In the novel “The Machine Stops”, Forster portrays an imaginary world where people create and depend on the Machine. The Machine is made of a huge mechanism under the ground, and all the necessary elements for people to live such as water, air and food are all produced and transported by the tunnels throughout the Machine. Everyone lives in a single room and communicates with each other through the Machine. There is something called “Mending Apparatus” that works in case some parts of the Machine cannot function properly. For people then, “Homelessness” means death. In such a time, people value opinions other than facts, artificiality other than nature, indirect communication other than direct contact, similarity other than difference. People are so dependent on the Machine that when the Machine stops to work, all the people have no choice but to die.
This novel gives several interesting contradictions. The society depending on the Machine seems to be very advanced, but human beings are so primitive that they can do nothing by themselves. People seem to reject any religions and supernatural beliefs, but their actions to worship the Machine and to observe the Book are just like Christians’ respect for the God and the Bible. Kuno seems to be the only prophet who is able to think about the potential crisis and willing to get out of the Machine, but isn’t he just like any other foolish people who only believes what they think is the “truth”?
From my perspective, it is necessary to think about what lead to the death of the humanity in this novel. Kuno says at last: “Humanity has learnt its lesson.” What exactly is the lesson? In the novel, the direct reason seems to be that the Machine stops working. However, the Machine itself doesn’t do anything wrong, because it can neither think nor lead people to death on purpose. After all, it is just a tool created to help people live better. Thus, we can come to the conclusion that it’s humans’ fault of not thinking of the probability that the Machine may stop working that leads to their death. Not thinking of the probability means not doing any precautions to survive without the Machine.
However, why are people so sure that the Machine can’t go wrong? The first reason is that they are born with the Machine, just like we are born with the air. For them, it is beyond doubt that the Machine will work forever, just as it has been doing for centuries before. The second reason is that the society keeps telling them that how perfect and omnipotent the Machine is, while nobody educates them to doubt. All the celebrities (famous lecturers) and authorities (the Central Committee and the Book) teach people to believe in the Machine, while any voice of doubts (like Kuno) are not accepted and understood. The different voices will be exiled from the society, just like Kuno. Any society free of critiques and precautions will come to death.
So basically, there are two lessons for humanity. The first is not to take anything for granted, especially those that determine your life. The second is to learn to be skeptical of everything you receive. In conclusion, do not accept as you learn! Think of every potential crisis and take precautions.