After analyzing The Island of Doctor Moreau, I was reminded of the film Jurassic Park. I feel that these two stories share many similarities, both in their structure and in their possible messages. Both stories take place on a tropical island, remote from civilization for the sake of privacy. In The Island of Doctor Moreau, there is even something reminiscent of prehistoric times in the description of the island: “It was low, and covered with thick vegetation, chiefly of the inevitable palm trees” (Wells 17). The island is also volcanic and rocky. Compare it to some pictures from the film: (one) and (two). This setting gives the islands a wilder feel, that there is something not quite controlled about them.
Both begin with an outsider (Prendick in one, and a Dr. Grant in the other) introduced to the island. The outsiders have different proposed roles in the story, but they serve much of the same function for the plot: they pass judgment on the science they observe and bear witness to the disintegration of the careful plans of the creators. In both, the scientists (utilizing methods that were very popular at the time) attempt to “play God” – to manipulate life to an extent never dreamed of until that point. Both Hammond (the mind behind Jurassic Park) and Moreau took an existing technology and extended it further than anyone else. But they reach too far in their goals, and their creations go bad.
There is some foreshadowing of this loss of control in each. In Jurassic Park, this comes from the initial attack of the raptor on the park worker, the incident which calls for outside interference. Later we learn that the dinosaurs, despite all being bred to be female, are also somehow reproducing, breaking a “law” – this one of nature, that females cannot breed with each other. In The Island of Doctor Moreau, this comes from the dead rabbit carcass, and breaks the law established by Moreau that the Beast Men are not to eat meat. Despite all of their “prettying up” with science to control them, the base nature of the animals comes out.
In Jurassic Park, the collapse of the park is brought about by Dennis Nedry. He fits into a villain stereotype of the time in that he is bumbling, slovenly, and fat, reflective of a general societal disdain for men who fit that description. In The Island of Doctor Moreau, the end is catalyzed by the cougar breaking free of her confines. I found it interesting that this is a female creature who is to blame for the downfall of the island – perhaps this, like in JP, reflects how society viewed women?
And in the end, there are lessons to be drawn. Both are cautionary tales of hubris in scientific endeavors and in meddling with what we do not understand fully.