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Disillusioned Civilization

'Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives is the Machine?'
Forster, ''The Machine Stops'' -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

This story really makes you think. All of the advancing technology we have does make everything much more convenient, but like everything else, we need to be careful we don't go too far with it. In this story, everything is connected to the Machine. No one in this underground civilization can survive without it, as is proved at the end. People constantly refer to it as if it is a person--and it does at times almost seem as if it is the Machine that controls the people, instead of the other way around. People even begin to worship the thing as if it is some devine being. It really is sad that only one character seems to realize this--and due to his original thinking, he is threatened with Homelessness (a punishment thought to mean death). No one is original anymore. All originality is shunned and thought to be "blasphemous"--yet another way in which it is clear that people seem to think the Machine is divine. It is a very disturbing thought.


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Comments (3)

This is such a great science fiction story. The fact that they couldn't survive without technology kind of reminded me of Y2K, too. It is scary to think what we would happen to us if all technology stopped working. Once again, E.M. Forster is blessed with the Eye in predicting how dependent we would become on technology!


It seems that any time we become too dependent on one controlling body an original thought suddenly becomes "blasphemy" and is punished severely. The church in the middle ages had that kind of control, and really any ruling body without codes to protect freedom of speech. And the genera population accepts the punishments because they don't want to sacrifice the safety they have, even if it is oppressive. But, like Forster's Machine, it always falls apart eventually.

Derek Tickle:

I do agree that we must be careful that we do not take technology too far. I thought it was interesting how the machine seemed to run the people's lives instead of the other way around. Just as Matthew stated, everyone was worried when Y2K came because they didnt know what would happen to the computers. In addition to that, Forster predicted that we would become dependent upon technology. This seems to be true. I also thought that it was a disturbing thought that the machine seemed to be divine. Everyone depended on it for almost everything instead of thinking on their own.

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