After finishing the Harry Potter series (which doesn’t need another poorly written review), I decided for something older, shorter and a little more mature and decided to tackle some books I’ve been meaning to read for a long time – namely H.G. Wells more well known works.
I fortunately found an anthology – if two stories can be called so – of H.G. Wells “The Time Machine” and “The Invisible Man”. First of all, the story is thinly veiled critique of the aristocracy of Victorian Britain, the idea that the segmentation and stagnation of class would lead to the eventual dulling of the minds of the leisure class, while the underclasses become more violent and brutish.
However, the one thing I did find interesting is the relationship between the unnamed Time Traveller, the Narrator and Weena – an Eloi woman of the future. The story can be broken into two sections, those where the Narrator introduces the cast at the start and closes the story at the end, each about a chapter or so each, while the bulk of the novel in-between is the Narrators recollection of the Time Travellers account of their travel. Here, I say their for a very important reason- by the Narrators account the Time Traveller is a man, while the Time Traveller does nothing to speak of their gender or race during the story.
The reason this is fascinating, is that during their travels the Time Traveller meets a meek, child-like Eloi woman who accompanies them on their future adventure. Reading the Time Traveller as intended as a man, presents a view of Victorian gender relations, where women were treated as child-like and in need of a man for protection. However, I found myself attempting to read the story and interpret it as though the Time Traveller could have been a woman and comparing the subtext. Reading the Time Traveller as a woman however, Weena becomes more like a child-like companion, and it reads less like a patriarchal reinforcement of a man overseeing the safety of a woman, but more as a story of a woman managing their maternal instincts against their scientific drive and desire to return home – and funnily enough this reminded me of Aliens.
Given that people often lament the lack of female leads in fiction and movies, this seems to be one where the role could easily be played or read as a woman with very little change to the original text.