As previous stated, the central idea of The Time Machine is that of evolution. Crucially it is Wells' speculation of the evolution of mankind from the position of the time he was writing. It is an extrapolation of 1895, a late-Victorian future. On more than one occasion, the Time Traveller observes that the state of the Eloi and the Morlock can be traced to the conditions and behaviour of man in the nineteenth century. For example, when commenting on the similarity between the two Eloi sexes, the Time Traveller notes that when dangers and pressures towards children are reduces "there is... no necessity... for the efficient family, and the specialization of the sexes with reference to their children's needs disappears. We see some beginnings of this even in our own time, and in the future age it was complete."

But this turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg of the future evolution of mankind. When the Time Traveller first arrives in 802,701, his appraisal of the fate of mankind is at least partially positive, and informed only by his impressions of the Eloi. However, as more and more of the picture emerge, he develops a changing theory about the evolutionary fate of mankind. His first impression is that he had "happened upon humanity upon the wane... For the first time I began to realize an odd consequence of the social effort in which we are at present engage... Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness. The work of ameliorating the conditions of life - the true civilizing process that makes life increasingly secure - had gone steadily on to a climax. One triumph of a united humanity over Nature had followed another. Things that are now mere dreams had become projects deliberately put in hand and carried forward."

In other words, the Eloi have evolved to suit a world free of the selection pressures that make it necessary for mankind to be resourceful, intelligent and strong. The Time Traveller draws parallels with the artificial selection of breeding, an explanatory device used by Darwin's himself in Origin. Says the Time Traveller: "We improve them gradually, because our ideals are vague and tentative, and our knowledge is very limited; because Nature, too, is shy and slow in our clumsy hands." By 802,701 Nature has shaped humanity over evolutionary time because of the changes that humanity has made to its environment, its own niche: "What, unless biological science is a mass of errors, is the cause of human intelligence and vigour? Hardship and freedom: conditions under which the active, strong, and subtle survive and the weaker go to the wall; conditions that put a premium upon the loyal alliance of capable men, upon self-restraint, patience, and decision." The earth has witnessed "a perfect conquest of Nature. For after the battle comes Quiet," notes the Time Traveller, imagery that is echoed in his giddying and violent arrival in the time machine, which in turn is in the middle of a hailstorm which clears to reveal the apparent Eden of the future. And elsewhere, he notes that, "intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers." Wells crucially sees that the strengths of humanity "all found their justification and support in the imminent dangers of the young. Now, where are these imminent dangers?" He is astute in pointing to the protection of the young as a crucial need of a species: a measure of fitness in animals is often seen in terms of not just the production of young, but the survival of offspring to a reproductive age - a case of grandchildren not children as a quantifier of adaptive fitness. Of course, evolution does not work on the level of the species, nor indeed the individual, but on the level of the gene, something that was not understood until well into the twentieth century (see Further Reading).

However, to be pedantic, there is a flaw in Wells' idea of an evolutionary decadence. Certainly biological adaptations that become superfluous 'evolve out' to vestigiality (in humans this applies to tails and appendixes for example) but they also tend to carry a selective disadvantage that can be acted upon. It is difficult to see what selective disadvantage intelligence might have. More crucially, if mankind really has eradicated all dangers as is apparent, he has also eradicated all selection pressures. If all children survive, then there is no differential reproduction. In the developed world today we already have a situation where selection pressures are minuscule compared to even a few thousand years ago. That is not to say all evolutionary change has come to a halt, merely that it operates on subtler and less far-reaching levels. (See Further Reading). For Wells' vision to occur a Lamarckian process of evolution would have to

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