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H.G Wells and the Machine in Victorian Fiction

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Presentation on theme: "H.G Wells and the Machine in Victorian Fiction"— Presentation transcript:

1 H.G Wells and the Machine in Victorian Fiction
Colin Manlove By Jessica Shafer, Grayce Word, and Ashley Gray

2 Colin Manlove Born in 1942 Literary critic with a great interest in Fantasy He was interested in works by Charles Kingsley, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Talkien. He lectured on English Literature at the University of Edinburgh until his retirement in 1993.

3 The purpose of this story is to discuss how machines have shaped not only the Victorian Age but all ages throughout our history. Colin Manlove mentioned the locomotive, threshing machine, and of course the Time Machine. The Victorian Age was definitely an age that was founded on machines and the powers that they brought to the people.

4 There was also the voice that thought the machinery brought a threat to human kind. “The idea of perfection as an inward condition of the mind and spirit is at variance with the mechanical and material civilization in esteem with us.” (Manlove 245) Some thought of the machine as possibly being the enemy of the human spirit. (Manlove 245) Colin Manlove talks about how this Victorian Age of Machinery could be thought of as a bridge between the machine and human values. (Manlove 246) You could not have one without the other and all the individual parts worked together to become a whole.

5 At the time of the writing of The Time Machine, Wells is writing at a point when machines are considered a vital point in the living of one’s everyday life. It is no wonder that Wells thought a machine could take him successfully into the future. The world of radio, electricity, and magnetism was thrilling the lives of many. (Manlove 246) The possibility of a machine making a world of Utopian bliss come true was not all that farfetched.

6 Without Wells Time Machine the world of the Eloi and the Morlocks would certainly have never been seen. When Wells is traveling on the beach with the crabs, “We may note that the journey of the Time Machine is accompanied by the progressive slowing of the sun, until it becomes stationary…” (Manlove 250) The Time Machine sends an awful warning about how technology can destroy man. “By conquering nature it renders man helpless, because he no longer has to struggle to survive…” (Manlove 250) Technology although it was very helpful in the Victorian Age, brought such a change that it made man look helpless and alone.

7 Machinery In Other Novels
Thus, while writer such as Carlyle, Mill, Macaulay, or Frederic Harrison might extol the wonders of the machine and it’s promise, and while the increased comforts and intercommunication that many Victorian poets and novelist benefited from sprang from mechanical advance, there is everywhere among the “cultured” this sense of antagonism to the progress of their age, and indeed often to science itself. (Manlove 245)

8 The bulk of the Victorian cultural elite, of course , shares Dickens’s more negative view of the machine. Its only literary home seems to be the proto-science-fictional novel, and even there (apart from a certain class of post-1871 works on the possibilities of future war between Britain and another country) it is only in Verne and Wells that we find much attention given to the machine itself. (Manlove 246)

9 In other works we have the creative surgery of Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, the mesmeric powers utilized in Poe’s “Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (1845), the electrical force of vril in Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race (1871), or the transformative properties of the chemical powder in Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). And we may note that in all these works, including those of Wells, admiration of scientific advance goes together with warning of its risks. (Manlove 146)


11 Work Cited Wells, Herbert George. “H.G. Wells and the Machine in Victorian Fiction.” Ed Stephen Arata. The Time Machine. New York: W.W.Norton,

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