Coralie Paquette From Apes to Androids
Loss of Individuality as an Effect:
Analysis of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops”
Individuality is a big part of what makes us human in the 21st century. Having the right to choose who you are and the right for everybody to be different are pillar aspects of today’s Western societies. H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine is about an English scientist that travels through time while meeting some unknown primitive civilizations of a distant future. E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” is about a future society that worships a very powerful machine that was initially built to serve them. While The Time Machine’s civilizations’ loss of individuality is a result of evolution, civilizations within “The Machine Stops” need to lose their individuality, so society can evolve. The authors of both texts have tried to pass on an important message about society taking everything for granted such as being free, unique and knowledgeable.
Wells’ civilizations in The Time Machine have lost their individuality because of their state of evolution. Considering that evolution can be seen as a parabola, and that modern society has almost reached the climax of this parabola, Well’s civilizations are situated in the second half of this parabola. Civilizations used to be subdivided according to the capitalist and the labour class just as we know today. However, Man have not remained into one specie, it has been subdivided “into two distinct animals” (Wells 54). In Wells’ world, civilizations have differentiated in two categories: the Elois which are presented in particularity and the Morlocks. Both have lost their individuality because at their state of evolution, they are primitive. Today’s humanity has reached the upper point of evolution and, from that point, the civilizations have diminished. Therefore, while evolving towards an even more primitive state, along with that those characters lose their individuality, because no animal has individuality, it is a proper characteristic to humans. Additionally, Well’s civilizations have lost their individuality because besides with evolution they have completely lost all knowledge. The civilizations used to have knowledge, but because of evolution, they lost it. All “the mere memory of Man [...] had been swept out of existence” (Wells 63). With individuality comes knowledge, therefore with the loss of knowledge comes the loss of individuality. There is no point for those civilizations to have knowledge because it cannot be understood. Furthermore, along with the lack of knowledge, Elois have “the intellectual level of [a] five-year-old [child]” (Wells 40). A combination of knowledge and intelligence inadequacy due to evolution are significant evidences that the society has lost its individuality. Also, Elois have an excessively simple way to communicate. They communicate with sentences which “were usually simple and of two words” (We...