The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells, has long been one of my favorite stories. On the one hand, it is a troubling allegory reflecting on the degrading and dehumanizing effects of severe social stratification, and on the other hand, it is an awe-inspiring adventure that simultaneously embraces horror while leaving room for hope and the salvation of love.
This image attempts to capture a glimpse of the dystopian future described in the book.
The Time Traveler in H.G. Well’s book “The Time Machine” is defined by his intelligence, cleverness, insight, and charisma. I decided to focus on these qualities.
I also took some artistic liberties. This story is a critique of social divisions, so I decided to explore and accentuate this further by depicting the hero as a man of African lineage… a man who would have been well acquainted with the terrible evils of imperialism as it existed in H. G. Wells’s day - evils that persist in our world, even now.
In the story, he travels through time and discovers a future in which humanity’s tendency toward deeper social divides has driven it to evolve into two equally loathsome species.
First, there exist the frail, child-like, vapid Eloi who live a carefree existence in the sun. After observing their behavior, the Time Traveler concludes they are the descendants of a privileged class that eventually abandoned intelligence and compassion in favor of mindless leisure, forgetting the system that made their lives possible, until they lacked even a basic awareness of it.
Second, there are the industrious, clever Morlocks, who, in form and movement, appear monstrous to the Time Traveler. They live in the darkness, waiting for the night to come, to tend their livestock. The Time Traveler concludes these creatures are the descendants of the lower classes, who have turned the system that originally enslaved them, and eventually become the true masters of the earth.
In this image, I have chosen to represent them imaginatively through the presence of a giant, looming mechanical visage - a construction they might have built (but not mentioned in the book).
The sphinx statue stands atop a structure with heavy doors, and it is here that the Morlocks steal away with the Time Traveler’s machine, his only means of escape. The sphinx symbolizes the riddle of the tale - is this future inevitable, or can it be avoided?
In the story, the time traveler fatefully rescues one of the Eloi from drowning. Although the Eloi in general do not have a capacity for love, this one proves to be an exception. They become friends, of a sort, and the white flowers she gives him become a symbol of hope even after the story’s darkest hours have passed.