The Island of Doctor Moreau - Q4: Montgomery

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“This silly ass of a world,” he said. “What a muddle it all is. I haven't had any life. I wonder when it's going to begin.”

What's Montgomery's role in the story? He saves Prendick twice, but seems unable to save himself. Is he a human, an animal, or something in-between? How is he contrasted with M'ling, his alter-ego? How does he compare to Prendick? To Moreau?

Comments

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    As I said elsewhere, Montgomery is a parasite. He contributes nothing to anyone and exists only to drink. I think he's meant to show the bestial nature of some people, while M'ling shows how some "lesser beings" can become almost human (and I can't get past the colonialist subtext of all of this). It all ends with Montgomery corrupting all those around him and destroying himself in the process.

    Moreau's not a person but a plot device. Prendick I think is in the next question.

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    Montgomery? His role is to get drunk and screw up everything he touches.

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    @clash_bowley said:
    Montgomery? His role is to get drunk and screw up everything he touches.

    So why is he in the book? Would the book be better or worse if that character wasn't there?

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    It certainly wouldn't be the same. :D

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    Moreau is certainly a character. He has a personality and a character arc. He's a highly symbolic one, sure, but so was Gandalf - who actually had less of an arc, having never had a youth or a previous run-in with Society. Yet I never heard anyone say that Gandalf wasn't a character.

    Montgomery is complex. He's certainly a failure, and seems to be willing to blame others. Why hasn't his life started? When is something going to happen? Is he questioning God's provenance? Montgomery is also our main view into things, at least early in the book. He saves Prendick - twice. He serves Moreau. He's certainly not useless to everyone. M'ling perhaps loves him? Accepts him? But he lacks perspective, is tied to the London of old no longer a part of it. He's not really any longer a human, but also not an animal. He lacks the ability to create agency for himself. Didn't Clash say that Wells thought people had to claw themselves out of their baser instincs? Well, here's a person who has suffered for his inability to do so. He's introduced in the second chapter, which is titled "The man who was going nowhere".

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    Right. Montgomery is - if any type - close to the classic dissolute British remittance man, who was paid money by his family to stay in exile, but not quite. A singularly useless person.

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