Class Conflict in the Time Machine

The Victorian Era of England was a time of social strife in which society was split in two. Divisions widened between those who owned the means of production and the working class, as the rich grew richer and the poor reaped no benefit. H.G. Wells’ explores these social stresses within his novel, The Time Machine, through the class conflict depicted between the Eloi and Morlocks.

The Eloi are frail, weak-minded creatures who spend their days frolicking about “clad in rich soft robes” (Wells 20), picking flowers. Within the lush landscape, they live in “there were no signs of struggle, neither social nor economic” (27). They live their lives without need, partaking in leisurely activities. These creatures represent the social elite of England who has become weak from years absent of struggle.

The Morlocks on the other hand represent the working class, producing the resources to sustain the privileged lives of Elio. They have been forced to live subterranean lives out of the sight of the owners of production. Years of neglect and darkness have made them to be ferocious, ape-like creatures with “pale chinless faces and great, lidless pinkish-grey eyes” (45).

The divide between these two classes leads to an all-out conflict in which the Morlocks raise the Eloi as cattle, cannibalizing them in the night for sustenance. After years of subjugation and extortion, the Morlocks replace the Eloi as the ruling class, exercising the power of life and death. This is a complete reversal to the social stresses of Victorian England, where the elite exploits the lower rungs of society. Wells illustrates this alternate situation to illustrate the future the class system has in store if the divisions of class are not mended and stress comes to a boiling point. As the gap between the rich and the poor grows, they will become restless, and once emboldened to do so, they will rise and bring about change through their own means, extracting what they deem to be theirs. Through this, Wells is not only representing the class conflict of the era but issuing a warning on what is to come if these societal conflicts persist.

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