The Time Machine
The book's protagonist is an amateur inventor or scientist living in London who is never named; he is identified simply as The Time Traveller. Having demonstrated to friends using a miniature model that time is a fourth dimension, and that a suitable apparatus can move back and forth in this fourth dimension, he builds a full-scale model capable of carrying himself. He sets off on a journey into the future. (From feedbooks.com)
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This text may contain some unfamiliar vocabulary words. You can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers by clicking (or pressing on mobile devices) the word you want to define and holding until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Use this feature to figure out what the Time Traveller is doing in the first sentence. Choose the answer below that best describes his actions.
H. G. Wells (1866-1946), the author of "The Time Machine," was an English writer known for his science fiction writings. His work also explored social issues, such as conflicts between various groups and classes in society. "The Time Machine," published in 1895, was his first novel and is both a science fiction work and a social commentary. (This annotation contains an image)
According to the Time Traveller, what are the four dimensions of an object's existence?
This idea that time is the fourth dimension was not invented for this science fiction novel. It was first explained by real scientists, and it is still believed by many today. Watch the clip below from the physicist Stephen Hawking's 2010 documentary on the universe. (This annotation contains a video)
If you are interested in the science behind the idea of time travel, read about the concept of wormholes at the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following is an example of an anachronism? Use the dictionary feature if you are unsure of the meaning of the word.
What is the narrative point of view of The Time Machine?
This story focuses heavily on the Time Traveller, but he is not actually the narrator. Who is telling this story and what is its point of view? Watch the video below for information about point of view. (This annotation contains a video)
The Time Traveller is saying that the time machine would be moving so fast that it would be too blurry to see.
What does plausible most nearly mean?
Based on the highlighted simile, do people feel comfortable trusting the Time Traveller? Explain your answer.
The author, H. G. Wells, uses figurative language throughout this book to help describe his characters and settings. Watch the video below for an explanation of the two most common type of figurative language: similes and metaphors. (This annotation contains a video)
"Blank" is not the man's name; it is the narrator's way of saying that the man's name was unimportant. Notice that the narrator names very few characters. Most are known simply by their occupations: Editor, Psychologist, Medical Man, etc. Why might this be?
The editor's job is to read and edit newspaper articles, so he tends to think about life events as if they were newspaper headlines.
The structure of "The Time Machine" does not follow chronological order. The video below explains how authors might choose to structure a story outside of chronological order. In fact, the first two chapters acted as a frame story. These chapters "frame" the story that the Time Traveller tells his listeners. (This annotation contains a video)
Aside from the movements of the sun and moon, what are two other observations the Time Traveller makes that indicate time is passing?
As the Time Traveller moves through the future, he witnesses more advanced societies. In fact, since he sees green without "any wintry intermission." We can assume that more advanced scientists managed to eliminate the cold of winter!
What risk does the Time Traveller take in stopping his machine?
The structure may have looked something like this winged sphinx. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the Time Traveller suddenly regain confidence after seeing the approaching creatures?
What are three words in the highlighted sentence that have a positive connotation, suggesting that the Time Traveller seems to like these futuristic humans?
Denotation is the literal definition of a word, but connotation is the emotional feeling associated with a word. Watch the video below for an overview of these two concepts. (This annotation contains a video)
Which words best describe the human creatures the Time Traveller meets in the future?
Notice the strange contradiction: the buildings seem to be very fancily built, yet they are falling apart. This shows beauty mixed with decay.
Setting is the time and place in which a story takes place. Describe three aspects of the setting in which the Time Traveller finds himself. Discuss both the man-made structures and the natural landscape.
The Thames is a well-known river that runs through London, England. This tells us that the Time Traveller is still in the same geographical location as he was before his journey through time. Few traces of London remain, but the Thames River is still visible. (This annotation contains an image)
H. G. Wells was influenced by the theories of Charles Darwin. Wells believed that humankind changed and evolved in reaction to the necessities of survival. In a harsh world, humans would become strong and tough. In a world full of peace and abundance, humans would become gentle and weak. The video below gives a brief description of Darwin's theory of evolution. Think about how this theory might explain the strange humans the Time Traveller encounters. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the most likely meaning of the metaphor "the sunset of mankind"?
