Monkey Dude captured in Google Images

How flexible are the laws of nature?

A common theme we have noticed is the mad scientist, procreating in some way or another. In The Island Of Doctor Moreau we get Dr. Moreau (obvi) creating the human-animal-beast-monsters that inhabit the Island. Moreau is a competent scientist, but takes his skills past the laws of nature, and combines species. Like so many incidents of “Playing God”, Moreau’s creations devolve, and resort back into animal instincts and ultimately destroy Moreau and the island. This raises the questions of ‘Where are the boundaries of nature?’ Meaning, at what point does human intervention corrupt and ultimately destroy natures purity. What could these sort of themes be saying about the Victorian feelings and relationship with nature? What could this be saying about vivisection?

Charles Darwin | Google Image Search

Charles Darwin | Google Image Search

Evolution and Degeneration and scientific plausibility:

This novel has more to do with evolution than most other Wells novels. Wells was well educated in science, and was very familiar and interested in Darwin’s Origin of Species. Wells used the new Victorian knowledge of evolution to make his novel that much more scary, and somewhat realistic. A common belief among Victorians was that it could potentially be just as easy to devolve back towards animals, than it was to evolve any further. Well’s very masterfully plays with this idea with the creation of the beast- people, showing the reader how quick this degeneration could happen.  Also, vivisection was starting to come around in Victorian science, which Wells uses once again, to give this novel some serious scientific plausibility for its era.


Ideology of Dr. Moreau

One particular theme that runs throughout The Island of Dr. Moreau is the perception of a nation state and the omniscient rule of a Big Other. The novel functions as an experiment in the creation and perpetuation of a symbolic order concurrent with a nation state. Dr. Moreau is successful by instilling within his creations a sense of the Lacanian panoptic gaze. All of the creatures labor under the idea that Moreau is constantly watching and judging their actions. This is the critical element in the creation of a nation state, and the ideology of this society is cemented by the creatures reiterating the laws of the nation to each other and each newcomer.

This island is a classic example of a simulacrum. It is a place where a truth has been accepted by all citizens under false pretenses. They blindly follow the rules believing that these laws are absolute truths they must live by. Moreau can be seen as explicitly evil for this reason. He creates a society based upon a false truth and is able to maintain his creations as basically slaves within his culture. In this respect he is God to them because he takes the place of the Big Other. Wells effectively outlines how a nation state is created and perpetuated, and criticizes how the ruler in a simulacrum such as this is what truly frightens us.




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