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The Time Machine

The Time Machine

by H.G. Wells

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How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"For instance, here is a portrait of a man at eight years old, another at fifteen, another at seventeen, another at twenty-three, and so on. All these are evidently sections, as it were, Three-Dimensional representations of his Four-Dimensioned being, which is a fixed and unalterable thing." (1.17)

While we think of change relying on things being temporary, here the Time Traveller is trying to convince us of exactly the opposite: that a four-dimensional being is "a fixed and unalterable thing." In other words, a man doesn't really change as he gets older – he just becomes what he always was going to become. (So what we see when we look at him is only a temporary layer on top of his permanent self.)

Quote #2

What if cruelty had grown into a common passion? What if in this interval the race had lost its manliness, and had developed into something inhuman, unsympathetic, and overwhelmingly powerful? (3.10)

For the second-time reader, there's irony here, since we know the Time Traveller is going to find exactly the opposite – that people in the future have become overwhelmingly weak. But no matter how people change, here the Time Traveller starts the ball rolling on what will be a major issue with his adventure: time changes all things, and there's no guarantee that the descendants of humanity will still be recognizably human.

Quote #3

I noticed for the first time how warm the air was. (3.13)

This is such a small change that it's easy to miss, and might not seem so meaningful to us. So it's warm – that's not really newsworthy, is it? Well, it kind of is: the Time Traveller is dealing with a future where the basic facts of life – like the weather near London – have totally changed. And they will continue to change, so that by the last chapters, the air has become cold and rarified.

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