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Free Study Guide-The Time Machine by H. G. Wells-Online BookNotes/Summary
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

CHAPTER 1

Summary

The Time Traveller, as he is called by the narrator, Hillyer (his name is used very rarely), is speaking to a group of friends and associates gathered in his home for a regular Thursday dinner. The narrator is present (as he usually is, as he is a particular friend of the Time Traveller) along with a group of half a dozen men, mostly referred to by their professions, including the Provincial Mayor, the Medical Man and the Psychologist. At this particular meeting, the Time Traveller is expressing his ideas about the often overlooked fourth dimension--time--and how he believes that man can travel just as easily through it as he does through space.

Some of the men tentatively accept his idea of a fourth dimension, and the necessity of a new geometry to account for it, but when he posits his belief that man can travel through time, both backwards and forwards at his own will, the group reject this notion almost entirely. In response to their skepticism, the Time Traveller brings from his laboratory a model version of a time machine for a demonstration, which provides further proof of his theory.


The machine disappears, and the Time Traveller asserts that it remains within the same physical space, but disappeared because it has gone to a different time. The majority of the men are still wary of accepting the conclusion that time travel is possible, believing that the demonstration was just a trick, a slight of hand, and for further proof, the Time Traveller shows the men the full-scale version of his Time Machine, asserting that with it, he will explore time. The men continue to be incredulous, but the narrator is hesitant to reject the Time Traveller’s claims outright.

Notes

This first chapter introduces the reader to the Time Traveler, as well as his theories. Throughout the chapter, he provides some scientific evidence to back up his claims, based on work being done in Wells’s time, a device he will continue to use, as the theories of Darwin and the Fabians are clearly the basis for many of the Time Traveller’s own. This provides a measure of reality for a story that would otherwise be a total fantasy, thus challenging a total dismissal of the story that Wells creates as complete fiction, placing the reader somewhat in the position of the narrator and the men at the dinner party.

The reader, most likely as skeptical as the men at the party, begins to be lead to suspend their disbelief by the narrator’s nascent acceptance of the possibility of time travel. This chapter also provides a description of the machine itself, which is made out of nickel, ivory, and quartz, exactly as the model had been, delicately assembled in a “glittering metal framework.”

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