The Idea Of Future Progress In Civilisation English Literature Essay

The thought of future advancement in civilization was an of import issue in Victorian society, with observers such as Darwin and Marx coming to the head of society. Darwin ‘s theory of development was an of import subject during the clip of H.G. Well ‘s authorship and can be seen in many elements of literature between 1850 and 1930. Marxist positions on category and labour issues were besides going more of import during this epoch of the late 19th and early twentieth Century. Elementss of the advancement of civilization can be seen efficaciously in The Time Machine by H.G.Wells. It can besides be seen as a important subject within Joseph Conrad ‘s Heart of Darkness. In The Time Machine, through the description of the Eloi to the treatments about category differences, we get an thought of the writer ‘s positions on the advancement of civilization along with critic ‘s thoughts on what Wells is stating about civilization. Whilst in Heart of Darkness, through the frights of “ traveling native ” to the word picture of both Africans and Europeans, we besides get a position of the deficiency of assurance in the advancement of civilization. In this essay, I will analyze how confident the literature of this period ( 1850-1930 ) is in the advancement of civilization concentrating on The Time Machine and Heart of Darkness.

Initially when the storyteller lands in this new epoch of clip, he is complimentary about his new milieus and at that place seems to be a sense of optimism about the sense of patterned advance of civilization:

“ You have ne’er seen the similar can barely conceive of what delicate and fantastic flowers infinite old ages of civilization had created… As I went with them the memory of my confident expectancies of a profoundly grave and rational descendants came, with resistless gaiety, to my head. ” ( Wells 2005: 25-26 )

However even though at that place does look to be a sense of assurance expressed here, this is non the overall instance. One of the chief ways in which we can see The Time Machine showcasing a deficiency of assurance in the advancement of civilization is the fact that a deficiency of assurance becomes bit by bit more apparent even merely after the initial optimism:

“ As I stood at that place in the assemblage dark I thought that in this simple account I had mastered the job of the universe… Very simple was my account, and plausible plenty – as most incorrect theories are! ” ( Wells 2005: 33 )

After antecedently noticing about the scene in which he has merely arrived and congratulating it, we now get a deficiency of assurance in this idea. The fact that the storyteller now expresses a deficiency of assurance in his old regards about civilization in the hereafter provides the reader with a position that literature during this period does non show a sense of assurance in the advancement of civilization.

Following on from the initial ideas of the storyteller, we can farther see a deficiency of assurance in the advancement of civilization in the description that Wells gives us of the two races populating the Earth during this clip period. For illustration, one of the first ways in which we get a less than impressive position of civilization in 802,000 is the description about the Eloi race:

“ were these animals saps? … You see I had ever anticipated that the people of the twelvemonth Eight Hundred and Two Thousand odd would be improbably in forepart of us in cognition, art, everything. Then one of them all of a sudden asked me a inquiry that showed him to be on the rational degree of one of our five twelvemonth old kids. ” ( Wells 2005: 25 )

This childlike quality dismisses the position that the storyteller had of the population of this clip being more rational than the people of his ain clip. The Eloi race is depicted as childlike animals that have lost the sense of intelligence and civilization from old clip periods. Darwin ‘s theory of development seemed to be indicating towards mankind progressing and seemed besides to be positive in the visible radiation of how we had progressed from ape like animals to human existences. However, alternatively of patterned advance, there seems to be a sense of arrested development refering civilization in the hereafter when reading The Time Machine. This deficiency of assurance is echoed by Wells ‘ ain point of view. He argues that “ there is no warrant in scientific cognition of adult male ‘s permanency or adult male ‘s dominance. ” ( Wells 2000: 12 ) This is farther highlighted by critics such as Parrinder, who argue that, “ Wells presents both the theory and the experience of zoological degeneration and human deposition. ” ( Parrinder 58 ) The ideas expressed by Parrinder and Wells himself merely serve to foreground the position further that literature during this clip period did non show a sense of assurance in the advancement of civilization.

As said, the description given of the Eloi in Time Machine adds farther ammo to the thought that there is non much hope in the advancement of civilization. This deficiency of hope is farther intensified when we look at the thought of category divisions evident within the novel. Class and labour issues were an of import issue during the clip in which The Time Machine was being written, and this was particularly true refering the plants of Karl Marx. Class issues had progressively been going a cardinal issue in Victorian society. We can even see the importance of category issues in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, with Pip desiring to increase his societal standing throughout the novel. In his missive to F Lasalle, Marx commented that Darwin ‘s theory had helped him in his footing for category battle in history. As critics such as Stableford have said, many have seen the divisions between the Eloi and Morlocks as an illustration of the category divisions within Victorian society at the clip. ( Stableford, 58 ) In The Time Machine, it is clear to see this category battle still being apparent in this future epoch of the human race:

“ Continuing from the jobs of our ain age, it seemed clear as daytime to me that the gradual broadening of the present impermanent and societal difference between the Capitalist and Labourer, was the key to the whole place. ” ( Wells, 2005: 48 )

