Tomislav's Reviews > The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
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's review
Nov 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, read-2-times
Read in November, 2011

second read - 12 November 2011 - I found the science of this 1896 novel - physical transformation of animals into men through vivisection and mental transformation through hypnosis, and Wells' idea that the only thing preventing speech by animals to be the absence of a physiologically developed larynx - to be quaint. But this is not hard sf, it is social sf.

On the one level this is an effective horror/thriller written in the context of the Victorian England. But I feel the parallels of the Beast Men's Law to human religion is more than just a convenient cultural reference. Wells at one point states that religion is an expression of repressed human sexuality. Near the end, in an attempt to save himself, Prendick calls on a translation of Moreau's reign of terror over the Beast Men into a supernatural omniscience. Even after rescue and return to England, Prendick continues to see the Beast in his fellow Man, only kept in check through social code.

Not to go on all-Fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
Not to suck up drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
Not to eat Flesh nor Fish; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
Not to claw Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

Moreau himself has broken the code imposed by the religion he created to control the Beast Men, and is consumed by the consequences of his own actions. Are we not Men?

first read - October 1973
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