A time machine showing the year its traveling to.

How far into the future does H.G. Wells’s Time Traveller go? What kind of people (or creatures) does he encounter? Are they friends or foes?

In H.G. Wells’s science fiction classic The Time Machine, a Time Traveller goes to the distant future. There, he finds that humanity has evolved into two separate species—the childlike Eloi and the bestial Morlocks.

Continue reading to travel to the year A.D. 802701 and meet the Eloi and Morlocks.

The World of A.D. 802701

The Time Traveller’s story begins at 10 o’clock that morning, when he finishes his preparations and makes his first journey through time. The Time Traveller goes as far into the future as he dares and lands in the year A.D. 802701, discovering creatures known as Eloi and Morlocks.

(Shortform note: The Time Traveller goes approximately 800,000 years into the future. To give that number some context, if he’d gone that far into the past instead, he would have landed in the Paleolithic period: a time when humans were still hunter-gatherers and only had basic tools made from stone or bone. Considering how much human civilization has advanced since the Paleolithic, it would be reasonable for the Time Traveller to assume that society had advanced that much again by the time he left his machine.)

We’ll examine the Time Traveller’s adventures in A.D. 802701. It starts by explaining how he meets the peaceful Eloi and begins exploring their world and then discusses his encounters with the dangerous Morlocks.

Meeting the Eloi

The Time Traveller lands in a garden, near a statue of a sphinx on a bronze pedestal. He soon meets a group of people called the Eloi, who appear to be distant descendants of humans. The Time Traveller mentions that the Eloi are beautiful to look at, but says that they have a number of strange features. 

The Eloi are only about four feet tall and very slender, with little muscle. There are no physical differences between males and females, and the only difference between children and adults is their height. There are also no signs of disease among the Eloi population, and none of them seem to have jobs. 

The Eloi show no fear of the Time Traveller, even though he’s a large (to them) and strange being who suddenly appeared among them. Instead of running away or attacking, they feed him fruit and try to teach him their language.

However, the Time Traveller senses that the Eloi aren’t very smart, contrary to his assumption that people in the future would be advanced and intelligent. He hypothesizes that the lack of hardship over many generations has made them this way—without any challenges to overcome, the Eloi have no need for physical strength or intelligence.

The Eloi are also apathetic: When one of them—a female named Weena—falls into a river, none of her companions try to help, so the Time Traveller jumps in to save her. Weena becomes attached to him after that and follows him for the rest of his time in A.D. 802701.

Exploring the Future

The Time Traveller removes the control levers from his machine so that nobody else can use it, then goes out to explore the world of A.D. 802701. He notes numerous ruins around the landscape, while the only intact buildings are large structures that remind him of palaces. There are no homes for individual families, which makes him think of communism; many families live together in large, shared homes.

As night falls, the Time Traveller goes back to where he left the time machine and finds that it’s not there. He wakes a group of sleeping Eloi and demands to know what they did with his machine, but they seem confused and—for the first time—afraid. He later learns that the Eloi are terrified of the dark. 

The next morning, the Time Traveller notices marks in the grass and deduces that someone dragged his machine inside the pedestal of the nearby sphinx statue, which must therefore be hollow. He asks the Eloi how to open the pedestal, but they’re shocked and appalled at the question. The Time Traveller decides he’ll have to learn more about the Eloi and their world to figure out how to get his time machine back.

Meeting the Morlocks

As the Time Traveller continues to explore, he notices numerous large holes, resembling wells, going deep into the ground. He finds that the wells are part of an enormous mechanical ventilation system that’s pulling air underground.

On his fourth day in the future, the Time Traveller takes shelter in one of the many ruins. Inside it, he encounters a strange, pale, ape-like creature, larger than an Eloi though still smaller than a human. The creature immediately runs away from him. He tries to follow, but it climbs down one of the wells and disappears.

Thinking about everything he has seen since arriving in A.D. 802701, the Time Traveller concludes that humans have evolved into two species: the surface-dwelling Eloi and this subterranean race, whom he learns are called Morlocks.

The Time Traveller further hypothesizes that these two species are the end result of the division between the upper class and the working class—a division that’s present and widening even in his own time. He muses that the rich must have forced the poor to live underground but to keep working for them. In other words, the idyllic surface world could only exist because of the mass exploitation of the working class.

Descending Into the Morlocks’ World

The Time Traveller is now certain that the Morlocks, not the Eloi, hid his machine (remember that the Eloi were shocked at the idea of opening the pedestal). Therefore, he decides that getting back to his own time will require going down into the Morlocks’ world to learn more about them.

The Time Traveller tries to climb down one of the wells, but when he stops to rest, Morlocks swarm and try to grab him. He lights a match so he can see his attackers, and the light scares the Morlocks away. 

The Time Traveller then follows the fleeing Morlocks to a huge chamber. Inside the chamber is a table with a large hunk of meat on it. He reasons that it must be Eloi meat, since he hasn’t seen any farm animals either on the surface or underground.

The Time Traveller now understands that, while the Eloi might be the descendants of a wealthy ruling class, they’re now essentially well-kept livestock. In other words, the Morlocks continue to make clothes for the Eloi and see to their needs, while also using them as a food source.

Using the rest of his matches to keep the Morlocks at bay, the Time Traveller narrowly escapes and climbs back to the surface.

Escaping From A.D. 802701

The Morlocks pursue the Time Traveller and Weena, eventually surrounding them and trapping them in the woods. The Time Traveller builds a fire to keep the Morlocks away. The Morlocks attack during the night despite the fire. The fire he started has spread to the surrounding trees, and Weena has disappeared.

The Time Traveller makes it back to the garden he’d first arrived in. The Morlocks attack as he expects, but he manages to fight through them, reattach the control levers for the time machine, and escape many millennia into the future.

A.D. 802701: The Time Traveller Among the Eloi and Morlocks

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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