Monday, 20 September 2010

The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a science fiction novel written in 1896 by H.G. Wells. It tells the story of a man named Edward Perndick who becomes stranded on an Island. On this island the titular character Dr. Moreau is discovered performing horrific experiments in vivisection. It is revealed that the basic objective of these experiments is to transform animals in humans. But this fails they always retain some animalistic traits so Moreau sends most of them away to the forest (some he keeps as servants). The grotesque human/animal hybrids have formed an almost fundamentalist religious society within the islands woodland. They reject and repress their animal instincts this is because of a law that Moreau has installed into them. Despite this the creature’s behaviour over time becomes more and more beastly. I felt this was some kind of allegory for the way our various religions, ideologies and vales are designed to repress our own animal instincts in the same way.

This book was written at a time when there was a lot of debate going on in the British scientific community about animal vivisection. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (who are still active today) was formed two years after the novels publication. Many people believe the book inspired the creation of the BUAV.

The hybrid animals in the book are interesting because they are not spliced with humans. They are made purely of animal flesh but have been surgically reconstructed to resemble humans. Unfortunately there were obviously no insect based creatures only mammals.

There have been 3 film adaptations of the novel. Unfortunately I have not seen any of them, not yet anyway.

The Island of Lost Souls (1932)
The Island of Dr Moreau (1977)
The Island of Dr Moreau (1996) 

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