The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The following morning, M’ling—the name of Montgomery’s assistant—delivers Prendick’s breakfast, and Montgomery joins him. Montgomery explains that he and Moreau are reasonably safe from the Beast Folk due to their limited intelligence and the Law that Moreau has implanted in their minds. Perhaps the most important dictate of the Law is that the Beast Folk not taste blood, for fear of what desires that taste might arouse in them. Montgomery explains that for many, their animal urges become most potent at night. However, it seems that the Beast Folk respect the majority of the Law during Prendick’s first weeks there.
The Law, like much organized religion, is protected by conservative boundaries that restrict behavior which might possibly lead to transgression. Both the Law and organized religion in human society depend on the maintenance of individuals’ inhibitions, which help to keep them from sin. The prohibition of the Beast Folk tasting blood for fear of what it may arouse in them is similar to religious prohibitions of certain types of pleasure—especially drunkenness or promiscuity—for fear that it will lead to a total rejection of other rules and authority.
Themes
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Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
The island itself is home to about sixty humanoid Beast Folk, though Moreau had made twice that number in total over the course of his work. They bear offspring, but their children have no marks of humanity until Moreau takes them to the operating table and “stamp[s] the human form upon them.” According to the Law, the Beast Folk are monogamous. The two most fearsome of the Beast Folk are the Leopard Man, who had chased Prendick on the beach, and the Hyena-Swine, a dreadful and powerful combination of the two creatures. M’ling is the only Beast Folk that doesn’t live in the ravine; rather, he lives in a kennel in the enclosure to remain close to Montgomery.
Despite the story’s narrowing of the delineation between human and animal, Wells seems hesitant to eliminate all barriers between the two. Thus, Moreau is never able to fully take the place of God and create an entirely new, self-sustaining hybrid race that can produce its own fully-formed offspring. While Wells certainly argues for a great amount of similarity and shared traits between the two, it seems that if he had wanted to argue that human and animals are absolutely the same, Moreau would not need to vivisect the children again to make them similarly humanoid. It is also worth noting that, at this point, M’ling seems to identify himself more with the humans than with the Beast Folk. This will be affected by future developments.
Themes
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Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Prendick gradually “habituate[s]” to the Beast Folk’s appearance and behavior. Montgomery, having spent so much time around them, seems to regard the Beast Folk as nearly normal, and perhaps even bears some affection for them. Indeed, on his annual trips to buy animals, the humans he encounters seem more strange and fearsome than the Beast Folk do. He has a strange relationship with M’ling—at times Montgomery is affectionate towards him, while at other times he drunkenly beats him. M’ling is fiercely loyal regardless.
Prendick’s perception continues to be reshaped by his circumstances, continuing the development of his character away from his former moral firmness. Though Wells will not make humans and animals interchangeable—Montgomery is always, essentially, a human—he does demonstrate through Montgomery’s character how humans may take on such beastly qualities that they are no longer comfortable in human society.
Themes
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
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