Time Machine Oddities
When we were reading selections from Edgar Allen Poe, I made mention of the fact that his non-use of dates was puzzling to me. The little things that I noted could not leave my head as I read the rest of his works. Well, H.G. Wells falls under the same category for me. There are a few things while reading The Time Machine that I have a hard time wrapping my head around.
The first of the items is Wells’ inconsistent use of names. In the first two chapters it is very evident. Instead of giving actual names to characters, he just describes them generically. Using names such as the Time Traveller, the Medical Man, the Psychologist, the Provincial Mayor, the Very Young Man, and the editor; Wells refuses to give many characters a proper name. One sentence states, “The Medical Man and the Provincial Mayor watched him from the right, the psychologist from the left”. (1) This simple sentence would sound much better with actual names, at least to me. There are a few exceptions though, as Filby and Weena have names. That makes it all the more confusing, why name a few characters and not the rest?
The other puzzling item was the random date that the Time Traveller went to. Previous time travel stories that I have read seem to put their stories in the not too distant future. The number is normally a nice rounded year, such as 2000. Wells, on the other hand, takes the Time Traveller to, “Our planet in the year Eight Hundred and Two Thousand Seven Hundred and One A.D.” (2) That is such a random number, I would like to know how he decided upon that. I can see placing your story far into the future, but to make such a specific year is puzzling. O the irony of stating that he is too specific with the date, but not specific enough with the names.
1. Wells, H.G, The Time Machine (New American Library, 2002), 7.
2. Wells, 32.