Science Fiction and the Fairy Tale

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells is a difficult book to place squarely in one genre.  There are many different facets within this story, therefore, it is impossible to place one label upon it and move on.  It’s important to realize that the very fact that this story cannot be categorized is important and gives it a unique place in literature.  Although this story has many aspects of different genres, I believe that it can be most squarely placed in the genre of science fiction, with some aspects of fairy tale writing included.

The reason that The Island of Dr. Moreau fits at least to some degree within the genre of science fiction is based mostly upon the concept of vivisection that occurs on the island.  There are experiments being done on the animals of the island and Dr. Moreau is pushing the limits of vivisection beyond its boundaries by trying to create humans out of animals.  This is such a far fetched idea that it clearly aligns itself with genre of science fiction.

However, there are also some of the characteristics present in the written fairy tales we read.  During the same time that H.G. Wells wrote this story there was a great debate going on in Britain and Europe at large about vivisection and whether or not it was ethical.  By creating a “little establishment…[that] is a kind of Blue-Beard’s chamber” (Wells 19) H.G. Wells is creating a parallel to fairy tales that served a similar purpose once they were written down.  Specifically, Bluebeard was one fairy tale that offered a way for women to explore the more menacing aspects of marriage in a way that allowed much to be decided by the reader.  Similarly, The Island of Dr. Moreau offers a means for exploring the negative and dangerous aspects of vivisection.  By combining these two genres, along with aspects from others, Wells makes it possible to create and interesting science fiction story along with creating a means for reflection.



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One response to “Science Fiction and the Fairy Tale

  1. I totally agree with you on this! I actually made very similar connections as I was reading the book.
    The idea of the vivisection occurring on the island which is far removed from society is certainly a science fiction ideal. Horrific experiments are taking place at a location that the main character pretty much cannot get away from- that is scary.
    When I read the part in the book relating the island to “Bluebeard’s Chamber”, I was very surprised! I know for sure that if I heard somebody refer to a place as that, I would be completely freaked out and try to get away as fast as possible. I agree that as in Bluebeard, The Island of Dr. Moreau serves as a lesson for humanity, saying to beware of the dangers of science because it can turn out quite grim. The combination of science fiction and fairy tales is a great interpretation of The Island of Dr. Moreau, and is just one of the many interpretations that I believe there are of this book.

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