Study Guide

Beast Folk in The Island of Dr. Moreau

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Beast Folk

Leopard Man

Poor Leopard Man. This guy just has no luck.

First, Prendick catches him drinking water on all fours like an animal, which a huge no-no in Beast Folk society. Then when he tries to kill—ahem, asks Prendick nicely to not tell, Prendick bashes it over the head with a rock. When Moreau demands to know who has been killing rabbits—another no-no—Hyena-Swine totally throws him under the bus. The entire Beast Folk society hunts him down, and Prendick shows pity on Leopard Man by killing him. Yeah, that's the best possible outcome for this guy. Like we said, no luck.

At first, it may seem like Leopard Man is a villain. After all, he hunts, kills, tries to murder the protagonist, and just will not stop breaking the Law. If we dig deeper, we see a character trying to fight his natural urges to be a leopard. He clearly doesn't want to go to the House of Pain. On the other hand, he is a leopard, and we could argue it's only because he's designed by nature to break the Law that he does so.

Ultimately, we have to ask, is the problem with Leopard Man or the rules?

Ape Man

In Ape Man, we can see the most obvious use of Wells's taste for satire and dry humor. His superficiality regarding physical traits and intelligence pokes fun at the people who do the same thing—perhaps, and this may be painful to admit, all of us.

For example, in Beast Folk society, Ape Man considers himself equal to Prendick because both have five fingers. He also develops the idea of "big thinks" (21.33). Basically, big thinks happen when Prendick says something that Ape Man doesn't understand. Ape Man then memorizes these utterances and repeats them to the other Beast Folk, usually with mistakes, to make himself look smart.

During the novel's conclusion, Prendick sees a preacher who "gibber[s] Big Thinks" like Ape Man (22.6). Add this to the fact that apes and monkeys are close evolutionary relatives to humans, and the result becomes obvious. We are neither the Eggman nor the Walrus; we are the Ape Man.

Sayer of the Law

The Sayer of the Law was created from an unknown combination of animals though we like to imagine him as an aardvark. It just seems cool. Oh, platypus would be cool, too.

Either way, Moreau uses the Sayer of the Law as his tool for spreading the animal-urge-controlling Law through the ranks of the Beast Folk. In this way, the Sayer of the Law serves as both priest and governor for the Beast Folk. When Prendick tries to join the Beast Folk society, only the Sayer is allowed to induct him into its ranks. Beyond this and the ability to spread the Law, we don't know how much power he has in Beast Folk society.

The Sayer of the Law is eventually killed in an unseen scuffle between Montgomery, M'ling, and other Beast Folk.


Hyena-Swine is one of the more violent members of the Beast Folk. He grows super excited during the hunting of Leopard Man, and when Prendick kills the poor guy, Hyena-Swine thrusts "thirsty teeth into its neck" (16.84). At first, it may seem like Hyena-Swine is simply a jerk. But isn't Moreau bloodthirsty in his own right—even if he can come up with more sophisticated reasons for being that way? So, how much of a difference do you think there really is between Hyena-Swine and his human masters?

After Moreau and Montgomery's death, Hyena-Swine leaves the Beast Folk and becomes the greatest danger to Prendick's life. Prendick does eventually kill him, but not before Hyena-Swine kills Prendick's only companion, Dog Man.

Dog Man

Dog Man was constructed using a St. Bernard, so he's a really big dog man. After Moreau's death, Dog Man becomes Prendick's fierce and loyal companion, protecting his master. He eventually reverts back into his animal form, but even then he follows its master around like, well, a dog. Eventually, he is killed by Hyena-Swine.

At first, it seems to be the complete opposite of Hyena-Swine: loyal, friendly, and not prone to violence. But let us not forget that he only follows Prendick after he makes sure he's in Prendick's good books and will be spared when his enemies are slain (21.13). Yeah, maybe he's not so different after all, a two sides of the same coin kind of deal.


Mythology side note: In Greek mythology, the satyr is part human, part animal (usually goat), so it would be excessive to call it "Satyr Man," like the other folks, since a satyr already contains the "man" part.

Moreau constructs Satyr from a goat, resulting in a "Satanic" look (16.3). When Montgomery introduces Prendick as equal to himself and Moreau, Satyr Man openly questions whether Prendick is worthy of the title, saying Prendick "bled and wept," which is something Moreau would never do (16.9). Satyr Man continues to question Prendick's authority after Moreau and Montgomery's deaths (21.30). What can we say? The guy just doesn't like Prendick.

Although a minor character, Satyr's questioning nature plays an important role. Let's assume the Beast Folk is an allegory for our society (check out the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section for more). Think about how Satyr deems someone worthy of power. What does he value, and why does he value it? Now, consider, is our society any different? Do we value the same aspects of character that Satyr does? What do you think?

Fox-Bear Woman

If the name doesn't make it obvious, she's a female member of the Beast Folk who is constructed from a fox and a bear. She is mentioned twice in the novel. Prendick first notes that in her "vulpine face" he can occasionally see a human he might meet "in some city byway [old-fashioned word for 'side-street']" (15.12). This aspect of her character hints at the novel's ending, so check out our "What's Up With the Ending?" section for more. She is also one of the first of the Beast Folk to appear at Moreau's summons in chapter sixteen.

The Sloth Creature

The sloth creature has a childish form, and Prendick first meets him during his trip to the Beast Folk village in the ravine. After Moreau's death, the sloth creature grows affectionate towards Prendick and follows him around. Eventually, he reverts to an animal state. Even so, the sloth helps Prendick defeat and kill his island nemesis, Hyena-Swine, before reverting fully.


Wolf-Bear is briefly mentioned during the hunt for Leopard Man. He laughs with the "exultation of hunting" and enjoys hunting his fellow Beast Folk just a wee-bit too much (16.76).

Ox-Bear Man

Ox-Bear Man also has a very brief appearance. After Montgomery's death, Prendick heads to the Beast Folk's huts and asks for food. Ox-Bear Man directs Prendick to the huts but does so more-or-less without caring, a far cry from the pomp and circumstance that Moreau would have received.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...