The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
That evening, near midnight, Montgomery and Prendick are discussing their options. Though Montgomery has sobered, the death of Moreau has left him nearly hysterical. Although Prendick says they must plan their escape from the island, Montgomery is convinced there is no life for him back in human society. In a mad rush, Montgomery resolves to take his brandy and get the Beast Folk drunk with him in one last binge before the end. He finds M’ling and others on the beach, shouting that giving the Beast Folk liquor is the last human touch that Moreau never thought of. Heavily intoxicated, Montgomery and a crew of the Beast Folk go shouting and singing into the forest.
Montgomery, evidently, was as dependent on Moreau’s authority for maintaining order in his own life as the Beast Folk were; thus Moreau, in some capacity, represented human society for Montgomery. It is ironic, then, that Montgomery considers offering the Beast Folk liquor to be the final touch of humanity: in his own life, alcohol has only ever reduced his self-control and inhibitions, so much so that he was exiled from human society.
Themes
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Prendick locks himself in the enclosure and begins planning his escape: when the sun rises, he will load a dingy with food and water and set himself adrift in the ocean once more. Briefly, he hears a lot of shouting and wood splintering, but he thinks little of it, having already decided that Montgomery is beyond saving and unfit for human society. However, as the morning approaches, the sounds from the beach grow more intense, and Prendick hears a gunshot. Alarmed at this, he bursts through his room to make for the beach, knocking over a shelf as he leaves.
Montgomery’s time away from society seems to have diminished his human dignity and desire to resist his worst impulses. This suggests that human society plays a critical socializing role, encouraging the decorum and behavior that separates humans from animals. That Montgomery was able to regress to a more animalistic state, despite the fact that he is biologically human, further suggests that the difference between humans and animals is more socially compelled than biologically inherent.
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Related Quotes
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When Prendick gets to the beach, he finds a bonfire raging next to the boathouse. Montgomery is on the ground, calling Prendick’s name. There is a cluster of Beast Folk near him, but when they spot Prendick running towards them they scatter. Montgomery is mortally wounded, having been attacked by the Sayer of the Law, whom he shot dead. M’ling’s dead corpse is also nearby, along with a few other Beast Folk’s bodies.
It is symbolically significant that the most degenerate, lawless human is killed by the priestly Sayer of the Law, the Beast Folk’s paragon of proper human behavior. By the time of Montgomery’s death, it could well be argued that the Sayer of the Law was, in fact, more human in his behavior than Montgomery.
Themes
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A gout of flame rises from the direction of the enclosure, and Prendick realizes that he overturned an oil lamp when he ran for the beach, and Moreau’s entire house is burning down. Looking to the boats, Prendick also realizes that Montgomery has burned the boats as a vindictive act of spite against Prendick. Montgomery utters a brief apology to Prendick and dies on the beach. As he does so, three Beast Folk emerge from the forest with hostile looks in their eyes.
Symbolically, the burning of the enclosure, Moreau’s house, and the boats mirror the breakdown of society among the Beast Folk. Overnight, all figurative and literal vestiges of human society have been burned to the ground. With no structures and no society left, the island belongs entirely to the Beast Folk and their animalistic instincts.
Themes
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