Science Fiction and Fairy Tales

I think it is quite difficult to place The Island of Dr. Moreau into one specific genre.  H.G. Wells wrote this book at a time before science fiction was really considered a genre of literature.  With this being so, I do believe the genre that most fits this book is science fiction.  I also believe that some aspects of fairy tales are present in this book.

I think this book does fit into the genre of science fiction for a few reasons.  First of all, the subject of this story involves scientists!  Vivisection, the main subject of this book is very much a science fiction idea.  The fact that some of the characters in the book were vivisecting animals to make them into humans is absolutely absurd, and quite horrifying.  Especially with European scientists having a big debate about the ethics involved with animal vivisection at the time this book was written; makes the book and its subject even more scary.

One way The Island of Dr. Moreau connects to other things, (specifically fairy tales) that we have read so far, happens near the beginning of the book.  An old man, who we later find out is Dr. Moreau tells Prendick, “Our little establishment here contains a secret or so, is a kind of Bluebeard’s Chamber, in fact” (Wells 21).  I was so shocked when I read this in the book!  This is a blatant connection to fairy tales, for “Bluebeard’s Chamber” contained the bodies of the past wives he had.  If anyone reading this book knew anything about Bluebeard, they would know if a secret “kind of like Bluebeard’s Chamber” was on that island, it would have to be a huge and horrifying secret.

The fairy tale of Bluebeard served as a lesson (when it was told orally and especially once it had been written down) to be learned and a forewarning to wives about how terrible marriage can be.  I believe The Island of Dr. Moreau teaches the same kind of lesson; being that advances in science and attempting to control nature will not work.  Nature will most always run its course.

 

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One response to “Science Fiction and Fairy Tales

  1. siegvald

    I agree that this is one of the many possible interpretations of the story. When the beast people began to slowly revert back to their original animal forms, it implies that Moreau should have left well enough alone—that his experiments, or attempts to improve on animal life, didn’t really have an effect because they didn’t last. Also, even thought the humanized animals went back to being animals, they didn’t revert back 100%. “Each was tainted with other creatures . . . and the dwindling shreds of humanity still startled me.” So, not only was Moreau’s actions unsuccessful (success according to him), but they had a reverse negative effect on the poor animals. They were forever changed in more than one way.

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