The Time Machine | Study Guide

H. G. Wells

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The Time Machine | Chapter 8 | Summary



Arriving at the Palace of Green Porcelain, the Time Traveller discovers that it is a vast, dusty, deserted museum. He comes across dinosaur skeletons, including a Brontosaurus. He explores galleries of minerals and mammals. He enters a huge room full of large machines. At one end, it descends into darkness. He hears Morlocks in the shadows, and breaks a lever off a machine to provide himself with a weapon. He feels a sudden urge to kill a Morlock. He can see no human qualities in them. In a chemistry display, he finds matches and some flammable camphor. Together, he and Weena investigate many more galleries. In one of them, he finds a mining diorama with two sticks of dynamite. Overjoyed, he tries to set one off. Nothing happens. They are just models, not real. He decides they should spend the night outside where they can light a fire to protect themselves.


In this chapter, the reader gets a view of some continuity with the past and a connection with a culture of the future that was different from the Eloi and Morlocks. Clearly, not too long ago there were humans who knew many branches of knowledge and prized them. They built this huge museum. They knew archaeology.

The Palace is also a handy plot device. With so much in it, the Time Traveller quickly finds something he can use as a defensive weapon, as well as matches. Without these, it would be just a matter of time before the Morlocks got him. He now has a fighting chance. That he just happened to find such a useful repository is, of course, a huge coincidence. However, coincidences were pretty standard in 19th-century novels. Finally, the iron bar and the matches help set the stage for a make-or-break showdown with the Morlocks.

The theme of evolution surfaces as the museum displays fossils, dinosaurs, mammals, and other organisms, reminding readers that Earth has a long history of development and diversity. The culture of the Eloi and Morlocks has a demonstrable origin: it didn't just happen by chance. It is the result of a long, but natural, biological process.

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