Tag Archives: Science Fiction

“After Dark” Follow Up: What is the genre of this novel?

After our intense class discussion of After Dark, I decided to come back and do an in-depth analysis of the novel. This novel by far is the most unique one we have read all semester. The fact that everything occurs within one night amazed me. As it was brought to my attention in class by Thomas, The Tempest also took place in a day’s span. But what intrigued me more with this novel is it took place within a couple of hours of night. The novel’s genre is one I found most difficult to decipher. Is it science fiction, a dystopia, speculative fiction? What genre would actually fit for this novel? To me, it appears as if the novel transcends into different genres. Science fiction, an obvious one, is seen throughout the course of nightfall and all the “magic” that takes place. For example, Eri getting sucked into the television and trapped in the room. I also found this to be connected to speculative fiction, as the two genres do not differ much. The dystopia can be seen in general with the “After Dark” part of the novel. When nighttime falls, a whole new world begins. We see things that we do not see occur during the daytime and everything appears as a blur. So what genre is truly suitable for this novel? I see so many different possible genres as the novel unfolds and transcends genre throughout the occurrence of nighttime. This is why I feel the novel is the most unique one we have read. To label it what one genre seems nearly impossible and I like how it challenges me to think of one that is suitable for it.

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All about Science fiction

   The Island of Dr. Moreau is a novel that has science fiction written all over it. From reading the summary on the back of the book, we see plain as day that the author, H.G. Wells is considered to be a “father of science fiction”. It also goes on to tell us that this novel is one of his first forays into the science fiction genre.

      While reading this novel, it reminded me of “Frankenstein” in many ways. We see a mad-surgeon changing creatures into men and instead seeing monstrous results; likewise in Frankenstein, a man is made into a monster. These scenarios have “sceince fiction” written all over it. The actuality of this happening in real life is slim to none. Monsters are not real and we know an animal can not be made into a man and vice versa. However, we could’ve expected this novel to be composed with a science fiction genre due to the fact that once again, H.G. Wells is considered a father of science fiction. He could’ve chosen many other genres to write about, but instead he stuck with his “specialty”, science fiction.

  The scenery of the story also gives us a “science fiction” feeling. The novel takes place on a remoe, desolated island with a “mad surgeon”…kind of creepy to me. The fact that this novel mirrors Frankenstein in so many ways, I automatically give it a science fiction genre as Frankenstein has. The two are very similar and closely related with a science fiction genre.

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A Tale of Science Fiction

In H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, he does more to engage the reader’s mind than by utilizing science fiction. Consider this story from a fairy-tale perspective: the tale does not always have a happy ending, but it maintains a means of providing some sort of message. In The Island, Wells uses traits of science fiction as a vessel to carry the message of human nature: evolution occurs in its own time, and any individual who attempts to hasten it, in turn, hastens his own end.

Many other science fiction novels portray images of fantasy and the like, but Wells chooses to stay closer to something more realistic. Remember that there are scientists that believe human beings are the epitome of evolution, and that human beings are as close to perfection as a living creature can be. Doctor Moreau agrees with this, but he takes it one step further: he believes that our rational nature can recreate other animals to be just as rational. He even says that “a pig may be educated” (51) as though moral education, “an artificial modification and perversion of instinct” (52), is one way to be considered human. This is evidence in his declaration of “the Law”, resembling much of what is our idea of religion.

True, this message is still a scientific one, but the message is not what makes the fairy tale, but the presence of a message and a means of projecting it through the characters’ actions. By using the “creatures-turned-human” as a way to characterize the attempted hastening of evolution by Doctor Moreau, Wells can establish a means to illustrate his message by bringing both Doctor Moreau’s (initiator of attempt) and Montgomery’s (conspirator of attempt) lives to an end.

