The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells Book Review
In the book The Island of Doctor Moreau, we are introduced to the central character Edward Prendick. This man, after being stranded at sea, ends up on an island with two men, Montgomery and Moreau. He finds these men are doing horrible vivisection experiments on animals to make them more human but goes along with them to survive. By the end, he almost becomes his own version of Moreau, controlling the beast people to survive and slow the reversion back to animal instincts “They have been slain. Even the Sayer of the Law. Even the other with the whip. Great is the Law!” (113). The reason he does this is that both Moreau and Montgomery are killed by the beast people. His transformation at the end was very big because earlier in the book he persistently questioned Moreau on how making and then controlling the beast people could ever be okay. It shows how disconnected from society and his former self he was by the end of the book going against what he believed in to survive.
Religion plays a pretty significant role in The Island of Doctor Moreau, as the “Law,” Moreau, and “The House of Pain” seem to parallel someone who is playing God punishing those who do not follow them, in this case, Moreau would be the one playing God. In the “Law” Moreau requires them to follow, he even makes them say “His is the house of pain. His is the hand that makes. His is the hand that makes. His is the hand that wounds” (59). There are other parts of the “Law,” but this part shows how he is a god figure to the beast people. In the story, Moreau creates these beast people in the image of humans attempting to make them human similar to how in Christianity mankind was created in the image of God. The “Law” also draws from religion as most have a strict set of rules and guidelines they must follow. In the book, the “Law” does a very good job of keeping the beast people under control through fear like how in say Christianity people would fear the wrath of God or not receiving salvation when Jesus returns. The biggest parallel to religion however that solidifies their place as a religious figure would be when Moreau tells the beast people the Moreau is not dead, when he was, and that he is watching till one day when returns with the house of pain to punish those who did not follow the law. This is a parallel to how Jesus is supposed to one day return with judgment.
The relationship between the humans on the island and the beast people is an interesting one being made up of fear, hubris, uncertainty, and hatred. The beast people’s relationship with the humans revolves around fear due to the “Law” and they serve Moreau because of this. The human's relationship with the beast people revolves around uncertainty, hatred, and hubris each one being represented by one of the three humans. Moreau is hubris as a result of him playing god creating monstrosities controlling them only to have them be his downfall. Montgomery represents the hatred disliking the beast people seeing them as monsters. Prendick represents the uncertainty because throughout the entire time on the island after he learns what the best people are and seeing them slowly revert to animals causes him to always be uncertain not only of the change but of how strange it was that these animals had some small sort of humanity in them. Once he was rescued and returned home, he realized that the beast people were not all that different from humans and humanity. He sees how humans are just as tortured as the beast people were and he was constantly afraid the animal coming out would happen to everyone around him, “I feel as though the animal was surging up through them” (130). It shows how humans are not all that different from animals. We have our society, government, laws, and religion to keep the thing in order without all that there’d be chaos just like without the “Law” the beast people would descend into chaos faster and faster.