The first notable instance of time travel occurs in a novel occurs in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, but concepts of moving through time can be traced even further back into the earliest of mythologies. By the 20th century, time travel became even more prominent, frequently occurring in literature as well as film and television.
So far in Joanna Russ’ The Female Man, I’ve found time travel to be one of its most fascinating mechanics. These jumps through time play a major role in the advancement of the novel’s plot, though they are usually unannounced and unexpected, often leaving the reader confused. Though at times they have left me confused, I cannot help but be fascinated by them. This led me wonder, why as readers are we so drawn to this concept of traveling through time?
I think one of the major draws of time travel is a discontentment with the present. When characters grow discontent with the present time they are in, they may form a desire to travel to another time, believing that it will be better than the time they are currently in. As readers, we can identify with this discontentment with our own present and also hope that time travel will bring us to a more fulfilling time. However, this different time usually ends up not being as expected and often contains many of the same problems that were a part of the original time.
But because of this, I think that another major draw of time travel is that it shows the universality of the human experience. No matter the time period, humans still experience the same emotions, feelings, and problems. Through learning this in a different time period, it provides us with an even better understanding of our own times.