The Time Machine
by H.G. Wells
The Time Machine Theme of Science
Science in The Time Machine isn't just about making awesome machines that travel through time. (For more about awesome machines, check out "Themes: Technology and Modernization.") Rather, science is about a way of thinking. You start with an observation, come up with a theory, test that theory, and repeat as necessary until you're reasonably sure you have the right answer. (Or until your funding runs out. But since our protagonist is a gentleman-scientist, he doesn't need to worry about this.) There's a lot of science in this book, since our protagonist is a scientist, dealing with scientific things in a scientific manner. Some interesting things come up when we look closely at the science in the book. The most important being that science involves being wrong a lot. That's all part of getting closer to the truth.
Questions About Science
- What role does skepticism play in science? For instance, the Medical Man is skeptical of time travel – but is his skepticism part of the scientific method (the kind that tests out a theory to see if there might be a better solution)? Or is his skepticism anti-science?
- What experiments does the Time Traveller carry out in the future? What sort of experiments does he talk about doing? Related to that, what sort of tools do you think he takes with him when he decides to use the Time Machine again at the end of the book?
- Does science help the Time Traveller do the right thing? Are there times when science seems to get in his way?
- Is science presented as something that makes us human in this novel? (You could compare how scientific the Eloi and the Morlocks seem in comparison to the Time Traveller.)
Chew on This
The Time Machine argues that science is not unemotional – it involves feelings and thoughts that aren't purely logical.
The Time Traveller is a believable narrator precisely because he is so often wrong and willing to admit it.