The Empire of the Future: Imperialism and Modernism in H.G. Wells

 Late nineteenth century
 England controlled a sizeable portion of the world's
 India
 Large swaths of Africa and China
 Australia
 Canada
 Some outright colonies
 Others held "dominion" status
Queen Victoria is named the empress of India
 Motives for empire:
 sought wealth
 markets for manufactured goods
 sources for raw materials
 world power and influence
 Techniques of empire
 “ The Sword and the Torch”
 Sword = military might
 Torch = “the White Man’s burden” to civilize barbarians
 missionary societies flourished
 spreading Christianity in India, Asia, and Africa
 The British rationalized imperialist policies:
 Not by claiming that their acquisitions were in the military or
economic interest of the country
 (which they were)
 The British rationalized imperialist policies:
 But by claiming it was their duty as the superior race to "civilize"
primitive peoples who were incapable of governing themselves
 Used Darwin's theories to support his claims for racial superiority
 Social Darwinists interpreted survival of the fittest to mean that the
strong are meant to rule the weak.
 Rudyard Kipling saw expansion of empire as moral responsibility and
referred to this duty as "the white man's burden"
 Yep, the Jungle Book guy
 British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli
 Disraeli’s novel Sybil, in which he described the rich and
poor as:
“… two nations between whom there is no intercourse and
no sympathy; who are ignorant of each other’s habits,
thoughts and feelings, as if they were dwellers in
different zones or inhabitants of different planets; who
are formed by different breeding, are fed by different
food, are ordered by different manners, and are not
governed by the same laws”. (2)
 H.G. Wells The Time
Machine uses ideas such as
Disraeli's “Two Nations”:
1. the imperial frontier
2. the idea of time travel
•Based on the imperialistic
narratives of the mid1880's.
 The “Two Nations”
theory came about
when Disraeli looked
at the difference
between the rich and
the poor in Victorian
H.G. Wells novels, the “Two Nations” theory is portrayed
through two tribes
the Eloi and the Morlocks
The Eloi are peaceful, docile, and friendly
 Morlocks are primitive (ape-like), evil, and cannibalistic
representing the good vs. evil
Not all Tribes are created equal
“South Sea Islanders” were the favored natives due
to passivity of colonization
“They spent all their time in playing gently, in
bathing in the river, in making love in a half-playful
manner fashion, in eating fruit and sleeping” (Wells
qtd. In “Empire of the Future”)
 The Morlocks are portrayed as the evil tribe that
needs to be conquered by man because it cannot be
 The evil tribe was commonly attributed as being
cannibalistic, such as the Morlocks
 In The Time Machine, Wells uses the ideas of
Einstein and Minkowski to show there is a fourth
dimension- Time
 “Time is only a kind of space” (qtd. In “Empire of
the Future)
Wells decides to travel into the future, showing the
imperial frontier of the future
 In The Time Machine, Wells is bringing the Imperial
Frontier to Britain
 In order to do this, Wells gives the future a tropical
climate believing that the “Golden Age” life would
come about due to the warm, tropical climate
“The many orientalizing touches in The Time
Machine combine to portray a Britain that has in
effect gone native, that has succumbed to the
seductive forces it hoped to subdue on the imperial
frontier” (Cantor and Hufnagel 236)
In the end of The Time
Machine, Wells portrays the
setting sun, showing that
one day, the sun would
finally set on the British
 Time Machine:
 acts as an attack on Victorian social scene
 denounce evils of Victorian industry
 criticize laissez-faire economics - Capitalism
 Wells brings about the imperial frontier using the
imperialistic narrative style that was quite popular in
that time period.
 Utilitarianism: it is a theory based on the idea that the
rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by
whether its consequences are conductive to general
utility. The main thinker was Jeremy Bentham (Wrote
about social happiness. He believed that individuals
acted by self-interest). The utilitarians applied this
idea for all the institutions, for everything.
 Opposed to the utilitarianism: Thomas Carlyle, he
thought that intellect had limitations and couldn't
explain everything and he turned to the humanism
soul, a sort of religious belief was necessary to explain

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