The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Prendick, having regained some strength, ventures out of the cabin he has been recovering in with Montgomery. As they both step toward the ladder leading to the upper deck of the ship, in their way stands a very strange-looking man—he is short and oddly shaped, with large teeth and an elongated face that looks rather like a muzzle, and dark eyes that have very little white around the edges. The man’s appearance is a shock to Prendick, though also vaguely familiar, but Montgomery obviously knows him and berates him for not being in his place aboard the ship.
That Montgomery felt confident enough to bring his strange-looking friend, later revealed as M’ling (who is also later revealed to be one of the Beast Folk), anywhere where he would be seen by other humans is indicative of how passably human Moreau’s Beast Folk are. Neither Prendick nor Davis ever suspect that M’ling is anything other than an ugly, but naturally-born human. This will make Moreau’s indifferent cruelty towards them seem all the more villainous.
Themes
Scientific Knowledge and Ethics Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Climbing above the deck, Prendick observes that there are numerous caged animals on the ship: stag hounds, a Puma, several hutches of rabbits, even a llama. Prendick asks Montgomery what they are all for, but receives no answer.
The ship filled with animals being taken to a new home is evocative of Noah’s Ark, tying into the rest of the novel’s biblical imagery.
Themes
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
As they are speaking, the strange-looking man appears, followed by the captain, Davis, who is cursing and shouting and hits the man hard enough to knock him to the deck. Montgomery angrily accosts the captain, who is clearly drunk, protesting that the captain must treat the strange fellow with the same respect that a passenger is due, since he has been abused and heckled over the entire trip. The captain obviously detests the strange-looking man and shouts, “Go to hell! Do what I like on my own ship.”
Montgomery’s indignation at Davis’s drunkenness and abuse of M’ling is ironic and belies a severe lack of self-awareness, as it is later revealed that Montgomery also occasionally drunkenly beats M’ling. This contributes to Montgomery’s characterization as a pitiful figure and predicts Prendick’s future observation that the man often seems more beast-like than human.
Themes
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
As Davis is complaining about how much he and his crew despise the strange-looking man and how much of a mess Montgomery’s animals have made of his deck, Prendick interjects, sensing a fight. Montgomery is as angry as the captain, who is threatening to cut out the strange man’s insides if he ever sees him again. Davis also drunkenly declares that since he is captain and owner of the ship, he is the “law and the prophets,” the effective ruler. Prendick places himself between the two, berating both and bringing both men’s anger down on himself. Despite this, Prendick is glad to have prevented a brawl.
Davis’s character foreshadows Moreau, particularly in the way that each man ascribes a god-like sense of authority to themselves while they are in their own domains. Davis sees himself as the god of his ship, which gives him the right to do whatever he pleases, including getting drunk and beating his passengers. Moreau, likewise, will literally establish himself as the god-figure of the Law and believes in his own impunity while on the island, creating life and destroying it as he sees fit.
Themes
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
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