The Island of Dr. Moreau


H. G. Wells

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The Island of Dr. Moreau: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Land is sighted that evening, after the sun has set. It seems that this is Montgomery’s destination, and though Prendick is growing more curious about the purpose of the island and all the caged animals, he also sees that Montgomery is reluctant to divulge information. They talk about London for a time, which Montgomery seems to miss painfully. Although Prendick tries to thank Montgomery for saving his life, Montgomery replies that it was only “chance” and nothing more—the same sort of chance that caused Montgomery to have some accident that exiled him from society eleven years prior. Prendick offers to hear his tale, but Montgomery will not divulge anything more.
Montgomery’s refusal to take credit for saving Prendick is directly linked to his refusal to take responsibility for the crime that had him cast out of society (which he later reveals was a result of his alcoholism). This contributes to the idea that Montgomery acts more like an animal than a human, at least socially. Taking responsibility for one’s own actions rather than simply attributing them to impulse and fate is a decidedly human characteristic. Animals react to biological impulses; humans moderate them and decide on their course of action, claiming responsibility for their result (at least in theory).
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Prendick spies Montgomery’s strange-looking friend, who seems to be an assistant or servant. The man turns his head and Prendick momentarily catches a green luminescence in the man’s eyes, which he finds unnatural and frankly disturbing. Soon thereafter, both Prendick and Montgomery return below deck to sleep. Prendick’s rest is beset by strange dreams.
Prendick’s dreams almost seem to be a form of prescience, as the things he will soon see upon the island are stranger and darker than anything he could dream up. The strange luminescence of M’ling’s eyes give just the briefest hint that something foul is afoot, as Wells continues to build a sense of mystery and dread.
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