E.M. Forster’s short story, The Machine Stops, is set in a society where humans are no longer able to survive on the surface of the Earth. In the story, the main protagonist, Vashti, lives away from her son, Kuno. Kuno has questioned society’s ways and the Machine’s functions. Furthermore, he has always been curious about the life on the world above underground.
Meanwhile, Vashti is considered to be a civilized person by others because she is always generating “ideas” and she greatly worships the Machine, much like everyone else in the society. Vashti believes that visiting the surface of the Earth and having direct contact is brainless and feebleminded. Vashti is fully dependent on the Machine and completely follows the rules of the society without question. The machine, in theory, is an amazing concept which saved the humanity, but there are many things wrong with this society.
One issue is isolation and little to no human contact, but instead through the Machine. “The clumsy system of public gatherings had been long since abandoned; neither Vashti nor her audience stirred from their rooms.” (4) The people who call the Machine home no communicate via monitors, and not in person. This expiration of human interaction has made humans dependent on the Machine. “I want to see you not through the machine,” said Kuno. “I want to speak to you not through the wearisome Machine.” “Oh Hush!”, said his mother, uttered shockingly. “You mustn’t say anything against the machine.
” This quote depicts the fear people have of the Machine and how they are afraid to challenge it, even in language. Another way that this society is illustrated as dystopian is how the Machine is the authority figure. In this short story, the word “Machine is always capitalized, displaying its importance.
This “godly” depiction comes into play on page 17, where religion is re-established. “They described the strange feeling of peace when they handled the Book of the Machine.” They worshipped this book like it was something along the lines of the Holy Bible, Torah, or Quran, even though the Machine is a creation of humanity. We learn in a later part of the story that the machine will eventually fail and along with it, the underground society.The Machine Stops is a great depiction of humanity in a dystopian society, portraying a setting similar to Nazi Germany, or Stalinist Russia, where people were afraid of questioning the government.
, and even worshipped and revered their leaders as great men. This story is a parallel to these countries and the citizens that revered their leaders.