The Time Machine

The Time Machine Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Weena and the Time Traveller reach the Palace of Green Porcelain, they realize that it is dilapidated. It’s immediately clear that the building was once a museum, as there are skeletons of extinct creatures on display. The Time Traveller finds some display cases that seem to be airtight, since their contents are so well preserved. Exploring other galleries in the building, the Time Traveller finds minerals and machines, stirring his imagination for how he could use such materials against the Morlocks.
A great irony of this section is that the Time Traveller, who once believed he would travel to the future to see the pinnacle of achievement and intelligence, has to resort to raiding a museum for extinct technologies from his own era in order to escape a future he finds disappointing and frightening. This is another moment, too, of Wells putting into perspective the brevity of a lifetime, and even of the human race itself: human technologies are in a natural history museum that itself has been forgotten by history.
Themes
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
In the gallery with the machines, Weena’s fear makes the Time Traveller realize that the floor slopes into darkness. In the dark corners there is much less dust, which is a sign of the presence of Morlocks. The Time Traveller breaks a lever off of a machine to use as a weapon, and imagines bashing in a Morlock’s skull. The impulse disturbs him a little, but he cannot muster any compassion for them.
The Time Traveller, who prides himself on his intelligence and rationality, finds the impulse towards violence stirred within him by the Morlocks. This sets up, in a way, a parallel between the Time Traveller and the Morlocks—the Morlocks have become cannibals (which disgusts the Time Traveller), but the Time Traveller himself cannot see in the Morlocks enough humanity to disrupt his own violent impulses.
Themes
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
Upstairs, the Time Traveller finds a gallery of technical chemistry where there is a well-preserved box of matches under glass, as well as a jar of camphor. Finding these light sources gives the Time Traveller hope for retrieving his time machine, though he passes the rest of the day without finding any more useful implements.
Once again, technologies made simply for illumination are weaponized, and the absurdity of having to retrieve matches from an ancient, airtight museum case shows just how much human development has decayed.
Themes
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon