Capitalism through the Lens of H.G. Wells: ‘The Time Machine’ as a Social Critique

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Updated: Dec 22, 2023
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Capitalism through the Lens of H.G. Wells: ‘The Time Machine’ as a Social Critique

This essay delves into H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” as a critical exploration of capitalist society. It examines how Wells uses the novel’s two species, the Eloi and the Morlocks, to symbolize the class divisions inherent in capitalism. The Eloi represent the leisurely upper class, living in ignorance and luxury, while the Morlocks, who toil underground, embody the exploited working class. The essay discusses how this division highlights the dependency of the capitalist bourgeoisie on the labor of the working class, and how such a system leads to moral and physical decay. It portrays the Eloi’s fragile and aimless existence as a critique of the degenerative impact of a life removed from labor and struggle, and the Morlocks’ monstrous form as a reflection of the dehumanization of the working class. The essay concludes that “The Time Machine” serves as a warning against the unchecked advancement of capitalist principles, suggesting a future where such ideologies could lead to a regression in human values and societal structures. Through this analysis, Wells’ work is presented not just as science fiction, but as a poignant critique of capitalist society and its potential consequences. Moreover, at PapersOwl, there are additional free essay samples connected to Capitalism.

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H.G. Wells’ classic science fiction novel “The Time Machine” is often lauded for its imaginative foray into the future. However, beneath its adventurous façade lies a profound critique of capitalism and its societal impacts. Through the novel’s depiction of the Eloi and the Morlocks, Wells offers a stark, symbolic examination of class division and the dehumanizing effects of a capitalist system run amok.

At the heart of the story is the Time Traveler’s journey to a distant future, where he encounters two distinct species: the Eloi and the Morlocks.

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The Eloi, delicate and childlike, live above ground in a seemingly utopian society devoid of struggle. In stark contrast, the Morlocks, brutish and sinister, dwell underground, operating machinery and sustaining the world above. This dichotomy is Wells’ vehicle for exploring the extremes of capitalism, where leisure and luxury for a few are built upon the labor and subjugation of many.

The Eloi, representing the capitalist bourgeoisie, lead lives of leisure, completely detached from the means of production and the realities of labor. Their existence, dependent on the Morlocks, mirrors the capitalist dependency on the working class. The Morlocks, on the other hand, embody the proletariat, toiling away in darkness to maintain the lifestyle of the Eloi. This relationship is a dark twist on the capitalist mode of production, where those who work the hardest reap the least benefits.

Furthermore, Wells’ portrayal of the Eloi and Morlocks challenges the supposed utopia of a capitalist future. The Eloi, despite their carefree existence, are intellectually stagnant and physically frail, suggesting the degenerative effects of a life devoid of purpose and struggle. The Morlocks, though powerful, are dehumanized and monstrous, reflecting the degrading nature of their underground labor. Wells presents a future where capitalism has not only entrenched class divisions but also led to the physical and moral decay of humanity.

Moreover, “The Time Machine” can be read as a warning against the unchecked progression of capitalist ideals. The novel suggests that a future dominated by capitalist ideology could lead to a regression in human values and societal structures. The Time Traveler’s horror at the fate of humanity serves as a cautionary tale, urging readers to consider the long-term consequences of societal inequality and exploitation.

In conclusion, “The Time Machine” is much more than a tale of time travel and futuristic adventure. It is a critical commentary on the capitalist system, exploring the potential ramifications of extreme class divisions and the commodification of human labor. Wells uses the stark contrast between the Eloi and the Morlocks to illustrate the dehumanizing effects of capitalism on both the oppressors and the oppressed. His portrayal of a future where humanity is split into two divergent species serves as a powerful metaphor for the destructive potential of a society driven by capitalist ideology. The novel remains relevant today as a compelling critique of capitalism and a reminder of the need for a more equitable and humane societal structure.

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Capitalism Through the Lens of H.G. Wells: 'The Time Machine' as a Social Critique. (2023, Dec 22). Retrieved from