The Time Machine

The Time Machine Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7-8

Chapter 7:

The TT feels hopeless in his fight against the Morlocks, whom he despises. As the moon wanes and the nights have longer periods of darkness, Weena talks about the "Dark Nights." The TT begins to understand why the Eloi fear the darkness, though he does not know what kind of "foul villainy" the Morlocks practice at night. He revises his hypothesis: while the Eloi and Morlocks may have once had a master-slave relationship, now the Morlocks are growing in power while the Eloi are fearful. He thinks about the meat he had seen the Morlocks consume, though he is not sure why the image comes into his mind.

The TT decides he will defend himself fearlessly against the Morlocks. First he must find weapons and a safe place to sleep. The only place he can think of is the Palace of Green Porcelain. He starts off the long trek with Weena. As night comes on, he gets lost and decides to rest on a hill while Weena sleeps. In the morning, they have fruit with some other Eloi, and the TT comes up with a new theory about the Morlocks: they breed the Eloi like cattle for food. He tries to think of this as just desserts for the ruling class for having lived off the working class for so long, but he cannot lose his sympathy for the human-like Eloi.

The TT comes up with a plan. First, he will find a safe shelter. Then he will use a torch as a weapon against the Morlocks. Finally, he will acquire some kind of battering-ram to break open the pedestal under the White Sphinx, where he imagines the Time Machine is still kept. He also plans to bring Weena back to his own time. He and Weena make their way to the Palace of Green Porcelain.


The TT's Victorian upper-class disgust with the poor comes out in this chapter. First, he "instinctively" loathes the Morlocks, much as someone raised in class-conscious English society would immediately react to poverty. When he figures out that the Morlocks are the true masters of the Eloi, his sympathy with the Eloi overshadows whatever ideas he may have about the rich being justly punished. The Eloi, the last vestiges of the humanity he embraces, are too much like the TT for him to revel in their defeat.

Yet the TT does acknowledge that the Morlocks' growing power is a logical progression of class tension. His idea that the Morlocks, driven by necessity, have overtaken the ruling classes is thoroughly Marxist. Wells, a Socialist for much of his life, knew Karl Marx's basic recipe for how Communism would start in societies (note that Russia did not become a Communist state until 1917, which is why the narrator at the beginning is so in wonder of the possibility of a Communist society): the working class--the proletariat-- eventually gains a "class consciousness," an awareness of themselves as oppressed, and then unites to overthrow the ruling class. While we see no evidence that the Morlocks have this class consciousness, the TT does posit that they have turned to the Eloi for food when their supply was depleted.

The TT comes up with a decidedly human plan to defeat the Morlocks, using three staples of early man: shelter (the Palace of Green Porcelain), fire (the torch, which doubles as a weapon), and a tool (the battering-ram, or some tool to break open the pedestal). It is a great irony that in his adventures in the future, he relies on ancient survivalist intelligence.

Chapter 8:

The TT finds the Palace of Green Porcelain falling into ruins. Inside, he finds a long gallery that functions as a museum, with skeletons of extinct creatures and a few surviving objects from the TT's time. After searching through other galleries which fail to interest him, he enters an enormous room with huge machines. He does not know what their functions are, but wonders if he can use them against the Morlocks. With Weena's prompting, the TT notices that the gallery slopes downward into darkness. He sees small footprints near the source of darkness, and feels the Morlocks are near. When he hears noises in the darkness similar to those from the well, he breaks off the lever of a machine. He restrains his desire to kill the Morlocks with his new "mace," as it may impede his progress in regaining the Time Machine.

The TT passes through a ruined library, then goes upstairs to a well-preserved gallery of chemistry. He finds a box of matches and a jar of camphor, a flammable substance which he decides to use as a candle. He does not find anything with which to break open the pedestal. He finds other weapons, but none as good as his broken lever. He also locates idols from several countries, and some dynamite which no longer works. He decides to camp out with a fire for protection, and feels hopeful that he will be able to pry open the pedestal with his lever.


It is fitting that the lever of a machine should play an important role here. Much as the rich have always used industry to enslave the poor, the TT relies on a relic of industry to defend himself against the Morlocks. He does not merely wish to defend himself, however; we see his bloodthirsty nature emerge as never before as he contemplates descending into the darkness and slaying the Morlocks. His taste for murder is a blend of modern and primal impulses. He has both the disgust for the poor befitting a member of the English aristocracy as well as the savage violence of a Neanderthal--even the lever, which he calls a "mace" (a Medieval weapon), resembles more a blunt club.

Continuing this primal regression, the TT has also regained fire. It is ironic that this is more useful than almost any of the more modern advancements the Palace displays. As the TT muses, the charred, ruined literature strikes him as an "enormous waste of labour." While he means that the work has been in vain, since it is now ruined, he may be indirectly commenting on the worthlessness of high culture when compared to bare necessities like fire and shelter. Once again, the TT's travels in the future ironically bring him back to a more basic way of life.