“Books—bright windows in this life of ours, lit by the shining souls of men.”– The Island of Dr. Moreau as Science Fiction

H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau is a highly versatile novel which can easily be classified within numerous genres. However, the most applicable genre to the theme of the novel and the overall specifics is that of science fiction. Science fiction can be defined as the stylistic genre which incorporates elements of the unreal, specifically through use of technology or scientific discoveries, in order to create novelty. Because of the setting of the novel, the overall mystique surrounding the island, and additionally the experimentation which takes place in this work, The Island of Doctor Moreau is a novel which deftly adheres to the definition of what science fiction entails.

The situation which surrounds Prendick’s salvation is one of mystery. The events seem fantastical and purely by chance. Floating in and out of consciousness, Prendick is unaware of how he is saved and who he is saved by. Unsure of who to owe his salvation to, the reflective period of the first few chapters aid to the mystery. As one that was unaware of his surroundings, the beginning of the novel has an air of uncertainty and the idea of Prendrick being an unreliable witness to his own salvation is established. The entire novel, in fact, is reliant upon Prendrick’s disbelief at the situation he has found himself in. This air of mystery of the island and its inhabitants reinforces the unreal aspect of science fiction genre.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the experimentation which takes place on the island is the integral aspect which stabilizes this novel’s science fiction classification. “These creatures you have seen are animals carven and wrought into new shapes. To that– to the study of the plasticity of living forms– my life has been devoted (53)”. As Doctor Moreau explains to Prendrick in this quotation, the “humans” which Prendrick has been encountering on the island were not born into their present state. The experimentation of Doctor Moreau molds and mutilates them into something supernatural, also reminiscent of science fiction. With the unnatural experimentation as the vehicle for advancement on the island, The Island of Dr. Moreau can further be cemented as a work of science fiction.

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1 Comment

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One response to ““Books—bright windows in this life of ours, lit by the shining souls of men.”– The Island of Dr. Moreau as Science Fiction

  1. smboehm

    I completely agree with your post. I especially liked the idea that Prendick’s reflective period during the first few chapters alludes greatly to the mysticism encountered on the island throughout the rest of the novel. Upon exploring the island, Prendick is faced with numerous incidents where he experiences the beast people. At first, he is left in the dark about the animal vivisection performed by Dr. Moreau; it is not until he reflects upon his knowledge and explores Dr. Moreau’s “Blue-Bear chamber.” When reading the novel in relation to the science fiction genre, the actions of animal vivisection and experiences that Prendick face in dealing with this race seems more or less a survival story rather than a grotesque doom. Although animal vivisection is horrific, Wells addresses it as a discretely passionate trial not meant to harm the animals.

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