Comment on the accuracy of the film clip you just watched. What aspects of the book were depicted well in the film? What changes did you notice?
Watch the video below for a depiction of the Time Traveller's early interactions with these futuristic humans. This scene is from the 1960 film adaptation of the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
A frame story does not follow the typical stages of a plot, but the inner story (the story within a story) does. Here we enter the complication phase known as the rising action. Watch the video below for an overview of the stages of a plot. (This annotation contains a video)
What conflict has arisen to complicate the rising action of the plot?
The Time Traveller tries to act very logically and scientifically most of the time, but he clearly has some flaws. Here, he loses self-control and runs around in a crazed fashion. Is this a realistic reaction? Do you think it was logical and scientific to leave the time machine out on the lawn?
According to the Time Traveller, the subterranean ventilation keeps the apparatus of these people sanitary. Which option below best paraphrases this idea. Use the dictionary feature to help you.
These are some curious details: no evidence of elderly people or of cemeteries. Why might this be? Keep this in mind as you continue to read.
Although the Time Traveller tries to tell his story in a factual, scientific way, the tone and mood of his story change when he becomes highly emotional. Watch the video below for a description of tone and mood. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the setting of this paragraph help create a mysterious and uneasy mood?
The Time Traveller seems disgusted by the ape-like creature he sees when describing it in the highlighted paragraph. List three words with negative connotations that reveal the Time Traveller's negative opinion of the creature.
Use the information from the map in the previous annotation to help you answer this question. How is the society of 1889 similar to the society in 802,701?
The Time Traveller believes that social inequality led to the evolution of the two types of futuristic humans. He talks about the "widening gulf" between the upper and lower classes in his own time period that caused these groups to live increasingly separate lives. The map below depicts London streets in 1889. The red streets mark upper-class neighborhoods, and the blue streets indicate lower-class neighborhoods. Notice how segregated the two classes are. (This annotation contains an image)
What evolutionary process does the Time Traveller believe has taken place between his time (1890s) and the year 802,701?
Describe two to three elements of the underground setting that help create a tense and frightened mood.
Too bad the Time Traveller didn't think to conserve those matches earlier... He certainly is going through them very quickly now!
Do you think the scene in the film captured the terrified mood created in the text? Why or why not?
Watch the film interpretation of this Morlock encounter. (This annotation contains a video)
In 1890s England, many of the poor were oppressed by the rich. The wealthy used their money and influence to shape society in their favor. How has this "old order" been "in part reversed" by the year 802,701?
Can you predict what the source of this meat might be?
Wimbledon was a suburb of southwest London in Wells's time. You may recognize the name as the location of the famous tennis championships. Wimbledon began hosting tennis championships in 1877, so it was already well-known in the 1890s. (This annotation contains an image)
If you were to hold your hand up toward the night sky to gauge the distance between stars, the average star would move the width of your pinky finger over the course of 350 years. It would take tens of thousands of years for constellations to change the way they have for the Time Traveller. Visit the link below to see the changes that astronomers predict in 50,000 years. (This annotation contains a link)
How does the Time Traveller feel about the Eloi?
South Kensington is a borough (or sector) of London, containing a number of well-known museums.
What do the darkness and pattering suggest?
A theme about human society seems to be clear. Watch the video below for a discussion of theme. (This annotation contains a video)
Camphor is a flammable, waxy substance produced by some types of trees.
What is the symbolism of the crumbling books and decaying museum?
We associate the discovery of fire with cavemen. These human forms, the Eloi and the Morlocks, are even less intelligent and evolved than the cavemen.
Which of the following contribute(s) to the tension of this scene?
What are two character traits that the Time Traveller demonstrated during this last night? Support your answer with specific reference to his actions in the text.
What theme does this paragraph relate to?
Which point was the climax of the Time Traveller's adventure?
The Time Traveller seems to have reached an era much like prehistoric times. Humans, presumably, no longer exist upon the earth.
The Time Traveller is perhaps witnessing the end of the earth following the death of the sun.
The original narrator has resumed his narration. This means that the story within the story has ended and we have returned to the ____ .
Now the importance of the frame story becomes clear. Why was it necessary for an outside narrator to tell the story?