The Future Through a Limited Lens

H.G. Wells frames the majority of The Time Machine through an interesting perspective; rather than narrating the adventures of the Time Traveler through third person perspective, he allows the Time Traveler to tell his own story through his own words. This limited first-person perspective prevents the reader from experiencing the tale from a more objective point of view, forcing us to understand the Time Traveler’s journey as he and Wells wanted us to.

Several times, upon his arrival in the future, the Time Traveler remarks on aspects of this foreign society in reference to his own of the 1890s. He discusses them as an extension of his own current conditions, implying that his society will inevitably reach this future point if it continues on the same path. For example, he says, “Where population is balanced and abundant, much child-bearing becomes an evil rather than a blessing to the State; where violence comes but rarely and offspring are secure, there is less necessity… for an efficient family, and the specialization of the sexes with reference to their children’s needs disappears. We see some beginnings of this even in our own time, and in this future age it was complete” (Wells 30). Many people of 1890s British society worried about the blurring of the gendered spheres, so it makes sense that Wells addresses this concern in his story. He does not let us draw our own conclusions, however. Rather, he presents the view he wishes us to hold through the Time Traveler, the only character whose opinions of the future we are able to learn and comprehend. By restricting the reader to this individual perspective, he effectively communicates his ideas about the present and predictions for the future without leaving room for interpretation.

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