The Horrors of Humanity

One may originally be inclined to classify The Island of Dr. Moreau as science fiction- after all, our antagonist is a mad scientist who in a quest for knowledge using futuristic technology, facilitates the destruction of himself, Montgomery, and the society of the Beast Men. Upon closer review however, we see that the element of science fiction is only a device used by H.G Wells to further the plot and reveal the true meaning behind the story. Namely, The Island of Dr. Moreau is H.G Well’s way of unmasking the bestiality present in humanity and the hypocrisy of our own society. In this light, we can see that The Island of Dr. Moreau is more so a horror story than it is a tale of science-fiction.

The horror in The Island of Doctor Moreau comes with the realization that all men can revert to a more animalistic state of being much like the Beast Men do once Dr. Moreau dies. We see this reversion in Prendick when he is living amongst the animals with no human companionship: “My clothes hung about me as yellow rags…my hair grew long… my eyes had a strange brightness” (Wells 98). We also witness this with Montgomery after Dr. Moreau dies- he runs outside and offers the Beast Men drink, lowering his position to that of the animal. Prendick at the end of the novel comes to the conclusion that men are beasts at heart when he returns to London: “I see faces keen and bright, others dull or dangerous, others unsteady, insincere; none that have the calm authority of a reasonable soul” (Wells 103). When Pendrick returns to London he lives in fear that the people around him will begin to revert to their bestial forms. After all, what other than our own self-recognition keeps us towards the upper end of humanity?

Another horror of the story worth mentioning is the recognition that there is nothing we can do to abstain from sinning. The Beast Men could not help but be beasts and all on the island knew that the Law was in vain: “‘The stubborn beast flesh grows day by day back again’” (Wells 90). Similarly, original sin is a natural part of mankind. One can try to abstain from it, but like the Beasts, will eventually have to break the Law.

 

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One response to “The Horrors of Humanity

  1. Sophi

    I really enjoy your perspective. To me it seems that what you said about our own “self-recognition” being the reason we develop and keep certain habitual behaviors is very true and applicable to real life.
    When we consider that it is our society that forces us to maintain our physical appearance, behaviors, etc. we realize that we, in effect, mirror what is expected. So, in London, it may be important to be well groomed and clean, on the island among the Beast Men it may be more important to be a good hunter and protector instead of caring physically about how you look.
    I also agree with your position on the Law and original sin. As animals with instinctual urges, it is almost a pessimistic thought to consider that we can never achieve an “ideal” or “righteous” life, at least not comfortably. This draws a great parallel with the Beast Men who, in their attempts to obey the Law, are constantly fighting their natural urges to maintain a lifestyle that Dr. Moreau approves of.

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