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
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.
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.