The Machine Stops (1909) by Edward Morgan Forster

machine_stopsPart 1: The Airship

This futuristic novel, clustered with linguistic techniques, begins with a detailed scene set by the prolific English novelist and essayist Edward Morgan Forster (1879 – 1970). Opening with a timeless word such as ‘Imagine’ already tells the reader that they are going to be taken on a Journey.  Forster seems to ideally create the imagery of ‘…a small room, hexagonal in shape’, only a few words in Forster intentionally embeds one of the recurring motifs in this novel which is isolation and containment. Foster then uses a simile to compare the idea of ‘a small room’ to be as tight nit ‘…the cell of a bee’- much like how well known poets like Edward Thomas (1878-1917) and Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) have used ambiguity to subtlety suggest something while leaving the assumption to the reader. Forster describes symbols first to allow the reader to immediately differentiate between the idea of a utopia to be nothing more than a dystopia. This means that Forster describes the room with what is not present, ‘…lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance’ this oxymoron plays on the readers imagination because description of the arbitrary window and lamb juxtaposed against a  soft radiance divides the scenario.

With this in mind, the narrator indulges the readers senses, since we learn that this ‘room’ has no ‘ventilation’ just odoured with a fresh smell. Perhaps this atmospheric neutral ambiance is key to the narrative. As the narrative develops, we begin to understand a theme of “homelessness”.

Part 2: The Mending Apparatus

Part 3: The Homeless



Reference list:

Forster, E. and Mengham, R. (1997) The Machine Stops and other stories. London: André Deutsch.





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