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Dystopian Fiction: The Machine Stops

8 Pages 1920 Words April 2019

The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster is a depiction of a dystopian future that is governed by technology, which ultimately proves to be catastrophic for the human race. In this novella, Forster describes a technocratic world in which people are primarily dependent upon the “Machine” for all their needs, including communication and survival. Humans have abandoned terrestrial life, and now lead lives of isolation in honeycomb-like “cells” below the ground. Forster narrates this novella through the relationship of mother and son-Vashti and Kuno-who live at opposite ends of the earth and struggle to keep their relationship. They both represent contrasting ideas with respect to the Machine. While Vashti is a firm believer and worshipper of the Machine, Kuno, on the other hand, is a rebel and strongly criticizes Vashti’s faith in the Machine. Ultimately, Kuno’s fears prove to be true as the Machine breaks down, annihilating the civilization and failing to be the savior of humankind. Thus, I want to argue that humans are the ones to be held responsible for their aloofness, loss of love and creativity, and self-destruction because of their over-reliance on and everlasting faith in technology.
Mankind’s over-dependence on technology leads to a complete breakdown of human interaction and communication. Forster begins the story by describing Vashti’s room, which is part of a subterranean world and is like a small cell in the shape of a honeycomb lacking any form of natural light or ventilation. The room contains nothing; yet, she has access to everything she needs ranging from food to a hot bath, to music and literature, by touching a few buttons. This shows that Vashti has allowed the Machine to control her day-to-day life to such an extent that she is completely cut-off from her natural surroundings. Her room is an accurate representation of her circumscribed life, aloof from the world. The “cell” she lives in is a metaphor for...

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