The Island of Dr. Moreau


H. G. Wells

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The Island of Dr. Moreau: Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

After three days drifting, Prendick is picked up by a passing ship. The crew does not believe his story and thinks him mad. Prendick, rather than being filled with joy and surety by his reunion with humanity, feels the same dread of the island in human company. Even after years in human society, he says, he cannot convince himself that the people around him are not simply well-refined Beast Folk, though he knows this to be an illusion. They are human beings, rational and reasonable, not beasts.
Though he did not see it before his time on the island, Prendick now recognizes the latent beastliness of every human being. This again suggests that though not utterly interchangeable, human nature and animal nature are closely linked. In the actions of humans can be seen the remnants of their bestial ancestors. Although much of the feral, animal nature has been evolved and domesticated out, traces of it still remain, held back only by society’s influence.
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Prendick moves to the countryside, where he can be away from other human beings, since London and its masses proved far too beastly for him, particularly in their day-to-day struggles. He commits to studying chemistry and astronomy. Astronomy specifically seems to him a humanizing pursuit, a proof that humans are much more than bestial in their ability to contemplate the cosmos.
Wells posits here that, rather than any biological difference, the truly exceptional quality of human beings is the ability to wonder at the universe and consider questions greater than everyday affairs.
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