Social Class Conflict in H.G. Wells Novel The Time Machine
The novel “Time Machine “written by one Of the renowned writers H.G. Wells gives us the idea of social differences and social conflict between the classes which must have been present in Britain at the time when the novel was written. There were extreme differences among rich and poor at that time. It was because of splitting up of the British society into three divisions which were the higher class, the middle class and lower class. This represented the Victorian English Period when the industrialism was at its peak. “The Upper Class was by inheritance a Royal Class” (‘Victorian society social structure. Various classes and their lives,’ 2015). They were the rich persons who were getting the best education and were able to fulfil their every demand and were living a ravishing life. In short, they were having the upper hand in everything. In contrast, the lower class had to face the atrocities of the upper class who were taking advantage of the lower class. They were the ones who had to struggle in finding food sometimes. Sometimes they had to sleep on the roads.
The conditions of these people were so adverse. Even though the beginning of The Industrial Revolution had favoured many of the Victorian middle-class society who got more job opportunities and good education for their children (‘Victorian society social structure. Various classes and their lives,’ 2015). But the effect of industrialism on the lower class was poor. They were badly exploited. However, the upper class lived a ravishing life. The lower classes had to face a lot of struggle. They used to work mostly underground, had to work a full day. They were carrying the load of the upper class’s ravishing lives on their heads. The ‘Time Machine’ is one of the H.G.Wells best novels in which these social differences and confliction between the classes are very well highlighted.
In the novel, two societies were being portrayed which were Eloi and the Morlocks. There were huge social differences among them. Eloi were the beautiful creatures which were the descendents of the Victorian England’s aristocracy. However the near perfect environment around them had made them so weak and lazy. They lacked sufficient intelligence which was required to survive in the world. However, Morlocks which were the descendents of the working class were the one who were living underground but were strong enough. Eloi were the dinner for these creatures however they coul not see during the daylight because they were living in the underground for so long and became adapted to it. According to Wells, the social differences among the two groups of the Victorian England had led to the development of two completlely distinct species. Both of these species were having the features which in one or the other were disadvantageous to them.
The rich people always occupy the finest place to live, whereas poor people have to live in impoverished lands. This feature of the Capitalism which leads to social inequality: (‘Class Conflict in the Time Machine – 1110 Words | Critical Writing Example,’ n.d.) is explained throughout the novel. Capitalism involves benefit of the wealthy and abuse of the poor and the novel very well explains that if this carries on for many years, in the future we will have a different kind of world where there were two extremely different societies where one class will feed on the other just like Morlocks feeds on the Eloi.
In the novel, the Eloi were dependent on the Morlocks for their works. The author on his interaction with the Eloi had not seen them doing any daily work. Thus the dependence of the Eloi on the Morlocks for their basic needs is parallel to time during the industrial revolution when most of the upper-class persons were dependent on the lower class which were mostly laboured involved in the construction of the beautiful palaces of these rich people in which they live. Because of the exploitation which was faced by these labourers, it may happen that the lower class individuals will get the feeling of revenge against the upper class leading to class conflict. In the movie, because of the exploitation faced by the Morlocks from several years, they revenged against the Eloi by killing them for food. In the novel, just like the upper class had used the lower class for their needs in the past, however in the future the descendants of the lower class, Morlocks were completing the basic survival needs of the Eloi only to kill them in order to satisfy their hunger.
Morlocks according to H.G. Wells the Morlocks acquired ‘class consciousness’ which implies that the lower class gained the conscious that they were being exploited and suppressed by the upper class and thus they came in unity to drop them out of the throne of the ruling class (GradeSaver,2019). Thus displaying the erroneous effect of the social difference among the societies in past Victorian England. This is the central theme of the novel in which the author had addressed the Victorian England’s upper class that if they will continue with their exploitation on the poor people, a time will come when the sufferings and bitterness which was developed in the lower class as a result of exploitation will lead to killing of the upper class and the world will become a battle of the both the societies. In this way, Wells had been able to express his concern towards the futuristic society by depicting the conflicts which may occur because of these social differences.
In another incident, the consequences of conflicts in society were shown. When the Time Traveller had lost his Time Machine, he realized that the Eloi were not at all interested in his machine because they were too lazy and probably weak to carry the machine by themselves. It was the Morlocks who stole the machine because they were tough and living in underground for so many years had made them realize the importance of that machine in their lives but the Eloi since they were not enganged in any of the daily work,they were deprived of the creativity.These were the social differences beteen these two groups. Stealing of the Time machine by the Morlocks suggested the needs of the Morlocks. The Morlocks were so in desperation to take possession of that machine. When the time traveller came to take away his machine, ultimately fight began between the Morlocks and the Time Traveller.
This desperation of the machine ultimately was the reason for their death. The time traveller used a few matchsticks which accidentally caused the death of the group of Morlocks. In Victorian England, the lower class had to struggle a lot for their survival and their basic needs while the wealth of the upper class had made them enjoy their lives rather than struggling for the basic necessities. The lower class had to fight for the tiniest necessity such as food and a decent place to live to their moral rights in the society. The author highlights the struggle for survival especially for the lower social class in the society. The ultimate death of the Morlocks was the depiction of class conflict where Morlocks represents Victorian England’s lower class who worked continuously and hard despite the difficulties and the hardships which came in their way. But in return, they did not get anything. They remained poor throughout their life and even died without accomplishing their needs for them as well as their children. Their lives were like prickles as compared to the lives of the upper-class people which were like roses.
At the time when this novel was written there was clear distinction between the upper class and the lower class. The exploitation which was faced by the lower class people was extreme,While writing the novel the author might be thinking about what would be the future if these social differences between the classes will continue for next so many thousand years. It was his pessimistic view which made him write this novel. Thus he gave a warning to the entire Victorian England through his novel about what would be the future of their descendants. However, the present day England is something different from which H.G wells had predicted.
Now, the people have equal opportunities as others and these opportunities and jobs does not depends on whether the person belongs to a lower class or to a upper class. The lower class is not as exploited as it was during 1850s. The present day England have a entirely different view than tthe Victorian England. The progress which had been made in the England in terms of social equality is commendable and if this continues to exist like this,the upper class of the past Victorian England (future Weak Eloi) may never be turned out to become the food of the lower class(future Morlocks).
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