It is clear from this quotation mark that the storyteller has seen no farther patterned advance from the period ( nineteenth Century ) he has come from to this new epoch of the human race. This point is emphasised farther when he compares what he is seeing to what is go oning in modern-day London at the clip:

“ There is a inclination to use belowground infinite for the less cosmetic intents of civilisation ; there is the Metropolitan Railway in London… it had gone deeper and deeper into larger and of all time larger resistance… Even now, doe non an East-end worker live in such unreal conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the Earth? … So, in the terminal, above land you must hold the Rich persons… and below land the Have-nots, the Workers acquiring continually adapted to the conditions of their labor. ( Wells, 2005: 48 )

Here, it is apparent to see that civilization has non improved since the storyteller ‘s clip. Alternatively of a new Utopia that he thought he had reached, the antonym is seen and the spread between the upper and lower categories has really widened since the 19th century. This besides seems to function as a warning to the writer ‘s ain society, and this position is expressed by Parrinder and Philmus who comment that Wells was warning “ his coevalss of the destructiveness of that could be unleashed by modern civilization. ” ( Parrinder & A ; Philmus 226 ) In relation to category issues, this could be Wells foregrounding to coevalss that the category job in Victorian society is something that needs to be tackled in order to come on civilization. This statement adds farther support to the thought that the literature between 1850-1930 did non hold assurance in the advancement of civilization.

The description about the scene and the environing country where the storyteller arrives besides tends to give a sense of a deficiency of patterned advance in civilization. We are told by the storyteller that some of the castles he had visited “ were mere life topographic points, great dining halls & A ; flats. ” ( Wells, 2005: 41 ) . Besides we are told that there were no stores or workshops. The scene in which he describes seems to concentrate on the devolution of society and the fact that this universe in the 802,000s is basically filled with ruins of past epochs: “ I found the Palace of Green Porcelain… deserted and falling into ruin. Merely ragged traces of glass remained in its Windowss, and great sheets of the green facing had fallen off from the corroded metallic model. ” ( Wells 2005: 64 ) The image of edifices in ruin and the absence of any commercialism ( due to the fact there are no stores or workshops ) gives farther precedency to the thought that alternatively of giving a ballot of assurance to patterned advance in civilization, literature during this clip period seems to indicate towards a arrested development in civilization.

However, it is n’t merely in The Time Machine that the thought of the patterned advance ( or devolution ) of civilization is apparent. In Joseph Conrad ‘s Heart of Darkness the thought of civilization and whether it can come on or necessarily reasoning backward is confronted. One of the chief ways in which we see this fright of deficiency of patterned advance going clear in Conrad ‘s novel is through the fright of “ traveling native ” . “ Traveling native ” in the novel is the fright of going like the native African race. For illustration, in the beginning of the novel, when Marlow criticises Fresleven, Marlow seems to possess a critical tone towards the fact that Fresleven had emerged himself into African civilization:

“ He had been a twosome of old ages out already out at that place in the baronial cause, you known, and he likely felt the demand at last of asseverating his dignity in some manner. ” ( Conrad 109 )

The tone evident here in the sentence by Marlow is to a great extent critical of the manner that Fresleven had emerged himself in the civilization by shuffling over some biddies. However, it is through Kurtz that we can see the unfavorable judgment of “ traveling native ” . Marlow remarks on how “ the original Kurtz ” was person who ‘s “ understandings were in the right topographic point. ” ( Conrad 154 ) Furthermore, Marlow tells us about how at the terminal of a study, there is a handwritten PS stating: “ Exterminate all the beasts. ” ( Conrad 155 ) There seems to be a warning in Conrad ‘s text of “ traveling native ” and that it involves a backward manner of thought. As Brantlinger remarks, “ For Conrad the ultimate atrociousness is non some signifier of tribal savageness, but Kurtz ‘s arrested development… he has gone native… he betrays the ideals of the civilization he is purportedly importing. ” There seems to be an statement here that no affair how civilised a being you are, there is still a opportunity that they will regress and go as “ barbarian ” as what they perceive the local population to be. Therefore, it is clear to see that, once more, Conrad does non possess a sense of assurance in the advancement of human life, and in bend, his work suggests besides that literature during this clip period did non possess assurance in the thought of the advancement of civilization.

