The Island of Doctor Moreau - Q8: Communities

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“Overboard,” said the captain. “This ship ain't for beasts and cannibals, and worse than beasts, any more. Overboard you go...”

We meet four communities in the novel. The first and smallest is that of the Lady Vain – a group of three men (one named Helman) with not enough food or water. The second is the ship, Ipecacuanha, where we first meet Montgomery, M'ling, and the Captain. Doctor Moreau's Island is the third, where we meet Moreau and the beasts. And lastly, Prendick returns home to England, where he struggles to find a place. What do these have in common? How are they different? Is there an allegory we can attribute to these four communities?

Comments

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    I think the community of Moreau's compound and the community of the beast folk are different. Three of those have people forced together in order to survive (the Lady Vain, the Ipecacuanha, Moreau's compound). The other two are more communities of like-minded people coming together.

    Any allegory? I can't think of one. The survival-oriented groups are harsh and unpleasant, but I don't know what wider theme that would speak to.

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    I think the book is a metaphor for the human condition. Our culture is merely a temporary order amidst the crawling chaos, and will inevitably degrade into such

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    @clash_bowley said:
    I think the book is a metaphor for the human condition. Our culture is merely a temporary order amidst the crawling chaos, and will inevitably degrade into such

    If so, who or what is playing the part of Moreau for us? Who or what is lifting us (the readers, our society) above the mud?

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    @NeilNjae said:
    If so, who or what is playing the part of Moreau for us? Who or what is lifting us (the readers, our society) above the mud?

    My reading? Moreau is not lifting us - we cannot be lifted. If someone lifts us we can only fall again. We must climb out on our own. It is our will to get better that sustains us.

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    One thing that occurred to me on after I posed the question, is that Prendick died in The Lady Vain. So the story takes us through 4 stages:
    1. The Lady Vain, in which which all civilization breaks down. Prendick dies here - of dehydration, I assume.
    2. The Ipecacuanha, the emetic ship. This is Prendick's purgatory. Will he be moving on to heaven or to hell when the ship vomits him out? I think we can take a clue from the name.
    3. The Island. Yep - it's hell. Or at least a glimpse of it. We've got an anti-god, dressed all in white with a white beard, giving birth to creations by fire: "Each time I dip a living creature into a bath of burning pain, I say, This time I will burn out all the animal, this time I will make a rational creature of my own." His creations are taught a mockery of the Ten Commandments. This is hell, and Prendick eventually finds himself alone with the lemurs.
    4. Ressurection - Prendick returns home to England, but it isn't the same. He's no longer a man, and can no longer relate.

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    Oh look, Campbell's monomyth and the Hero's Journey. But I don't think that tells us anything other than "the story takes place somewhere remote."

    The idea of Moreau playing god is an apt one. Was that a deliberate comparison by Wells, or just something that he did unconsciously?

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    I'm not sure it fits Campbell exactly, and certainly Wells wasn't following Campbell's lead since he pre-dates him by half a century.

    I think the comparison to God is likely on purpose. Did I share that Shmoop page on religion in the book?
    https://www.shmoop.com/study-guides/literature/dr-moreau/analysis/religious-allegory

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    More like an evil demiurge... :D

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