The Time Machine


H. G. Wells

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Themes and Colors
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Time Machine, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Inequality and Social Class

The Time Machine, written in Britain in 1895, is the product of an era of great anxiety about social class and economic inequality. The industrial revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had generated incredible wealth in Britain, but that wealth went almost entirely to the upper classes instead of being equally distributed to the lower-class workers whose labor was instrumental to industrial prosperity. Moreover, the economic writings of Karl Marx (who died just…

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Technology and Progress

The Time Machine opens with the Time Traveller explaining to his dinner guests the underlying scientific principles that make his invention, the time machine, possible. This immersion into mathematical concepts and scientific language is meant to give readers a taste of the intelligence, creativity, and ambition that fuel technological development. In contrast, the Eloi of the future lack language, technology, and even physical strength—they are presented as a lazy species that naps and frolics and…

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Humans, Nature, and the Universe

One of the most radical aspects of The Time Machine is that it questions the centrality of human beings to history by challenging the notion that humans will endure in their present form forever. Written about thirty-five years after the publication of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin’s seminal text on evolution, The Time Machine takes Darwin’s theory of evolution seriously and explores its possible consequences. In The Time Machine, present-day humans…

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Fear and Kindness

Throughout The Time Machine, Wells shatters several common assumptions of human thought (for example, the belief in the inevitable progress of the species, the notion that technology will make human life better, and the insistence that people are at the center of the universe and will endure forever). However, two aspects of humanity whose value Wells does not question are the experience of fear and the ability to feel kindness. These qualities are roughly…

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