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Survival Of The Fittest Essay

1931 words - 8 pages

Survival of the fittest. This idea, also known as Darwinism, was theorized by scientist Charles Darwin to explain the evolution of animal species. In the late 1800s, however, the idea of Social Darwinism emerged and applied the same concepts of Darwinism but on humans not animals. As defined by the dictionary, Social Darwinism is a belief, popular in the late Victorian era throughout the world, which states that the strongest or toughest should survive and flourish in society, while the weak and unfit should be allowed to die (“Social” 1). Science fiction writer H.G. Wells lived when the ideas of Social Darwinism were at their peak. He was able to see firsthand what effects Social Darwinism had on the world, and he was by no means impressed. By examining the different critical lenses of The Time Machine, the reader can see how H.G. Wells warns how the adverse effects of Social Darwinism are endangering the future of humanity.
From a historical standpoint, there is evidence of a relationship regarding social issues during Wells’ own time and the setting of The Time Machine. The setting of the novel occurs during the late 1800s and the year 802,701. The late 1800s were the end of the Victorian Era, when the idea of Social Darwinism was at its height. At this time, the economies, governments, and technologies of the White European countries were advanced in comparison to that of other cultures. The Time Traveller rhetorically asks himself, “[e]ven now, does not an East-end worker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the Earth?” (Wells 41). Here, the Time Traveller makes a relationship between what he sees in the future, non-workers living above ground and workers living underground, and what he sees in his own time. Both the future and the present have the same problem. He even goes on to say, “[w]e see some beginnings of this even in our own time, and in this future age it was complete” (25). The Time Traveller not only sees a connection in his time and the future, but he also sees how things have turned out and where they were heading in his own time. Literary critic John Parrington sees too how the social situation presented in The Time Machine “is a result of the Continuation of late-Victorian capitalism” (Parrington 6). The exploitation of the working class did not just happen suddenly; it was the result of the continuation of social injustices. Wells writes, “[i]n the end, above ground you must have the Haves, pursuing pleasure, comfort and beauty, and below ground the Have Nots; the workers getting continually adapted to the conditions of their labour” (41). Wells presents a vision of the future where social classes has become different species. Literary critic Bernard Bergonzi also supports this idea: “The social tendencies of nineteenth century industriualism have become rigidified and then built in, as it were, to the evolutionary development of the race” (Bergonzi...

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