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The Time Machine

The Time Machine Summary


Here you will find a The Time Machine summary (H.G. Wells's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

The Time Machine Summary Overview

A congregation of gentlemen, inclusive of the storyteller, lend their ears to the Time Traveller as he expounds his belief that time is the fourth dimension. The Time Traveller showcases a tiny model of a time machine, making it vanish into the ether. When the group reconvenes a week later, they find their disheveled and weary host arriving late, initiating his tale post dinner. The Time Traveller chronicles his journey into the future, specifically to the year 802,701 AD, in his newly completed time mechanism. He encounters the Eloi, diminutive, peaceful humanoids living in an idyllic world who welcome him with fruits. Upon returning from his exploration, he discovers his time contraption missing, deducing it's possibly concealed within a statue's base nearby. He catches sight of peculiar ape-like entities, dubbed Morlocks by the Eloi, who dwell underground. In the course of his adventures, he rescues and befriends an Eloi named Weena. Venturing into the subterranean world of the Morlocks to reclaim his machine, he equips himself with matches as a deterrent against these creatures. Despite being chased out, he musters the courage to seek a safe haven for himself and Weena from the night-prowling Morlocks. His journey leads him to an establishment he refers to as the Palace of Green Porcelain, revealed to be a museum. There, he arms himself with more matches, camphor, and a lever as a weapon. A large-scale fire breaks out amidst their escape from the Morlocks through a vast forest, resulting in several Morlock casualties, as well as Weena's demise. Returning to the statue base, the Time Traveller discovers it already forced open. He takes a leap of faith onto his machine just as the Morlocks believe they've cornered him, rapidly transporting him further into the future. The Time Traveller makes numerous additional stops in his journey. He lands on a beach in a distant era where he confronts giant crabs while a massive, static red sun dominates the sky. Journeying to a point thirty million years into the future, he encounters a barely breathable atmosphere and a single life form, a tentacled dark blob. Observing a celestial body eclipse the sun, he finally exhausts himself and returns to his original era. However, he embarks on another journey the following day, from which he never returns.

chapter 1

The Time Traveller is addressing a group of men, including the narrator, in his house about the concept of the fourth dimension. He explains that a cube exists not only spatially but temporally as well, with time being this additional dimension. The group is somewhat doubtful. He insists that it should be possible to navigate through this fourth dimension, as we do with the other three. He points out that we are continuously progressing through time, so why not manipulate our speed or direction? He presents a small time machine, comparable in size to a clock, composed of ivory and crystal. He clarifies that one control propels the apparatus forward in time, while the other takes it back. He invites a guest to activate the forward control, and the machine vanishes with a slight breeze. He asserts it has now started its journey into the future. The group questions why they can't see it, as they are also moving into the future. He responds by stating it's travelling at such a speed that it becomes invisible, similar to the spokes of a wheel or a fast-moving bullet. The group is astounded. The Traveller then reveals a larger machine, which he intends to use for time exploration.

chapter 2

The narrator implies that the Time Traveller's tales weren't taken seriously, as he was renowned for his clever tricks. A week later, the narrator and a mix of old and new guests gather for dinner at his house. Their host is tardy, and they're ordered to start without him. When he appears, he's a sight, covered in dust and looking unkempt. He quickly consumes a glass of champagne before cleaning up. The narrator jokes to the guests that the Time Traveller's delay is due to time travel. They respond with disbelief and sarcastic comments. The Time Traveller, once prepared to share his tale, faces an initial resistance from the guests. He stipulates that he will only talk if there are no interruptions. The guests consent, and as he begins his tale, they become more engrossed.

chapter 3

The Time Traveller activates his machine, instantly feeling a sensation of dizziness. He's shocked to see that five hours have passed on his lab clock. Testing further, he pushes the lever more, causing time to fly by with night and day interchanging swiftly. His lab soon vanishes and he catches glimpses of hazy buildings and the sun continuously traversing the sky, its path shifting with the seasons. His initial sense of thrill turns into fear as he realizes the potential danger of landing in a solid object. He abruptly stops the machine and flings through the air. Emerging from his disoriented state, he finds himself amidst a hail storm. Once it subsides, he spots a towering white sphinx statue on a bronze pedestal. The sight prompts fears about the evolution of humanity - possibly into something harsh or barbaric. He sees large structures nearby and realizes he's being watched by figures in opulent clothes from the closest building. One figure approaches him, beautiful yet delicate, reminiscent of a tuberculosis patient to the Time Traveller.

