The Machine Stops Analysis

The Machine Stops Analysis

The Machine Stops E.M. Foster is an enticing short story that portrays a possible dystopian future. In the story the characters live in a world that is ruled by “the machine” and have been living underground due to the unsuitable conditions at the Earth’s surface. Over many years the people below the surface began to change and worship the machine. With all thoughts on the machine new ideas and thoughts are shunned and so is human interaction. The story follows Vashti and her son Kuno as they struggle to keep their relationship and live underground in a corrupt world controlled by a machine. E.M. Foster’s The Machine Stops argues that a world controlled by technology will eventually turn catastrophic for the human race.

The machine in theory is an excellent idea and had saved the human race but the further I read into the story I realized that there were many things wrong with the new underground society. The main issue I found was isolation and little to no human contact. “The clumsy system of public gatherings had been long since abandoned; neither Vashti nor her audience stirred from their rooms.” (4) The people who lived in the machine no longer communicated face to face but from monitor to monitor. This lack of human interaction has led to a dependency for the machine and has brain washed the people who live within it. “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, vaguely shocked. “You mustn’t say anything against the machine.” As you can see Vashti and most of the other people inside the machine fear it and even refuse to speak bad about it in fear of their own lives.

Another thing that I found very interesting while reading was the capitalization of the words Machine, Book and Committee. Maybe this symbolizes a higher authority figure such as god. On page 17 the “re-establishment” of religion comes into play. This society knows that the book was made by humans but seems to be referring to it as something that is of a higher power. “They described the strange feeling of peace when they handled the Book of the Machine.”  This shows a form of faith that the society has in the machine even though humans built with the technology they had obtained. We later learn that the machine was bound to eventually fail and that the underground society would come to an end. “The machine stops.” “the machine is stopping, I know it, I know the signs”. Kuno proclaims this to Vashti to warn her after he has made it to the Earth’s surface showing that the reliance on technology ended up leading to a corrupt society that never had a chance of succeeding.

The Machine Stops argues that an over reliance on technology will end up leading to a society that has no chance of survival. Throughout the story isolation because of technology leads little human interaction and an over reliance on machines. Even though humans created the machine they worship it as a power that can be unmatched and invincible. Technology ended up replacing any other authority figures for this society including religious figures such as god’s or kings. That was the point that E.M. Foster was trying to portray across in this short story.



1 thought on “The Machine Stops Analysis

  1. Andrew,
    Your response was very insightful and it brought about a strong point that society,as a whole, musn’t rely too much on technology as a tragic outcome might occur as it did in Forster’s short story. I also found your view about “the Machine” becoming a religion of some sort very interesting. You could possibly expand in your argument and speak more about how “the machine” implements “cult-like” characteristics on the underground society.

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