The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Prendick, still clutching his weapon, is brought into a hut, where, along with the Ape Man, a little sloth-like creature—“looking more like a flayed child than anything else in the world”—and several other Beast Folk have gathered. They offer him food.
Following Prendick’s unreliable narration, the Beast Folk seem compassionate in the face of Moreau’s monstrous evil, since it appears to Prendick that he has even vivisected a child.
Themes
Scientific Knowledge and Ethics Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
The Ape Man seems exuberant that a “man” has come to live with them. A large figure, whom Prendick cannot quite make out, declares that Prendick must be taught the Law. The figure proceeds to recite a series of verses, incantations against animal-like behavior such as walking on all fours, insisting loudly that Prendick repeat each one. Each verse ends with the phrase, “Are we not Men?”
This introduces the theme of religious authority and its role in maintaining order in society, clearly symbolized by the role of the Law in the Beast Folk’s lives. That the law functions primarily to keep the Beast Folk from acting on primal urges suggests that organized religion in human society serves much the same purpose.
Themes
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
All of the gathered Beast Folk join in the recitation with a ritualistic zeal. After the prohibitions of various animal actions, a new set of verses follows: “His is the house of pain. His is the hand that makes. His is the hand that wounds. His is the hand that heals,” and so on. In its midst, Prendick surmises with some horror that Moreau, having created these creatures and their stunted intelligence, has instilled them with a god-like reverence for him. As Prendick’s eyes adjust, he sees that the Sayer of the Law, the evident leader of the group, is a great grey-furred creature with a talon of a hand.
No religion is complete without a central deity to be its authority figure and hold the system together. If Moreau takes the place of God, then the Sayer of the Law is the priest, teaching the Law and encouraging obedience to it. For a community so religiously inclined as the Beast Folk seem to be, it is fitting that their priest should also act as their leader, a secondary figure of authority mediating between them and “God.”
Themes
Scientific Knowledge and Ethics Theme Icon
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Moreau, Montgomery, and the hound arrive in the Beast Folk’s community. Prendick flees again, pursued by Moreau and the Beast Folk, who have obeyed him and joined the pursuit. Prendick makes his way out of the ravine and through the forest before he finds a hot spring that will lead him to the ocean, where he intends to kill himself now that he knows the Beast Folk will not shelter him from Moreau.
Prendick’s intention to kill himself once again indicates an initially dignified persona. He would rather die than live on in a tortured, degraded form of himself. In his current idea of morality and dignity, survival by any means seems beneath him. However, this will change as his time on the island passes.
Themes
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
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