The Island of Dr. Moreau
by H. G. Wells
The Island of Dr. Moreau Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Why do you suppose there are no major female characters in The Island of Dr. Moreau? For that matter, why do you think the only females in the entire novel are Beast Folk who get like two lines of dialogue or significant scenes? And, hey, just for fun, imagine how the story would change if Prendick, Moreau, or Montgomery were a woman (or if they were all women). What would be the major differences, and how would this change your reading of the novel?
- Why do you suppose Wells wrote the story in the form of a confession (that is, with Prendick telling us the story after it has already happened)? What advantages can you see this style granting the story versus keeping the story's narrative in the present? See any disadvantages?
- Do you think there is any significance in the island not having a name (2.26)? (By the way, the island in Shakespeare's The Tempest also didn't have a name. Interesting...) Why do you think Moreau or Montgomery haven't named it, or, for that matter, the Beast Folk? Also, why do you imagine that Wells placed the island in the Pacific and not somewhere else?
- Why did Moreau choose to have the Beast Folk follow his rules like one would a religion? Why didn't he choose something else like a political system, a family structure, or economics? Now pick a theme from the "Themes" section. How do think Moreau's method of ruling the Beast Folk fits into that particular theme?
- Prendick uses the word negroid to describe several Beast Folk (6.7). What do you suppose this tells us about Prendick as a character? How about his perceived relationship with the Beast Folk? Now, consider what this may say about the society and era Wells is writing for. Remember, simply saying it's racist is a little too easy of an answer. Let's dig a bit deeper and explore the issue more than that.
- Can you think of any other scientist who, like Moreau, might be considered "mad"? Make a list. Now, pick a mad scientist or two. What do they have in common with Moreau? How do they differ? What do these tell us about Moreau as a character?
- The Island of Dr. Moreau has been adapted into several movies. Each one does something different with the story, from updating the science to throwing in a love interest for good measure. If you were to make The Island of Dr. Moreau into a movie, which aspect of the novel would you change to appeal to modern audiences? You could do anything you wanted, from changing the setting to adding a character or even updating the plot. It's your movie; go nuts. Now, explain why you made the changes you did. Be specific as to why you think a modern audience will find these changes appealing.
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