chapter 4

Surrounded by the creatures who speak a "sweet and liquid tongue," the Time Traveller feels safe. He dismantles his time machine's controls to prevent its misuse. The creatures are described as large-eyed, curly-haired beings with thin red lips. Misunderstanding his attempt to explain his origins, the creatures think he arrived during a hail storm due to his gesture towards the sun. Their apparent lack of intelligence disappoints him. The creatures, who shower him with unusual flowers, elicit his laughter as they defy his preconceived notions of the future. He is then led into a large building, adorned with peculiar hieroglyphics. He is offered an unfamiliar fruit and attempts to learn their language but only receives laughter in return. The creatures, who seem idle and simple-minded, lose interest in teaching him. On exploring the 802,701 AD world, he finds ruins and large communal dwellings. The absence of discernible genders or elders leads him to mistakenly conclude he has landed in a utopian society devoid of fear and hardship. He observes the creatures as frail and naive, believing that efforts from his own time to make life easier have resulted in such beings. He surmises that the hardships in life breed strength and intelligence. In the absence of danger, he believes, family becomes irrelevant, leading to a communal lifestyle. However, as the Time Traveller narrates his tale, he admits his theory was profoundly incorrect.

chapter 5

The Time Traveller, realizing his machine has disappeared, frantically searches the area. He suspects the weak creatures he's met couldn't have moved it, so he awakens them, demanding his machine back, causing fright among them. He starts to think logically about where his machine could be and how to retrieve it. Concluding that his machine hasn't been gone long, he thinks it may be hidden in the large base of a sphinx statue. But his attempt to break it open with a rock fails, and the creatures shun him when he asks for help. He decides patience is key and begins to learn more about the creatures' language and environment. He observes mysterious wells that seem to pull air downward and hears the sounds of machines from within. He starts doubting his initial theory about the creatures' civilization. He's puzzled by the lack of manufacturing and the strange wells. He saves a creature named Weena from drowning and grows fond of her. She provides a sense of familiarity near the sphinx statue but displays a deep fear of darkness. One morning, the Time Traveller spots white figures moving around in the dim light. On another day, he encounters a white, ape-like creature in an old ruin which escapes down one of the mysterious wells. This encounter prompts him to believe that there might be an underground society. He considers a possible division of labour between the overworld and underworld creatures, similar to the class divisions in his own society. He learns the overworld creatures are named "Eloi" and the underworld beings "Morlocks". However, when he attempts to learn more about the Morlocks from Weena, she becomes extremely distressed.

chapter 6

The Time Traveller realizes he has to venture into the Morlocks' world to regain his machine. He spots a distant building, which he terms the Palace of Green Porcelain, but chooses to explore a well instead. His decision concerns Weena. After a long climb down the well, he rests in a cozy nook. He's awakened by the feel of cold, damp fingers. Striking a match, he spots several Morlocks fleeing. Venturing further, he stumbles upon a large room filled with Morlocks and their pulsating machines that circulate air in the caves. There's meat of some sort that the Morlocks are consuming. Suddenly, he runs out of matches to keep the Morlocks at bay, and they attack him. He manages a narrow escape back up the well.

chapter 7

Filled with fear, he concludes that he requires some form of protection against the Morlocks and reassesses his theories. Gradually, he understands that the Morlocks' meat was likely Eloi, hunted in the dark. He comprehends why the Eloi fear the darkness. They mention an impending "Dark Nights" period, signaling the waning moon. He surmises his initial theory about labor division taken to an extreme might be accurate, suggesting the Morlocks' ancestors were forced underground to serve the Eloi's forebears, resulting in a power shift. The Eloi's lax lifestyle has made them weak, while the Morlocks have become strong. He assumes both races descended from humans, with cannibalism becoming acceptable over time. He also considers that his trip to the underground world could have upset the Morlocks. Feeling anxious, the traveller hurries to locate a safe space to stay the night. He opts to seek refuge in the Palace of Green Porcelain. Carrying Weena, he embarks on the journey towards the palace. For a while, Weena walks with him, filling his pockets with flowers, two of which he later shows to his guests. He continues his tale. The journey takes longer than anticipated, and nightfall finds them at the edge of a large forest. He has no matches left and fears entering the forest with the presence of Morlocks. He places Weena on a hilltop allowing her to sleep, while he stands guard. They pass the night unscathed.