I would consider this underlying message an accurate one since the only character to survive the Beast Men of the island is Prendick. Even as they are regaining the majority of their instinctual behaviors from which he should have died shortly after their deaths, he nonetheless is able to protect his own life because he was not one of the men who tampered with the lives of these natural born creatures. For this, Wells makes it so that Prendick is allowed to live his life off the island as the human being he once was in London.

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Science Fiction and Views on Humanity

The story The Island of Dr. Moreau plays about like an old version of science fiction, before it became better known for robots and space.  The text not only has monsters, whose origins were given a reasonably logical explanation, but also delves into the philosophical questions about humanity and playing God that come with that step.  The fourteenth chapter, Doctor Moreau Explains, gives plenty of scientific background for the creation of the creatures, calling it the “triumph of vivisection” (52).  Yet, along with the new knowledge comes the philosophical questions that accompany new possibilities.  For instance, Prendick, the protagonist, says that the only reason for the need of the horror of vivisection to come to pass should be “some application” for it (54).  As the doctor of the island goes on about his discoveries, the audience is left to wonder about the importance of these discoveries and its uses, and whether those uses are worth the pain and suffering that the victims must go through.  Reading the text as science fiction leads the audience into pondering these questions due to the allowance suspension of disbelief given by the lecture on how the creatures came to be.  As a science fiction text, the audience can still enjoy the action and suspense, but are given something to think about when faced with each of the creatures.  This way, the text prompts the audience to ask questions ranging from whether the humanized animals should be given the same rights and consideration as humans to is it ethical to how this new operation can be applied in order to benefit mankind.  Science fiction allows the audience to think about topics that do not come up in daily conversation, but still lead to questions that reflect the reader’s views on humanity.

 

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Elements of Science Fiction and Defining Humanity in The Island of Dr. Moreau

Even though the genre of The Island of Dr. Moreau can be debated, as  I read the story I interpreted as science fiction. This is due to the many scientific elements in the novel that are stretched farther than they actually go in real life. With the scientific context of the book, the reader gets the impression that these humanized animals can actually be created in the lab. During the time the book was written, this was an actual fear of many people since vivisection was just started to become present in experiments. However, today this may seem a lot more far fetched than it did at the time and would be seen as highly immoral. When explaining what is happening on the island to Prendick, Dr. Moreau mentions how it is a science that has been delved into before, thus giving the science in the story credibility. “You forget all that a skilled vivisector can do with living things…alterations in the secretion of fatty tissue. I have no doubt that you have heard of these things? ” (pg 45) Most science fiction furthers innovations and discoveries that have already been made and exaggerates them, this is exactly what H.G. Wells does in this novel. With this novel, Wells even leads the reader to question what defines humanity. The animals that Moreau has humanized in the story look enough like men, however he can never get rid of their animalistic tendencies completely. The Beast Men are in a constant battle to maintain what makes them men as opposed to beasts. Prendick makes this realization in Chapter 16, “Before, they had been beasts, their instinct fitly adapted to their surroundings, and happy as living as things may be. Now they stumbled in the shackle of humanity…” (pg 65) This also brings the question of morality at hand, not only do they undergo an immense amount of pain during the changing of their body, they also have to live in denial of their basic instincts for the rest of their life.

This novel also relates to quite a few of the other stories that we have read for class. It makes connections with The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe, An Enemy of the People, and Bluebeard. The Island of Dr. Moreau like The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe brings the theme of the Island out. Dr. Moreau’s island does differ greatly from Prospero’s and Crusoe’s island, but it has the element that Crusoe is ruling his own island. Moreau creates laws and rules over his beast men, which mirrors how Prospero and Crusoe rule their respective islands. What really sets them apart though is that Moreau creates a law system and the people on the island, whereas Prospero and Crusoe claim an already occupied island and never create laws, they just assume power. Also, Moreau lacks the colonial aspects of The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe. The Island of Dr. Moreau also draws connections with An Enemy of the People since Dr. Moreau was hated by the public when some of his lab experiments were exposed. This is very similar to how Dr. Stockmann became an enemy of the people for trying to expose the polluted water of the baths in his town. However, Moreau goes away and continues to experiment in peace while Thomas stays and tries to spread his discoveries, but clearly both are men of science and innovation. Another story we’ve read that The Island of Dr. Moreau connects with is Bluebeard, it is even mentioned in the story, “Our little island establishment here contains a secret or so, is kind of a Blue-Beard’s chamber, in fact.” Although Prendick not being allowed in the lab at first is not a defining characteristic of the novel, it still draws a very clear comparison to the fairy tale Bluebeard.

