the Psychologist.  Some were ignorant of science: the Provincial Mayor. Then some were hostile towards it: Filby, the Editor, and the Journalist.  Yet there were two other figures that were odd balls at the table: the Very Young Man and the Silent Man.  The Very Young Man was the one that wanted use the Time Machine to go back in time and learn from people of influence, although the Time Traveller wanted nothing, it seemed, to do with the past.  Yet, there is only a single mention of the Silent Man and that is to tell the reader that he didn't say anything during or after the story.  What is the purpose of these two men?  Do they represent a character further on in the story or are they the people who do not make it into the future?
    

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                         Click here for a list of Wells' works:  http://www.iblist.com/author165.htm

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