chapter 8

The Time Traveller and Weena step into the Palace of Green Porcelain, a massive structure crafted from green porcelain, now in ruins and recognizable as an old museum. In the chemistry section, the Time Traveller recovers some camphor, a flammable material, and happily discovers preserved matches, having run out of his own. He is amazed by the utterly deteriorated books he stumbles upon in one of the rooms. Venturing into a large machine room, he sees Weena frightened. A chilling sound of Morlocks echoes from the dark end of the hall, prompting him to break off a lever from a machine and make a hasty exit. Though he intends to return swiftly to the sphinx statue, his depleted energy due to lack of sleep for two days slows him down. As they approach the forest again, they can hear the ominous sounds of Morlocks stirring in their wake.

chapter 9

As darkness descends, the Time Traveller ignites a large blaze using camphor and dry brush to secure their path into the forest. The fire catches on fast. He and Weena move quickly but soon become encircled by Morlocks. The Time Traveller creates another fire, feeding it with dry wood. Exhausted, he falls asleep, reassured by the fire's protection. He wakes to the Morlocks seizing him. He fights back, wielding the lever he'd taken from the museum. He manages to kill a few Morlocks before the rest scatter. He realizes the initial fire sparked a huge forest fire. Weena is nowhere to be found. He decides to follow the Morlocks, hoping they'll guide him to a safe place. He stumbles upon a clearing with a big hill teeming with bewildered, sightless Morlocks. They're defenseless. As day breaks, he orients himself from the hilltop and sets out towards the white sphinx statue. He intends to break open the pedestal with his lever.

chapter 10

Upon reaching his destination, he's taken aback to find the pedestal ajar, his time machine waiting inside. He chuckles, figuring out the Morlocks' scheme. He steps into the pedestal, which promptly closes behind him, just as he anticipated. He tries to light a match, only to realize he has nothing to strike it on. Suddenly, the Morlocks attack. In desperation, he scrambles onto the time machine's saddle, barely tightening the forward lever. He propels it forward, narrowly escaping into what lies ahead.

chapter 11

The Time Traveller hurtles forward in time at a faster rate, observing the transition of day and night as the sun expands and reddens. It appears as if the earth has halted its spin, orbiting the decaying sun like the moon once orbited earth. When he finally ceases his journey, he finds himself on an inclined beach, blanketed by vegetation under the static sun and thinning air. He spots an enormous white butterfly in the distance and a red rock moving towards him, which reveals itself to be a colossal crab. As he gazes at it, another crab brushes his neck with its antenna. In a rush to escape, he jumps a month ahead in time only to find the beach swarming with more crabs. He continues his journey, pausing every century, witnessing the "old earth ebb away." After traveling thirty million years into the future, he finally halts. The atmosphere is freezing and the only hint of life is lichen on the beach and small snowflakes dancing in the air. A large disc obscures the sun, which the Time Traveller guesses is Mercury, now closer to Earth, crossing the sun's path. This causes an intense darkness. On the brink of passing out, he mounts his machine again and spots a black, tentacled blob in the distance - the lone evidence of animal existence.

chapter 12

The time traveller eventually acclimatizes to the past, discerning the faint structures of buildings. He sees his laboratory reassemble around him and his maid in reverse motion. He halts his machine to confirm the date and finds his dinner guests in the adjacent room. His guests, rendered silent and dubious, watch him. The Time Traveller momentarily appears overwhelmed, his memory faltering. He inspects his time machine, discovering it coated in earth and grass. The next morning, the narrator visits, keen to converse with his host in daylight. The Time Traveller is preparing for another expedition, assuring his return in 30 minutes with irrefutable proof. However, as the narrator recounts this tale, three years have elapsed and the Time Traveller is yet to return.


The storyteller contemplates his current location, only certain of possessing two fragile, foreign blossoms. These are his sole evidence of his journey through time, symbolizing the enduring human propensity for compassion, even when physical power and intellect have deteriorated.

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