The Island of Doctor Moreau - Q5: Prendick

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“And now comes the problem of the uninvited guest.”

Prendick is our view-point character, but is no mere cipher. Whom does he represent? Is he the voice of society, of science, or of Wells himself? Does he change trough the novel? If so, how?

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    I think Prendick is meant to be the ordinary, decent, respectable member of society. I think he's the voice of "decency". His attitude to the animals changes a lot through the book, from fear and disgust to camaraderie to pity. He also changes from wanting to do well for the animals to reverting to looking after only himself. Is this a case of the island robbing him of his humanity and making him more bestial? The epilogue suggests that he was damaged by the experience.

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    edited June 7

    With Neil again here, except this may be - actually I should say is likely to be - entirely intentional on Wells' part. Actually very likely. Wells was a dark soul, and took the dimmest possible view of people.

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    edited June 7

    @clash_bowley said:
    With Neil again here, except this may be - actually I should say is likely to be - entirely intentional on Wells' part. Actually very likely. Wells was a dark soul, and took the dimmest possible view of people.

    So is there any hope? Do people produce art and beauty despite their nature, and we're all fundamentally selfish and uncaring? Is Wells saying something about how people could or should become their best selves?

    Something else I noticed: there's no religion in the book. There's nothing about the sublime, the sacred, being an inspiration for us to rise above our base nature. The closest we get is the worship of the Laws, but we're shown that's just a manipulation of the beast-folk. How would things be different if Wells had included an inspirational priest of some form?

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    I think he deliberately removed the religious to emphasize the brutality and squalor of these humans. Wells was a person who believed in God, and did believe that religion could and did inspire people out of their inherent brutality.

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    There are tons of religious references in the book. The Shmoop entry even identifies it as a major theme:
    https://www.shmoop.com/study-guides/literature/dr-moreau/analysis/religious-allegory

    I think the clue to Well's view is in the last paragraph of the book: "There is, though I do not know how there is or why there is, a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven." So basically, there is a heaven above. He concludes: "There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope, or I could not live."

    There's a strong "don't worry if things suck right now, for nature abides" kind of vibe.

    This had me wondering about Well's thinking on evolution. He believed in it. Unlike the 'intelligent design' people, Wells seems to recognize that evolution is part of God's creation, and that we cannot transcend it, no matter how hard we try. This view is quite different from the 'science vs religion' dualism we see today.

    @NeilNjae said: I think Prendick is meant to be the ordinary, decent, respectable member of society. I think he's the voice of "decency". His attitude to the animals changes a lot through the book, from fear and disgust to camaraderie to pity. He also changes from wanting to do well for the animals to reverting to looking after only himself. Is this a case of the island robbing him of his humanity and making him more bestial? The epilogue suggests that he was damaged by the experience.

    Yes, exactly.

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