Linda's Reviews > The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
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's review
Dec 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: british-literature, classic, historical-fiction, horror, science-fiction, underlying-message, victorian-literature
Read in February, 2012

This book was really disturbing, even though I knew what to expect.

The story is about the shipwrecked Prendick, ending up on an unfamiliar island with no name but with a lot going on. There is Montgomery, the man who saves him from dying on the ship, and Dr Moreau, a rather secretive person. Then there are some other "people". At first sight, something seems strange with these abnormal looking men, but Prendick can't figure out what's wrong. As the story unfolds, it turns out the "people" are in fact the result of vivisection experiments made my Dr Moreau - to create a new race.

Of course there are rules, put up by Dr Moreau for safety reasons: the creatures are forbidden to hunt, kill or eat any kind of meat. Of course creatures abandon this rule and eat meat. Outcome: there's bloodshed.

I like this kind of books. You can't force nature, you can't control it. Sooner or later nature will have its way. Nature finds a way - as Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park) put it. I thought this was going to be like a pre-Crichton kind of novel, but it turned out to be its own genre. Not as good as Jurassic Park, in my opinion, but perhaps the Jurassic Park of the 19th century. And very impressive to be written so early.


The main theme, aside from human interference with nature, is moral responsibility - something lacking on the island. I was so relieved when the poor brute got away from Dr Moreau. I felt so sick! First the animals are captured, tortured and made into something they aren't. Then, they are robbed of their natural behavior and, thanks to hypnosis, given feelings of guilt when they follow their instincts. Taste forbidden fruit, and hell will break loose!
Eventually, something goes wrong. Man isn't God, and shouldn't try to be. The only beasts on that island are human beings.

"I see faces keen and bright, others dull or dangerous, others unsteady, insincere; none that have the calm authority of a reasonable soul. I feel as though the animal was surging up through them; that presently the degradation of the islanders will be played over again on a larger scale."

What is the difference between humans and animals? Philosophically speaking. Couldn't our manner depend on our environment? Are we civilized because we are expected to be? But that doesn't mean we would be, under certain circumstances. Prendick did change during his stay on the island, and he sometimes forgot what the creatures really were, and thought of them as men. Why not?

"And even it seemed that I, too, was not a reasonable creature, but only an animal tormented with some strange disorder in its brain, that sent it to wander alone, like a sheep stricken with the gid".
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Reading Progress

02/05/2012 page 50
02/17/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Rane (new)

Rane I watched the movie when I was a kid and was freaked out- could never bring myself to read the book O_o;

Linda Haven't seen it, but now I have to! :) It's a lot of fun to compare the movie with the book.

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