A Tale of Science Fiction

In H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, he does more to engage the reader’s mind than by utilizing science fiction. Consider this story from a fairy-tale perspective: the tale does not always have a happy ending, but it maintains a means of providing some sort of message. In The Island, Wells uses traits of science fiction as a vessel to carry the message of human nature: evolution occurs in its own time, and any individual who attempts to hasten it, in turn, hastens his own end.

Many other science fiction novels portray images of fantasy and the like, but Wells chooses to stay closer to something more realistic. Remember that there are scientists that believe human beings are the epitome of evolution, and that human beings are as close to perfection as a living creature can be. Doctor Moreau agrees with this, but he takes it one step further: he believes that our rational nature can recreate other animals to be just as rational. He even says that “a pig may be educated” (51) as though moral education, “an artificial modification and perversion of instinct” (52), is one way to be considered human. This is evidence in his declaration of “the Law”, resembling much of what is our idea of religion.

True, this message is still a scientific one, but the message is not what makes the fairy tale, but the presence of a message and a means of projecting it through the characters’ actions. By using the “creatures-turned-human” as a way to characterize the attempted hastening of evolution by Doctor Moreau, Wells can establish a means to illustrate his message by bringing both Doctor Moreau’s (initiator of attempt) and Montgomery’s (conspirator of attempt) lives to an end.

I would consider this underlying message an accurate one since the only character to survive the Beast Men of the island is Prendick. Even as they are regaining the majority of their instinctual behaviors from which he should have died shortly after their deaths, he nonetheless is able to protect his own life because he was not one of the men who tampered with the lives of these natural born creatures. For this, Wells makes it so that Prendick is allowed to live his life off the island as the human being he once was in London.

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One response to “A Tale of Science Fiction

  1. vrosengrant20

    I have to agree that there are similarities between The Island of Dr. Moreau and a fairy tale, with how they present a message, but how that message is presented makes all the difference between the two. In a fairy tale, specifically the later versions written by either Grimm or Perrault have a clearly defined moral that the entire story is centered around and gives no explanation to how the elements of the story come to pass. On the other hand, the novel may have a message but it does stop to give an explanation for the events, like Dr. Moreau’s lecture on vivisection, and allows the reader to take their own message from the text instead of presenting them with one.

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