Closely linked to the thought in the novel that Africa may “ turn ” civilized people into “ barbarians ” is the position expressed early on the narrative about Western civilizations when Marlow starts speaking about London: “ And this besides… has been one of the dark topographic points of the Earth. ” ( Conrad 105 ) This position is further expressed by Marlow when depicting how a immature Roman would experience when first come ining London:

“ But darkness was here yesterday… Imagine him here – the very terminal of the universe… and in some inland station experience the savageness, the arrant savageness… He has to populate in the thick of the incomprehensible, which is besides abhorrent. ” ( Conrad 106 )

There seems to be a clear position expressed here that non all Western civilizations have been “ civilized ” states for their being. An illustration is made of London here in the fact that it was n’t until the Romans that civilization entered into the mainstream idea in London. This point is farther echoed by Eagleton who adds that “ the message of Heart of Darkness is that Western civilization is it every bit base every bit brutal as African society. ” ( Eagleton 135 ) When we look at the above illustrations it is clear that this position can be applied to Conrad ‘s novel. There seems to be no hope in any peculiar race being classed as “ civilized ” and this thought is farther echoed by the actions of the Europeans in Africa. The barbarian nature of the Europeans and their selfish motivations merely seem to add to the position that no 1 peculiar race can be classed as “ civilized. ” Therefore, once more, it can be argued that there is a deficiency of assurance in the advancement of civilization in literature during this period and this is seen clearly in Conrad ‘s thought that ( as Eagleton commented ) Western civilizations are basically as barbaric and barbarian as the African states in which they want to advance civilization.

The description of the African population in Heart of Darkness does non offer much hope to the reader desiring to hold some ballot of assurance of the advancement of civilization. Observers such as Achebe have accused the book of racism. For illustration, Achebe remarks:

“ Conrad is a ‘bloody racialist ‘ … ‘Africa as a scene and background which eliminates the African as human factor. Africa as a metaphysical battleground devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the rolling European enters at his hazard. ” ( Achebe, 788 )

Merely like the Morlocks in The Time Machine, Achebe argues here that the African race is represented as people devoid of all human traits. For illustration, when the soft-shell clam is attacked we can acquire a clear thought of Africans being depicted as barbaric: “ Catch ‘im… Give ‘im to us… Eat ‘im. ” ( Conrad, 144 ) Here the Africans in the novel are presented as cannibalistic and hence a arrested development of what a normal civilized society would be like. These cold qualities are made even clearer by the storyteller ‘s description of the African people he is go throughing on the soft-shell clam:

“ The soft-shell clam toiled along easy on the border of a black and inexplicable craze. The prehistoric adult male was cussing us, praying to us, welcoming us – who could state… roving and in secret appalled, as sane work forces would be. ” ( Conrad, 139 )

The fact that the African people in this scene are described as “ prehistoric ” and besides the added point that “ sane work forces ” would be appalled at these jokes once more gives us a position of a people who have regressed from normal civilized society. Therefore, this word picture of the African race in Heart of Darkness does non show a high degree of assurance in the advancement of civilization, since it seems as though we are still stuck in a clip that non all of society has “ civilised ” , and this later gives the position that literature during this clip did non hold assurance in the advancement of civilization.

However, The Time Machine and Heart of Darkness can non be written off as texts which show no hope in the advancement of civilization whatsoever. In The Time Machine, there does be some hope in the advancement of civilization. The fact that a member of the human race would be able to construct a clip machine is something that shows a sense of hope. The thought of adult male being able to construct and pull off a piece of engineering like this demonstrates that adult male can be rational and we do hold the power to alter our universe and better our cognition of either the hereafter or yesteryear. Besides, the fact that the Morlocks still had a sense of cognition and involvement in engineering besides promotes a sense of assurance in the thought of the advancement of civilization and even in the twelvemonth 802,700, there would still be an involvement in engineering. Besides, the storyteller makes a point that the human race had finally reached the sense of a Utopia. Surely this shows some assurance in the advancement of civilization since the universe had now reached a flawlessness?

In Heart of Darkness, it can be argued that there is besides a sense of hope. Even though there is a unfavorable judgment that London was, like Africa in the novel, one time “ barbarian ” , the fact that ( in the novel and existent life ) it has now reached a high point in civilization and is regarded as a civilized society expresses a sense of hope that a topographic point can travel from being classed as “ barbarian ” to be regarded as “ civilized ” . This shows that civilization can come on and therefore literature during this period does show some assurance in the thought of the advancement of civilization.

In decision, it is clear to see that literature during the late nineteenth Century and early twentieth Century, peculiarly The Time Machine and Heart of Darkness did non show a sense of assurance in the advancement of civilization. As seen, from the deficiency of assurance ab initio in the novel to the description about the Eloi and their childlike qualities, there is no assurance expressed. This is emphasised farther by the divisions evident in society between the rich and hapless and the description of this future universe surrounded by ruins of past epochs. Besides, in Heart of Darkness, there is an apparent deficiency of assurance in the advancement of civilization with the unfavorable judgment of “ traveling native ” , the statement that western civilizations are merely as barbarian and barbarian as African states and the barbarian images of an African race that seem to hold regressed from a civilized race. All of these joint together seem to indicate towards a deficiency of assurance in civilization ‘s advancement. As mentioned antecedently, there does stay some hope but, to sum up, it can be argued that the literature during the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century is non entirely confident in the thought of the advancement of civilization.