Reviving the classics: The Island of Doctor Moreau

The Island of Doctor Moreau

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 out of 5 stars

An English gentleman, Edward Prendick, shipwrecked in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, finds himself at the mercy of Dr Moreau. Taken to his secluded island, Prendick finds himself in the middle of Moreau’s controversial experiments. Fascinated by natural sciences and evolutionism, Moreau shaped a new race that worshipped him as their creator. Soon, the experiments turn wrong, and the subjects start to reverse to their initial state…

This classic H. G. Wells novel is a controversial one. It might be read as a sensational adventure story about a man trapped on an island, surrounded by the results of a mad scientist’s experiments. It can also be understood, and I lean to this interpretation, as a tale of the consequences of the misuse of science and the power exercised over the weaker. It portrays the results of Moreau’s excessive confidence, pride and God’s complex. Prendick is a perfect narrator in this book, as he arrives on the island without prior knowledge of its inhabitants, similarly to the readers. We can trace our reactions in his initial shock, through slight fascination to horror when the inevitable end is near.

I found this story exciting and thought-provoking. It is a classic example of a science-fiction novel that includes all the elements of this genre fiction at its best. I believe it will haunt me, just like it haunted Prendick after his return to the civilisation…

[Spoiler]

‘At most times it lies far in the back of my mind, a mere distant cloud, a memory, and a faint distrust; but there are times when the little cloud spreads until it obscures the whole sky. Then I look about me at my fellow-men; and I go in fear. 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. I know this is an illusion; that these seeming men and women about me are indeed men and women,—men and women for ever, perfectly reasonable creatures, full of human desires and tender solicitude, emancipated from instinct and the slaves of no fantastic Law,—beings altogether different from the Beast Folk. Yet I shrink from them, from their curious glances, their inquiries and assistance, and long to be away from them and alone.’[1]


[1] H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, [online] https://www.gutenberg.org/files/159/159-h/159-h.htm [accessed 09.06.22].

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