The Time Machine

Light, Darkness, and Fire Symbol Analysis

Light, Darkness, and Fire Symbol Icon

In The Time Machine, darkness is directly associated with the evil Morlocks (as they can only see in the dark), and light is associated with the benevolent Eloi, who live in the sunlight. However, as this is a novel that concerns itself with muddying easy binaries and respecting complexity, the distinction between darkness and light, or what is good and what is bad, unravels over the course of the book. For example, the fire that the Time Traveller sets in the woods is meant to bring light to the darkness, protecting the Time Traveller and Weena from danger and depravity. When the fire spreads to the whole forest, killing Weena and endangering the Time Traveller’s life, the distinctions between light and darkness, safety and danger, and good and evil break down. This breakdown resonates, too, on the level of psychology. The Time Traveller is trying desperately to understand what makes a creature human, and he tries to neatly separate out good from evil in order to believe that humans are essentially good. The Eloi and the Morlocks, though, are interdependent—the Eloi are food for the Morlocks, and the Morlocks do work for the Eloi—just as darkness and light are terms that only make sense relative to one another. Through the intertwined symbolism of darkness and light, Wells leads readers to the conclusion that good and evil are inseparable in the human psyche.

Light, Darkness, and Fire Quotes in The Time Machine

The The Time Machine quotes below all refer to the symbol of Light, Darkness, and Fire. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet Classics edition of The Time Machine published in 2014.
Chapter 5 Quotes

But gradually the truth dawned on me: that Man had not remained one species, but had differentiated into two distinct animals: that my graceful children of the Upper-world were not the sole descendants of our generation, but that this bleached, obscene, nocturnal Thing, which had flashed before me, was also heir to all the ages.

Related Characters: The Time Traveller (speaker), The Eloi, The Morlocks
Related Symbols: Light, Darkness, and Fire
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

I understood now what the beauty of the Over-world people covered. Very pleasant was their day, as pleasant as the day of the cattle in the field. Like the cattle, they knew of no enemies and provided against no needs. And their end was the same.

Related Characters: The Time Traveller (speaker), The Eloi
Related Symbols: Light, Darkness, and Fire
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Light, Darkness, and Fire Symbol Timeline in The Time Machine

The timeline below shows where the symbol Light, Darkness, and Fire appears in The Time Machine. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
Darkness descends and the Time Traveller returns from the hills to find a place to sleep.... (full context)
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...his tantrum outdoors, where he feels himself touching strange beings while he cries in the darkness. (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
When day breaks, the Time Traveller feels more rational, and he decides to find the hiding place... (full context)
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...still a presence in this society. Weena is afraid, in particular, of all kinds of darkness, and this leads the Time Traveller to observe that all of the beings seem to... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...seeking shelter from the heat, and he finds in a ruin a chamber that is dark and cool. When he enters, he sees a pair of eyes watching him. The Time... (full context)
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
The Time Traveller follows the ape into the darkness and feels around until he finds one of the wells he had observed before. He... (full context)
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
The Time Traveller returns to Weena without entering the well that day, but he continues to puzzle over the creatures until he realizes their economic significance. Before... (full context)
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...that many laborers in his era work in shadowed spaces and live without much natural light, while the rich seek estates that are more and more remote from others—the divergence along... (full context)
Chapter 6
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...of the well she is agonized and frightened. Nonetheless, he climbs down quickly into the darkness and finds a chamber built into the wall that he enters in order to rest... (full context)
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...to be able to see what it is—there are three Morlocks who immediately flee the light of the match. The Time Traveller notices that they are likely afraid of the light,... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...has a few matches left, which are his only weapon against the Morlocks. In the darkness something touches his face and picks at his clothing. When the Time Traveller shouts it... (full context)
Chapter 7
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...by the coming of the new moon, which means that the nights will be pure darkness and the surface will be wholly vulnerable to the Morlocks. (full context)
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...Traveller determines to arm himself so that he might sleep without being vulnerable in the darkness. (full context)
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...Weena, but soon realizes the distance is greater than he thought, and it is past sunset when he first glimpses the building on the horizon. Throughout the journey Weena had been... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
As darkness falls, Weena becomes frightened and tired and the Time Traveller has to carry her. He... (full context)
Chapter 8
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 9
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
The Time Traveller and Weena leave the museum just before sunset, and the Time Traveller vows to walk as far as he can through the night... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Throughout the walk, the Time Traveller has been gathering sticks as tinder for the fire he and Weena will sleep by. As they walk through the woods, though, he feels... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
For a while, the fire lights the Time Traveller’s walk and he and Weena have no need for matches. He... (full context)
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...Time Traveller decides to camp where he is for the night, since in the morning light he will have a better idea of which way to go. He gathers kindling, realizing... (full context)
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...only a moment since he closed his eyes, when the Time Traveller awakens everything is dark and the Morlocks are grabbing him. His match box is gone, and he panics, fearing... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
...the Time Traveller and are chattering nervously. Suddenly, the Time Traveller becomes aware that the darkness is becoming lighter and the Morlocks are fleeing. It is the fire that the Time... (full context)
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
...helplessness. He sits on the hillside watching them, hoping he is having a nightmare, until day breaks. (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...for Weena, but he cannot find her. He determines that she has died in the fire, and he is heartbroken but also relieved that she died without the Morlocks eating her.... (full context)
Chapter 10
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...as he enters, however, the panels close and the Time Traveller is trapped in the dark. The Morlocks begin to approach, and the Time Traveller tries to strike a match so... (full context)
Chapter 11
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
...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... (full context)