The Island of Dr. Moreau


H. G. Wells

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The Island of Dr. Moreau: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Montgomery and the strange-looking man arrive again with food, water, and brandy, announcing that Montgomery will eat lunch with Prendick, but Moreau is busy working. When Montgomery’s assistant leaves, Prendick inquires about him, pointing out the strangeness of his ears. Montgomery pretends not to have noticed anything strange about the man, and dodges any questions about him or the men on the beach. When Montgomery notices that Prendick does not drink, he mentions that he wishes he had such self-control, since that was the source of his troubles in the first place. He ambiguously adds that now he needs it to steel his nerves.
Once again, the contrast between Prendick and Montgomery is apparent. Prendick is a bold, forthright man in the practice of exercising self-control and resisting his own impulses—demonstrated by his total abstinence of alcohol—and is thus portrayed as fit for human society. Montgomery is evasive, apparently weak-willed, and so lacking in self-control that he was cast out of human society, now finding that he fits better amongst the Beast Folk than human beings, as will be revealed.
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As they are speaking, the Puma can be heard howling from the enclosure, and Prendick surmises that it is being vivisected. Once Montgomery has left, the Puma’s pained screams become overwhelming, as if “all the pain in the world had found a voice.” Prendick is driven out of his room to escape the noise and sets off to explore the island.
Since vivisection involves the dissection of a live, and apparently conscious, animal, it is a grim process regardless of whether its subject possesses human intelligence or not. By making Prendick’s first interaction with vivisection rather gruesome, Wells inclines the reader to suspect the worst of Moreau’s work, which contributes to the building terror that Prendick’s narration delivers.
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