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Eat or Be Eaten: H.G. Wells’ Time Machine.

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1 Eat or Be Eaten: H.G. Wells’ Time Machine

2 Kathryn Hume: Professor from Penn State University
She specializes in contemporary fiction She has written a number of books and innumerable amounts of articles and literary criticisms.


4 Just as time travel is overlooked by those within the book at first, so is the “comprehensive functions of oral fantasies in the Time Machine”(Hume 202). Comprehensive functions are the fourth dimension of the text, the other three being entropy, devolution, and utopian satire These pull the entire text together They connect the three time frames: Victorian England, Realm of the Sphinx and the Terminal Beach

5 This was Wells’ first scientific romance to get to a canonical level
There is much hidden within the text of the book, the main surface story is only the tip of the iceberg. Hume wants to start with exploring the symbolism behind the public ideologies of power, size and gender, then will move onto comparing the two future worlds to Victorian England

6 Ideological Assumptions
Section 1: Ideological Assumptions Ideology: “the unexamined assumptions as to what is natural and inevitable and hence unchangeable” (Hume 203). The values of power, body size, and gender are so closely intertwined that pulling them apart is nearly impossible to do and study them individually, however in this passage Hume attempts to do just that.

7 Hume takes the reader on a journey, imagining the reader to be a British soldier
Living in the nineteenth century, white, male, nominally Christian, and well equipped You march into another country lacking these things and take whatever you wish; cheap labor, land, raw material, or valuables. The “inferior” race has no choice but to let you for their technology is no match for yours. This is how the Traveller looks at the aliens of the future. “His strength, technological know-how, and culture elevate him in his own mind” (Hume 203).

8 “He sees himself as having the right to whatever he wants, and cherishes himself for being the only ‘real’ human and therefore the only creature with rights” (Hume 204). A portion of these thoughts come from his size and physical power, size has permitted him to feel superior to them, just the same as a British man would with members of a shorter race. The Traveller admires the ruins from the prior civilization, not questioning why they were built or how, but rather just because they are big

9 The third element Hume writes about is gender
The Traveller almost immediately feminizes the Eloi and this is another prop on which he pulls himself up better than they. Every description of the Eloi get more and more feminine as the book goes on To Wells manliness and size prove to be the way to determine who is better, and this is found in his other books as well

10 Eat or be eaten: term which stems from political and economic sources of power.
The Wells’ work has evidence of cannibalism and the notion of humans being fatted food for a superior group. Examples: the aliens in The War of the Worlds, the Morlocks eating the Eloi, the crabs and centipedes in the New Review version of The Time Machine, and the Sphinx which invites the time traveler inside of it. Oral fantasies sometimes take the forms of engulfment: one can be overwhelmed, drowned, swallowed by darkness, or rendered unconscious.

11 The protagonist faces engulfment of body and mind
The protagonist faces engulfment of body and mind. When he returns to his own time, he responds by eating something. The time traveler is swallowed up by time in the end of the story. Humanity dies away in the future as communism takes control. This, apparently, drained the human brain to become that of an animal. The explicit reason given for degeneration is Darwinian.

12 Gender is symbolic within the story.
Male: culture, light, the Sun, law, reason, consciousness, the right hand, land, ruler ship. Female: chaos, darkness, the Moon, intuition, feeling, the left hand, water, unconscious. Eloi: sunlight, ruler ship, happiness, beauty, absence of poverty, uninterrupted leisure, yet weak and frail. Morlocks: sinister, powerful, predatory aggression, masculine darkness. Both the Eloi and the Morlocks appear to be feminized in ways that render them less than masterful.

13 The critic believes that when reading The Time Machine, the reader focus is on biological or social systems? The critic points out that Wells’ presents an interesting argument as to whether the Eloi and Morlocks will be able to evolve or not. The critic states that Wells’ offers no solution to the possibility of both biological and social conditions improving.

14 The critic believes Well’s has disguised the importance and dangers of an environment without competition. The critic summaries the last chapters of The Time Machine as desolation and despair. The critic believes Wells’ has amplified and elaborated basic ideologies which affect the plot, including the disappearing of mankind.

15 The critic notes that Wells’ projects a decline in social structure.
The critic believes the return of the repressed is important to the dynamics of this tale. He even states that the Time Traveller is somewhat responsible for the limited vision and rendered alternatives of civilization.

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