“Oh wow, you are blessing us with a second ‘Book of the Week’?” I hear you praise. Yes reader, I feel I need to make up for my sporadic (and by that I mean pretty much not at all) posting recently. Plus, I just finished this book and wanted to share with you my thoughts.
Hollywood owes a great deal to H.G. Wells’s classic ‘The Time Machine’. It has been the inspiration of works such as ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Planet of the Apes’, and even ‘Men In Black III’. Wells was a pioneer of the concept of Time Travel and used his writing to bring it into the mainstream consciousness.
The story goes that an unnamed time traveller goes to the year 802,701 AD and discovers than humans are the shared ancestor to two new species: the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi, the time traveller finds out, were the ruling classes. They are small, fair, beautiful, kind yet also very weak and stupid. The Murlocks were the working classes who now live underground. They are hairy and scary and speak only in grunts and screams. The time traveller spends his time with the Eloi as they look the most human and therefore he feels he can connect with them better. Yet, when he learns more about the Murlocks, he realises that he was unfair to judge them on their appearances as they are in fact closer to the humans the time traveller is used to. They may look like monsters, but they are intelligent and resourceful, and they are strongly family-orientated and hard-working. The time traveller then travels back to current day to tell his friends about his discoveries.
When I first picked up my copy of ‘The Time Machine’ I did not expect it to spark a deep conversation around class issues. A great deal of SciFi texts and films now are more focused on their special-effects, action scenes, and jamming in as many Pop-Culture references as possible instead of aiming to tackle bigger issues that society faces. In Britain today we do still have somewhat of a class structure, however nowadays it is more nuanced, less rigid and more allowing for social mobility. In 1895, when the text was published, ideas about welfare had only really been born. Before this time, the poor man was poor because he is lazy, or he is stupid, or he simply was not a good enough Christian. It was not because the nature of capitalism predisposes certain marginalised groups in society to be able to earn less money than others. Wells’s use of his notability in society to spread important messages regarding class certainly aided bringing the cause to the public’s attention and may have helped in the establishment of welfare and possibly even the free healthcare we benefit from in the UK. It is only a short book but it is packed full of so much whimsy and adventure, and I recommend it to anyone looking to liven up a rainy afternoon.
Let me know in the comments what you thought of this text, I would love to hear! Also, let me know in the comments below what book you would like me to cover next.
Lots of love from Evie x