The Island of Dr. Moreau

Dr. Moreau / The White-Haired Man Character Analysis

Moreau is a vivisectionist (someone who operates on live animals) who embodies the dark potential of scientific research when it is unrestrained by ethics or accountability to society. After his disturbing research in vivisection was discovered, Moreau chose to exile himself from London society rather than give up his lifework. Establishing his island with the disgraced Montgomery, Moreau set to work creating the Beast Folk—his attempts to produce a perfect human being by vivisecting and hypnotizing animals. By the time Prendick arrives on the island, Moreau has been at this work for eleven years. Moreau, removed from society, is remorseless and cruel in his pursuit of scientific knowledge. He views pain as an irrelevant evolutionary byproduct and chides Prendick for his squeamishness at the suffering of other creatures. Though Moreau is convinced of the value of his own work, Prendick finds it pointlessly cruel and without value to anyone else, illustrating the danger of removing scientific research from the ethical guidance of society. To control the Beast Folk and encourage them to resist their animal natures and behave like humans, Moreau has created the Law, a set of rules and prohibitions that establish him as a god-like absolute authority on the island. However, when Moreau is killed by the Puma, the authority of the Law breaks down. The society of the Beast Folk and their human behavior, which was held together by the guidelines of the Law and the deity of Moreau, also crumble, demonstrating the necessity of a moral authority to maintain order in society and keep individuals from regressing to their basic primal urges.

Dr. Moreau / The White-Haired Man Quotes in The Island of Dr. Moreau

The The Island of Dr. Moreau quotes below are all either spoken by Dr. Moreau / The White-Haired Man or refer to Dr. Moreau / The White-Haired Man. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Scientific Knowledge and Ethics Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The Island of Dr. Moreau published in 1996.
Chapter 1 Quotes

I would not draw lots, however, and in the night the sailor whispered to Helmar again and again, and I sat in the bows with my clasp-knife in my hand—though I doubt I had the stuff in me to fight. And in the morning I agreed to Helmar’s proposal, and we handed halfpence to find to the odd man.

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk, The Law
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 7 Quotes

It was not the first time that conscience has turned against the methods of research. The doctor was simply howled out of the country…He might have purchased his social peace by abandoning his investigations, but he apparently preferred the latter, as most men would who have once fallen under the over-mastering spell of research.

Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 12 Quotes

A horrible fancy came into my head that Moreau, after animalizing these men, had infected their dwarfed brains with a kind of deification of himself.

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk, The Law
Page Number: 43
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Chapter 13 Quotes

But as I say, I was too full of excitement, and—a true saying, though those who have never known danger may doubt it—too desperate to die.

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk
Page Number: 48
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Chapter 14 Quotes

“You forget all that a skilled vivisector can do with living things,” said Moreau. “For my own part I’m puzzled why the things I have done here have not been done before.”

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk
Page Number: 52
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“So long as visible or audible pain turns you sick, so long as your own pain drives you, so long as pain underlies your propositions about sin, so long, I tell you, you are an animal, thinking a little less obscurely than an animal feels.”

Page Number: 54
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“It looked quite human to me when I had finished it, but when I went to it I was discontented with it; it remembered me, and was terrified beyond imagination, and it had no more than the wits of a sheep. The more I looked the clumsier it seemed, until at last I put the monster out of its misery.”

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
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“[The Beast Folk] build themselves dens, gather fruit and pull herbs—marry even. But I can see through it all, see into their very souls, and see there nothing but the souls of beasts, beasts that perish—anger, and the lusts to live and gratify themselves…Yet they’re odd. Complex, like everything else alive. There is a kind of upward striving in them, part vanity, part waste sexual emotion, part waste curiosity.”

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 15 Quotes

I say I became habituated to the Beast People, that a thousand things that had seemed unnatural and repulsive speedily became natural and ordinary to me. I suppose everything in existence takes its color from the average hue of our surroundings: Montgomery and Moreau were too peculiar to keep my general impression of humanity well defined.

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 16 Quotes

“Who breaks the Law—” said Moreau, taking his eyes off his victim and turning towards us. It seemed to me there was a touch of exultation in his voice.

“—goes back to the House of Pain,” they all clamored; “goes back to the House of Pain, O Master!”

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk, The Law
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 17 Quotes

[Montgomery] cracked his whip in some trepidation, and forthwith [the Beast Folk] rushed at him. Never before had a Beast Man dared to do that.

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk, The Law, Whips
Page Number: 78
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Chapter 18 Quotes

“Children of the Law,” I said, “He is not dead…he has changed his shape—he has changed his body,” I went on. “For a time you will not see him. He is…there”—I pointed upward— “where he can watch you. You cannot see him. But he can see you. Fear the Law.”

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk, The Law
Page Number: 80
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We locked ourselves in, and then took Moreau’s mangled body into the yard, and laid it upon a pile of brushwood.

Then we went into the laboratory and put an end to all we found living there.

