The Machine Stops: Review Of E.m. Forster's Story

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NEW-AGE CAVEMAN : The Imminent Future or Impracticality at its Best? Many centuries ago, ‘Man’ used to live in caves, hunt animals for food, and use animal-skin as clothing—but one man, while rubbing two sticks vigorously, managed to create fire—and the lives of cavemen changed forever. As in every situation—‘each new theory has to face innumerable challenges’—man questioned fire the same way. Many believed fire meant doom and it could end civilization as they knew it. Many others considered fire to be a boon and utilized it to cook their raw meat, keep themselves warm and to protect themselves from danger. Although, discovery of fire happened millions of years ago, we can surely consider it to be the first step man took, on his path to technology and progress. Innumerable years after this first major discovery, we can still see its relevance when every time a scientist announces ‘a change’, many civilians come forward to challenge it. In E.M. Forster’s short story—‘The Machine Stops’—the author presents to his readers a fictional world in which people are “in touch” with the help of a device called the cinematophote, and a man-made device—referred to as the ‘Machine’ (purposely capitalized and repeated innumerable times to emphasize in the story)—is silently worshipped. It is a story set in the distant future, when mankind has come to depend on a worldwide Machine for food, housing, communications and medical care. In return, humanity has abandoned the earth's surface for a life of isolation and immobility. “It is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome”: these great words of T.S. Elliot aptly sum up what the cinematophote, in Forster’s fictional world, is all about. In this enclosed world, "night and day, wind and storm, tide and earthquake, impeded man no longer. He had
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