Few advancements in human history have made more impact on our modern world than the industrial revolution. Coupled with this leap in industry, imperialism defined the economic political and social structure across the globe. Essentially the industrial revolution defined the means, while imperialism dictated who would have eventual control. H.G Wells explores both imperialism and the industrial revolution by taking them to extremes, and through his satire reflects the specific flaws of both processes as they changed the world around him.
H.G Wells himself was a left wing socialist. Socialism essentially commands an abolition of class structure and a "collective ownership of the means of production" (Wikipedia, Socialism). Wells interest in class structure, the role and consequences of it are reflected in The Time Machine which is a satire of the industrial revolution that was re-defining western social and economic structures at the time. By setting the novel far into the future, Wells is able to exaggerate and subvert the relationship and development between the working class maintaining the industrial revolution, and the upper, intellectual classes that are benefiting from it.
The Time Traveler, the main character of The Time Machine, travels far into the future and finds a peaceful and seemingly utopian race, the Eloi' being preyed upon by a savage race that essentially maintains the existence of the Eloi, the Morlocks'. Both the Eloi and Morlocks are representations of specific classes within social structure.
The Eloi represent the upper, intellectual class of the turn of the 19th century. The Time Traveler theorizes that they may have been the favored aristocracy at some point, with the Morlocks as their mechanical servants, the working class that supports them (Wells, 1895, p.70). The Eloi are further described by the Time Traveler as having decayed to a: "mere beautiful futility" (Wells, 1895, p.70).
Wells, by using this representation, subverts class relationships, while retaining the essentials of class structure. The upper class' (Eloi) are becoming exploited by the working class (Morlocks). The ruling intellectual class is literally reduced to food in the future. Wells is attacking the pride and arrogance displayed by those who advocate the industrial revolution, especially those who position themselves on the top of it. They will eventually become weak and unintelligent. The desire for progress within a class structure ultimately becomes the device through which the accepted social and economic structures become distorted.
By distorting class relations in the future, while still retaining class structure, Wells provides a reflection on the limitations of a class based society by predicting its eventual decay. A society that is built upon a working class will eventually fall prey to it, while that same working class will degenerate into a savage form, literally sustained by the elite.
Wells representations are also described in literal terms, with the Eloi living above ground, and the Morlocks being subterranean creatures (Wells, 1895, p.70). Wells directly describes the dynamic between the working class and the upper class using the literal position:
"Ages ago, thousands of generations ago, Man had thrust his brother out of ease, and the sunshine. And now that brother was coming back changed!" (Wells, 1895, p.70).
Wells is referring here to the rise of a ruling elite and the lower working class that has come back'.
The Eloi, and Morlocks are further presented as sub species of the human race (Wells 1895, p.56). The evolution of humankind into the two distinct species along class structures that where present during the end of the 19th century points to the inevitability of the decay of the particular social system. This correlates with Wells socialist views on society. If society remains as it is, we will eventually become the Eloi and Morlocks.
The notion of imperialism is...
Bibliography: Socialism. (2006, August 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:45, August 18, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Socialism&oldid=70336025.
Wells H. G. 1895, The Time Machine, New York: Bantam Dell
Wells H. G. 1898, The War of the Worlds, New York: Bantam Dell
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