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Wells Reflects Personal Views in “The Island”



H.G. Wells’ story, “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” is, among numerous things, a science fiction adventure:  but when I read it I thought there were strong, religious-satirical undertones (of course completely uncomic).  “Religious satire” because it was my impression Wells deliberately parallels events in the story to religious themes (specifically Christianity) and in doing so, belittles religion.  We see this when Montgomery and Prendick make a mockery of the beast people by telling them the dead Dr. Moreau is up in the sky watching them.   It is also made evident when the beast people hypnotically and unquestioningly repeat their mantra (“the Law”). 

By self-proclamation, H.G. Wells was an atheist and a proponent of Darwinism (“God the Invisible King,” Wells).  With this knowledge of Wells’ background, it is no mystery that “The Island of Dr. Moreau” would be tainted with sentiment to reflect his personal views.   Just like the other stories we have read, Robinson Crusoe and The Death of Ivan Ilyich, the authors had an agenda hidden in their books.   In the latter, the authors were promulgating religion, or the idea that a better life is associated with a belief in God.  However, in the former, the author seems to infer that to worship a higher power, a “Maker,” makes one stupid and animal-like.

An example of reference to religion is made is when Prendick is in the huts of the beast people and he hears their blind repetition of “the Law.” (“The Island” p. 43)   Among the “long series [of] mostly quite incomprehensible gibberish,” they say, “His is the Hand that makes.” (p. 43) Moreau is their creator and they have a worshipping, fearful attitude of him–they are commanded to “salute” and “bow down.” (p. 65, 88).  They also have this long list of Laws they must memorize and obey: it rules their lives, and defines their moral code.  They also live in fear of breaking this Law, for if they do there is the consequence of being sent back to the “House of Pain.”  Prayer is a crucial aspect to any religion.  It is my opinion that here, Wells parallels the beast people to the religious who have memorized and committed to obeying the laws of God:  that they are blindly stupid like these beast people.  And (just like the Law of the beast people) in the laws of God there are stipulations, that those who break the laws are at risk of punishment and Hell. 

Montgomery and Prendick mock the beast people’s brutish ignorance by telling them that the dead Dr. Moreau is up in the sky, watching them.  Prendick says, “He has changed  his body . . . For a time you will not see him.  He is . . . there . . . You cannot see him.  But he can see you.  Fear the law.”  (p. 80)  This parallels exactly to the story of Jesus Christ, who “changed his body” first to come to man’s world, and then again when he died.  “For a time you will not see him” are the words of Prendick–almost identical to the words of Jesus: “Yet a little while am I with you.”  And the thought of Dr. Moreau hovering up in the sky, watching the beast people’s every move correlates with the general concept of most religions–especially Christianity–that there is an all-powerful Deity high above in the Heavens watching our every move to see whether or not we sin. 

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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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Science, Society, and Humanity

I believe H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau undoubtedly falls under the category of science fiction. Science fiction is, as defined by Merriam Webster, “fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals”. During the Victorian era in which the story was written, many scientific discoveries were being made, and the literature of the time demonstrated the wonder they had for the scientific advances for the time, and the hope for the limitless bounds of those advances.