Related Symbols: The Beast Folk
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
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Dr. Moreau / The White-Haired Man Character Timeline in The Island of Dr. Moreau

The timeline below shows where the character Dr. Moreau / The White-Haired Man appears in The Island of Dr. Moreau. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: The Landing on the Island
Scientific Knowledge and Ethics Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
...that Prendick must leave his ship as well. Montgomery has been joined by a powerful, white-haired man with a resolute face, who has presumably come aboard from the island to assist the... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Evil-Looking Boatmen
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
...him despite their earlier refusal. On board their landing boat are not only Montgomery, the white-haired man , and the strange-looking man, but also three oddly-proportioned brutes (long torsos, short thighs) who... (full context)
Scientific Knowledge and Ethics Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
...if the joints of their legs were not properly positioned. As they are unloading, the white-haired man offers Prendick breakfast and asks his occupation. When Prendick answers that he studied biology, the... (full context)
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
...island. Montgomery is friendly, though still seems to be avoiding some subject of conversation. The white-haired man returns, seeming much friendlier than before, and offers Prendick some biscuits and brandy. Prendick eats... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Locked Door
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Montgomery and the white-haired man deliberate about what to do with Prendick until Montgomery remembers a room where they can... (full context)
Scientific Knowledge and Ethics Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
...of accidents.” Montgomery, when he thinks he is out of earshot, calls the white-haired man Moreau, a name that nags at Prendick’s memory, though he cannot place it. (full context)
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Prendick is reflecting on the utter secrecy of Montgomery and Moreau when the strange-looking man from the ship arrives to deliver food. Prendick notices, with some... (full context)
Scientific Knowledge and Ethics Theme Icon
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Prendick finally remembers how he knows the name Moreau—some decades ago, an exposé had been published regarding the work of the expert physiologist, Moreau.... (full context)
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Prendick realizes that Moreau has established the island as his new base of research and considers that such vivisection... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Crying of the Puma
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Crying of the Man
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Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
...a live figure fastened to a board, flayed open and obviously mutilated. However, within seconds, Moreau’s powerful arms lift Prendick off the ground and throw him out of the operating room,... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Hunting of the Man
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After that hour, Prendick can hear both Moreau and Montgomery calling his name, evidently with a hound and each carrying revolvers. This drives... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Sayers of the Law
Scientific Knowledge and Ethics Theme Icon
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
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...hand that heals,” and so on. In its midst, Prendick surmises with some horror that Moreau, having created these creatures and their stunted intelligence, has instilled them with a god-like reverence... (full context)
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Moreau, Montgomery, and the hound arrive in the Beast Folk’s community. Prendick flees again, pursued by... (full context)
Chapter 13: A Parley
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...to the enclosure, where he might find a real weapon to fight with. However, soon Moreau, Montgomery, the hound, and the Beast Folk arrive, cutting off any escape. (full context)
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
...is doing. Prendick explains that he is obviously going to kill himself to escape becoming Moreau’s next experiment, and briefly shouts at the gathered Beast Folk that they should not fear... (full context)
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Prendick refuses until Moreau and Montgomery drop their weapons in the sand, offering to let Prendick have them if... (full context)
Chapter 14: Dr. Moreau Explains
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Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Back at the enclosure, Prendick and Moreau sit together, Prendick still clutching both revolvers. Moreau explains that the Beast Folk are not... (full context)
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Prendick is rather disturbed by this, but Moreau insists that it is necessary. Society has no stomach for vivisection and so will never... (full context)
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Moreau recalls the early years of his research: almost eleven years ago, he and Montgomery and... (full context)
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Over time, all of the laborers either deserted the island or died. Moreau seems reticent to tell of how the last was killed, but Prendick is insistent. Moreau... (full context)
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Moreau finishes by explaining that in the twenty years he has practiced vivisection—counting his time in... (full context)
Chapter 15: Concerning the Beast Folk
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
...name of Montgomery’s assistant—delivers Prendick’s breakfast, and Montgomery joins him. Montgomery explains that he and Moreau are reasonably safe from the Beast Folk due to their limited intelligence and the Law... (full context)
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The island itself is home to about sixty humanoid Beast Folk, though Moreau had made twice that number in total over the course of his work. They bear... (full context)
Chapter 16: How the Beast Folk Tasted Blood
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...in the bushes, but think little of it. As they travel, they catch glimpses of Moreau’s own created alternatives to rabbits—small pink creatures that are much cleaner than their naturally occurring... (full context)
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Taking M’ling with them, Prendick, Moreau, and Montgomery make their way to the ravine to gather the Beast Folk. The men... (full context)
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By Moreau’s command, the Sayer of the Law leads its recitation until they reach the prohibition of... (full context)
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When Moreau turns his back, the Leopard Man lunges at him, knocking Moreau off-balance. The beasts, already... (full context)
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Moreau is angry that Prendick killed the creature, but Prendick brushes it off and breaks away... (full context)
Chapter 17: A Catastrophe
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Morality, Survival, and Circumstance Theme Icon
...free of its restraints, barreling into Prendick before tearing off down the beach, followed by Moreau armed with a pistol. The collision throws Prendick to the ground and breaks his forearm.... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Finding of Moreau
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
...starts getting himself drunk. To stop him, Prendick declares that they must go look for Moreau themselves, since something terrible has obviously happened or he would have been back already. Prendick,... (full context)
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...the Sayer of the Law ask the humans if the Law still exists, now that Moreau is dead. Prendick proclaims to the Beast Folk that indeed Moreau is not dead, he... (full context)
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They find Moreau’s body next to the Puma’s. It appears that they have killed each other in a... (full context)
Chapter 19: Montgomery’s “Bank Holiday”
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 20: Alone with the Beast Folk
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
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...still fearful of Prendick, the three do. Prendick proclaims that none escape the Law or Moreau’s judgment, not even Montgomery or the Sayer of the Law. Prendick orders the three Beast... (full context)
Religious Authority and Order Theme Icon
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...that the enclosure has burned down. The Beast Folk are becoming animals once again, as Moreau knew that they could, and now Prendick is hiding rather than asserting his authority and... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Reversion of the Beast Folk
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...for ever again.” Although Prendick arrives with the Dog Man and tries to assert that Moreau still watches and the House of Pain will come again, the Beast Folk are largely... (full context)