Let nature be nature

The island of Dr. Moreau, tome, belongs in the genre of dystopian literature. Meriam Webster’s dictionary defines ‘dystopian’ as “An imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives”. Other definition also include that dystopian literature often includes a strong warning to humanity about its state and behaviorisms.

In The Island of Dr. Moreau, the reader is presented with such an unrealistic world in which human being tries to make humans out of animals. Wells seems to warn against this human interference with the law of nature. This is seen his depiction of Dr. Moreau who remains throughout the story a very cold and emotionally unattached figure who wants to dominate nature. It says: “Each time I dip a living creature into the bath of burning pain, I say: this time I will burn out all the animal” (59), Here Dr. Monreau is clearly depicted as violent and his will to dominate becomes apparent.

However at the end of the book, Pendrick comes to the conclusion that human being will never understand itself and life fully. He himself is having a hard time to get his life together after he returns to civilization, since everybody seems to question his sanity. However upon looking at the stars het meditates that somehow the truth lies in “ the vast eternal laws of matter rather than in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men” (104) Since the later are only bestial.

It is hard to come to a thorough understanding of what Wells wants to say but to me it seems that he is saying: let nature be nature and let men be men. Men can not rule over animal since men in itself is only limited.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Let nature be nature

  1. It was very insightful of you to categorize The Island of Dr. Moreau as a dystopian novel. After reading your post, I see that the novel very much fits the dystopian genre. Dystopia is a society full of human misery and what could fit this definition more than a society full of beasts who do not reap the benefits of being fully human and yet seem to suffer all the consequences of humanity? Moreover, the novel mirrors the dystopia of our present society by making the animals live under a law that they can not possibly abide by, much like the laws that the Bible imposes upon men. Both the Bible and Dr. Moreau admit that it would be impossible for their worshippers to live by these codes. The effect of these harsh laws is to create a dystopia since all of the members of society are made sinners and criminals through no fault of their own.

  2. aeernst

    I think it’s very interesting how you mention the “dehumanization” of man and how that applies to this text, and I believe you are completely correct in saying that this is a warning of the limits of man. If we look at Dr. Moreau as being a god-like figure and the Beast People as his creation, his version of man, we see the limitations of humanity. The Beast People constantly struggle to abide by “the law” and remain as human as possible, but their animalistic ways shine through. Man is limited because we have instincts and natural desires as well, and we constantly fight them in the same way the Beast People did.

  3. autumncassidy

    I just wanted to segway into an idea that I had while reading your post. Although this is a digression, your idea of classifying this novel as a dystopian work inspired a contrast. Although islands are often depicted culturally as a “utopia” in popular culture with the exoticism and novelty that the idea of an island inspires, I thought it was interesting that in the works that we have read, the classical idea of the tropical island associated with freedom, casualty, and pleasure can become so perverse. This is particularly present in this novel with the cruelty, as you mentioned, and the unnatural distortion of physical forms. When Prendrick is saved from floating aimlessly around the ocean, the island offers the promise of life to him, while later in the novel, he nearly commits suicide rather than be taken and morphed himself, as he believes the common-practice of Moreau’s experimentation entails. This idea of perversion of even the object of the island fits into your idea of this book as a dystopian novel.

  4. I saw the dystopic elements, as well. Moreau has isolated himself and devoted his life to perfecting his science, and he begins to delude himself into thinking that he is committing perfection. From an outside perspective though (Prendick), it is apparent how unperfect his work is, primarily deriving from its opposition to nature. The animals have to endure insufferable, unnatural pain, and they have to commit to Moreau’s aberrant commands. I think it is appropriate too for Wells to incorporate this dystopia because it amplifies the religious satire. Once one believes he can defy nature, just as religious groups believe they can defy natural laws (such as praying their problems away), then there is only delusion and mayhem. I also have to agree with autumncassidy’s comment; I thought the anomalousness of the island’s function was interesting. Whenever I think of an island, I think of a paradise, which I almost feel like is what Wells was investing in.

  5. I have a hard time classifying the story into dystopian literature, because I do not believe the tale portrayed the beast men as dehumanized. I think they were never human in the first place, so how could they become dehumanized? I suppose the story does show the difference from animals to human if you were to view it as an evolutionary process. I also cannot see how the novel serves as a warning to humanity about its state and behaviors. The warning I took away from the story was power of technology and its ability to corrupt and make one question morality. I agree with your point that Dr. Moreau serves as a warning of human beings should not attempt to mess with nature. I believe this goes hand and hand with your closing paragraph and conclusions, and is an important theme that is still relevant today.

  6. stperry1

    I really enjoyed the fact that you looked at this story as dystopian. I had not thought about that prior to discussions in class and it really made me consider how this novel could be applied in other ways. Reading this post made me think even further about how this story applies to the concept of dystopia and I have to agree that it does fit. Although I still think there were other genres that may have applied more obviously or include more aspects of the story, I believe its important to explore all the options and take note of the different ways a text can be utilized.

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