In The Island of Doctor Moreau, the title character uses a science known as vivisection to transform animals into humans. He does this repeatedly, and to his creations, he gives a set of laws, rules to keep them human-like: “Not to go on all-Fours”, “Not to suck up Drink”, “Not to eat Flesh or Fish”, “Not to claw Bark of Trees”, “Not to chase other Men” (Wells 43). With these rules, he binds them into their own society on the island – the creatures build dens and even marry. Thus, in one manner, Moreau’s experiments impact a newly formed society, that of the Beast-Men. They also impact the humans who live on the island, and must maintain a careful balance with the creatures. But they also pose a possibility for change in rest of society: there is an unspoken question in the novel of what would result were Moreau’s experiments to succeed 100%.

Though not officially a part of the science fiction genre, I believe all good science fiction, by introducing fictional beings, also makes the reader think about what makes us human, what separates us from all non-humans, real or imagined. The Island of Doctor Moreau certainly does that. In his explanation to Prendick, Moreau complains that despite his best efforts, there is “something I cannot touch, somewhere – I cannot determine where – in the seat of the emotions” (Wells 58). There is something not entirely right with his creations, something that keeps them separate from humans, and it is by the introduction of these creatures that we are made to consider why we are so different.

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Space, Aliens, and the Unknown?

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a very interesting work since it can be classified into many different genres, but I believe it fits best in the genre of science fiction. According to Wikipedia, science fiction is a genre “dealing with the impact of imagined innovations in science or technology, often in a futuristic setting.” Since the main theme of the story is vivisection and the transformation of animals into humans through scientific means, I feel like it almost fits almost perfectly into this genre.

When I think of science fiction, my mind immediately goes to the Star Wars saga. While that may be a little more typical science fiction, according to the definition given above, The Island of Dr. Moreau fits as well. Vivisection was a very contentious topic in Britain around the time of the publishing of this work (“Our History”, par. 4), and the central idea to this novel is what the implications of this technology would be.

When Prendick first saw the Beast People, he thought of how “never before had (he) seen such bestial-looking creatures” and with the realization that they were almost human in form but had “an irresistible suggestion of a hog” (Wells 29) sent him into shock and questioning what they were and the situation he was in. The idea of animals turned into humans is very strange, and gives me the same feeling as something alien, which leads me to put this work in with other science fiction works as well.

 

“Our History.” British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. BAUV, n.d. Web. 7 Feb 2011. <http://www.buav.org/about-us/our-history/&gt;.

 

 

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The Island of Doctor Moreau: Science Fiction Novel

H. G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau depicts the experience of Prendick, who upon being rescued, is sent onto another island where he is faced with a new breed of citizens. The story is centered on animal vivisection performed by Dr. Moreau and how Prendick faces these “morbid growths.” (Wells 22) Because of the grotesque theme of animal vivisection and experimentation, The Island of Doctor Moreau fits the science fiction genre.

Upon his arrival on the island, Montgomery warns Prendick of the strange happenings on the island. Dr. Moreau goes on to say that “our little establishment here contains a secret or so, is a kind of Blue-Beard’s chamber.” (Wells 19) At first, Dr. Moreau and Montgomery leave Prendick in the dark about their experimentations with animals on the island. Obviously curious, Prendick goes exploring on the island where he see creatures described as “human beings with the strangest air about them of some familiar animal.” (Wells 28) Dr. Moreau eventually explains his creations to Prendick, who compares the human-animal creatures with having the “mark of the beast” (Wells 28)

Dr. Moreu’s imaginative innovations of these animals convey ideals similarly contained in science fiction novels. When viewing the novel as belonging to the sci fi genre, the rather absurd concept of animal vivisection is somewhat given justice. At a time when animal vivisection was a concern in Britain, H. G. Wells attempts to explain the reasoning and thoughts behind such abnormal behaviors by showing how the creation of this breed was a passion of Dr. Moreau’s. By reading this novel in relation to the scientific fiction genre, the theme of animal vivisection and experimentation is shown as a largely imaginative ideal that is being explored and not necessarily frowned upon, but rather accepted due to the creative process.

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