The Time Machine


H. G. Wells

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The Time Machine: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

The Time Traveller hurtles through time for a while before he realizes that he is moving forward instead of backwards towards his own era. As he moves, he realizes that the earth’s revolutions are slowing, until finally the sun ceases to set and return and the earth is in perpetual twilight. The Time Traveller slows the machine until it comes to rest on a desolate beach, where he notices that the sun has become enormous and red and the air is cold and very thin.
The passages that describe time travel set up a direct parallel between human history and natural history. The differences between the Time Traveller and the Eloi/Morlocks encourage readers to think about how humans evolve over time, while the passages that describe the changing landscape and the changing sky as seen through time travel show the universe changing in tandem. This shows Wells’ conviction that humans have a relatively minor role in natural processes.
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The Time Traveller hears a harsh cry and sees a white animal in the sky that looks like a huge butterfly. Then he notices that one of the nearby rocks is moving, and it appears to be a crab as large as a table. The Time Traveller nervously seats himself on the time machine when he feels something brush his face—it’s the antennae of another crab. Before it can claw him he pulls the lever further into the future.
The sense of danger and doom grows greater and greater the farther the Time Traveller feels from a human presence. The Eloi were at least close enough to humans to feel sympathy—with the giant crabs, the Time Traveller simply wants to be far away.
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Inching into the future, the Time Traveller is “drawn on by the mystery of the earth’s fate, watching with a strange fascination the sun grow larger and duller in the westward sky and the life of the old earth ebb away.” The earth gets colder, the sun grows larger, and finally he reaches a point in time where algae on the rocks is the only sign of life. An eclipse of the sun begins, and the Time Traveller remarks on the silence and darkness of the world. The Time Traveller begins to feel horror, which is compounded by the sight of a moving tentacled creature. He places himself back in the time machine, pulls the lever, and faints.
Despite his fear of the nonhuman world, the Time Traveller presses on because of his characteristic curiosity about the fate of the world. As he moves farther into the future it becomes irrelevant to look for signs of humanlike creatures, so he searches for signs of any life at all. This emphasizes that humans are, in the end, not dissimilar from algae when viewed in the scheme of the universe.
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