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The Time Machine

The Time Machine

by H.G. Wells

Technology and Modernization Quotes

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Quote #4

I have thought since how particularly ill-equipped I was for such an experience. When I had started with the Time Machine, I had started with the absurd assumption that the men of the Future would certainly be infinitely ahead of ourselves in all their appliances. (6.10)

The Time Traveller assumes that technology will keep getting better and better. It's like he's never heard of the Dark Ages and doesn't understand that technological advances can be lost. This assumption that technology will keep getting better is very much like the assumption that human life will keep getting better. Wells is teaching the reader that progress isn't a given by showing his protagonist learn that very lesson.

Quote #5

In addition, the heel of one of my shoes was loose, and a nail was working through the sole – they were comfortable old shoes I wore about indoors – so that I was lame. (7.4)

Here's a technology that we normally don't think of as technology: shoes! Usually we only notice technology like this when (as here) something goes wrong. Again, the Time Traveller is badly prepared for this trip because he doesn't have the right equipment. (Wells actually wrote a pamphlet titled "The Misery of Boots" (which is all about how bad-quality boots make people miserable – and that it doesn't have to be that way.)

Quote #6

The material of the Palace proved on examination to be indeed porcelain, and along the face of it I saw an inscription in some unknown character. I thought, rather foolishly, that Weena might help me to interpret this, but I only learned that the bare idea of writing had never entered her head. (8.2)

Writing is one of the many technologies that the Eloi have lost. Here again we see how technology becomes noticeable when it fails (neither the Time Traveller nor Weena can read this writing). It's kind of like when we read an older book, like this one, versus a more recent one: when the reading is more difficult, we become more conscious of the work that this sort of technology requires.

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