The Island of Dr. Moreau
by H. G. Wells
The Island of Dr. Moreau Theme of Morals and Ethics
Often when we discuss morals and ethics, the questions revolve around whether something is right or wrong. Not so with The Island of Dr. Moreau. Here, the questions revolve around whether morality and ethics are even concepts we should bother with. After all, if mankind was shaped by nature, and nature is a careless, merciless machine, aren't we the same? In the grand scheme of things, does anything we do really matter given the size and vast emptiness of the universe? Wow, those are depressing questions to ask, let alone answer. But for those with the gumption, it makes The Island of Dr. Moreau an interesting, if dark, journey.
Questions About Morals and Ethics
- Who is the most ethical character in the novel? Explain your answer.
- On the flip side, who is the most immoral character in the novel? Explain your answer.
- Do you think the Beast Folk who follow the Law are moral by our standards? What about their own standards? Do they even have independent standards? What does this tell us about the nature of morality?
- What do you personally think the relationship between morality and nature is? Why? Take an example from the book that either agrees or disagrees with your personal view and explain why this is.
Chew on This
The only consistently moral character in the novel is M'ling, because he's undyingly loyal to Montgomery. It's actually kind of sweet.
Montgomery is an ethical lush. That is, he becomes more moral when he drinks, which we can tell because he treats the Beast Folk as equals and is more honest with them while he's sauced.