The Time Machine

The Time Machin by H.G Wells

1.Discuss the ways in which Darwinian evolutionary theory influenced the emergence of social Darwinism. What did this social issue have to do with H.G Wells writing The Time Machine?

Asked by
Last updated by Aslan
Answers 1
Add Yours

One of the major social theories of the late 19th-century adapted Charles Darwin's theories on evolution to justify 19th-century social stratification between the rich and poor. In "Origin of the Species," Darwin argued that different environments encouraged the reproduction of those species whose varying traits best suited them to survive; their offspring, in turn, would be better adapted for the new environment, as would their offspring, and so on. Social Darwinism frequently abused this concept of "natural selection." Evolution does not lead to the "perfectibility" of any species, as is generally perceived, but to the increasing adaptability and complexity of a species. Social Darwinism ignored this idea and contended that the social environment was much like the cutthroat natural environment, and that those who succeeded were biologically destined to do so and to continue in their march to human perfection. On the flip side, those who failed had inferior traits and deserved to do so.

Wells spots the holes in this argument. In "The Time Machine," the beautiful Eloi seem, at first, to be the perfect inhabitants of an advanced age. But the Time Traveler soon discovers that the advancements of civilization have enfeebled the Eloi; without any pressing requirements for survival, they have become weak, lazy, and stupid. While their civilization has seemingly become perfect, they have become decidedly imperfect. In other words, evolution has problems in application to the world of mankind, since man changes his environment as he himself changes. Therefore, the changing environment may not always produce desirable changes in man, and Social Darwinism's argument that those who succeed in a given environment are naturally superior is not valid. Wells uses more ironies in the novel to pound home this point: the TT turns into a near-primal savage in his dealings with the Morlocks, for instance, and he finds little use from the more advanced displays in the Palace of Green Porcelain (such as the ruined literature), opting instead for a simple lever as a weapon. Though the TT is in the world of 802,701 AD, behavior and tools of prehistoric man--such as fire, his main ally against the Morlocks--are more effective; he must devolve to survive in the evolved world.