Revisiting My Review of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU by H. G. Wells
Posted by Peter Kazmaier
In 2017 I reread and reviewed The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells. Since then I wrote and completed The Dragons of Sheol, my fourth book. As I was immersed in fine-tuning the plot this book, I was struck by the similarities and differences of H. G. Wells’ Moreau world and the world I was imagining for Sheol.
With that in mind I wanted to set the stage for that comparative discussion by revisiting and elaborating on my previous review.
My Previous Review Comments
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A thought-provoking book about the dangers of science unencumbered by morality and man’s penchant for wanting to play God. An added benefit for me: a chance to see how the relationship and nature of man and animals was viewed through the eyes of a late nineteenth century writer.
Why Revisit This Succinct Review?
SPOILER ALERT – I will be discussing important elements of the plot, so if you wish to The Island of Dr. Moreau for the first time, you may wish to skip the next paragraphs.
Moreau, a surgeon, endeavored to convert the higher animals into something human through surgery. By enabling, say a leopard or a hyena, to walk upright, to use hands with thumbs, and with operational vocal chords that could reproduce the wide range of sounds used in human speech, he apparently believed that he would create an animal that approximated a human being. In other words, these physical shortcomings were the only things that separated Man (Homo sapiens) from the higher animals. He then subjected these pseudo-men, who could talk, use tools, and walk upright to a sort of group therapy or quasi-religious group training to instill in them some kind of morality (particularly “do not kill”) since many were carnivores.
Of course Moreau’s experiment went horribly wrong.
What interest me in this discussion are the assumptions that went into Wells’ plot construction. Here are my take-a-ways:
- Humans and the higher animals are very similar and all it takes to approach human behavior and achievement is to remove a few physical impediments.
- Morality (right and wrong) are social constructs that are made up and can be imposed by an authority figure using various mind-adjusting , psychological techniques.
- If one intervenes in this way, things are likely to go horribly wrong as one plays God in a world that has no God.
About Peter KazmaierLover of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Author of the SF series THE HALCYON CYCLE. I frequently re-read my favourite books. http://tinyurl.com/p46woa4
Posted on January 1, 2020, in Horror, Materialism, Review, Science Fiction, The Dragons of Sheol, The Halcyon Cycle and tagged Horror, Materialism, Morality and Science, Playing God, Science, SciFi, Vivisection. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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