But certainly when I told the captain to shut up I had forgotten I was merely a bit of human flotsam, cut off from my resources, and with my fare unpaid, a mere casual dependant on the bounty, or speculative enterprise, of the ship. (3.34)
If we look at the ship as a society, then Prendick is easily in the lowest class. He's getting handouts, has no purpose for being there, and provides absolutely nothing to the cause. Captain Davis is, well, the captain. Lowest class individual smarting off to the highest class? Probably not the best idea.
"Law be damned! I'm king here." (5.22)
Captain Davis lets us in on one of the book's secrets. Mini-societies exist everywhere in larger society, and someone is going to be sure they are the one in charge. Oh, and Captain Davis is a jerk, but that isn't a secret.
The three big fellows spoke to one another in odd guttural tones, and the man who had waited for us on the beach, began chattering to them excitedly—a foreign language, as I fancied—[…]. (6.7)
To really belong to a society, you need to know its language. The Beast Folk are probably speaking (their unsophisticated version of) English here—they do everywhere else in the novel. But, Prendick isn't a part of their society yet, and this is represented by the fact that he assumes their language is totally foreign.
"Who are you?" said I. [The Leopard Man] tried to meet my gaze.
"No!" he said suddenly, and turning, went bounding away from me through the undergrowth. (9.14-15)
Prendick is terrified of the Leopard Man, but he doesn't understand the society he's fallen into. He actually has more control in this situation than he knows because he saw Leopard Man breaking the Law. It could almost be a perfect setup for a comedy if not for the gut-wrenching terror.
I know both Moreau and Montgomery carried revolvers; […] (11.4)
Both men carry revolvers, but it's the Law that really keeps them in power. Not that the guns aren't helpful.
[Ape Man's] eyes came back to my hands. He held his own hand out, and counted his digits slowly…. (11.15)
Every society has its own ideal image of beauty and perfection. For the Beast Folk, it's hands. Human hands with all five fingers to be exact. Ape Man obsesses over beauty images, so he's like the What Not to Wear team for Beast Folk society.
A horrible fancy came into my head that Moreau, after animalising these men, had infected their dwarfed brains with a kind of deification of himself. (12.24)
Prendick is an outsider to Beast Folk society, so he finds it odd that Moreau would hold such a high place. For the Beast Folk, it's only natural. It'd be like a Martian coming to the USA and wondering why exactly we place the Real Housewives in the higher classes of our society. Our answer? You kinda had to be there...
That Moreau and Montgomery could be killed; that they were not to be feared: that was the burden of what I put into the heads of the Beast People to my own ultimate undoing. (13.21)
Society and class are fragile parts of our lives. So long as we don't question them, they hold up rather well. Question them, and they have a tendency to break. At this moment, Prendick doesn't know how good he's got it in Beast Folk society. Just you wait.
I thought him a fair specimen of the negroid type when I had done him, and he lay, bandaged, bound, and motionless before me. (14.31)
A little insight into the era the book was written in. Here, Moreau associates his new Beast Folk with a man of African decent. This new Beast Man will be the first of the new lower class of society because he doesn't stack up to the ideal of Western society's desired look. Think that's crazy awful? Check out this encyclopedia entry on physiognomy to have your mind really blown.
I feel as though the animal was surging up through them; that presently the degradation of the Islanders will be played over again on a larger scale. (22.5)
Society and class have their purpose. One of those purposes is to hide the fact that beneath our social molding we are all animals. Prendick believes this to be true after spending his tenure on Moreau's island. If you've ever had to work in the restaurant business, you'll believe it too.
"Chance," [Montgomery] answered; "Just chance."
"I prefer to make my thanks to the accessible agent."
"Thank no one. You had the need, and I the knowledge […]. I was bored, and wanted something to do." (4.8-10)
Montgomery suggests that morality—or at least his morals—is wrapped up in personal interests. In short, there are no selfless acts. Of course, Montgomery could be lying his butt off as well. What do you think?
[Moreau] was simply howled out of the country. It may be he deserved to be, but I still think the tepid support of his fellow-investigators and his desertion by the great body of scientific workers, was a shameful thing. (7.20)
Prendick's ethical code suggests that you stick by your fellows. For example, scientists should support scientists in their endeavors no matter what. Of course, this comes before he gets a proper tour of the island.
Yet surely, and especially to another scientific man, there was nothing so horrible in vivisection as to account for this secrecy. (7.22)
The quote certainly points to the fact that this book was written in a different time. Then, vivisection was open for debate. For us, cutting into animals while they are still alive is where we draw the line and on that line build a fence reading "Do Not Enter."
Yet had I known such pain was in the next room, and had it been dumb, I believe—I have thought since—I could have stood it well enough. It is when suffering finds a voice and sets our nerves quivering that this pity comes troubling us. (8.26)
An age-old moral issue. Only once suffering becomes obvious for Prendick—it makes his nerves quiver—does it start raising moral flags for him. If suffering is silent it doesn't bother him and he can more or less continue on with his day. Thank goodness we're not at all like Prendick in this respect, right?
Could the vivisection of men be possible? (10.26)
First, let's get this off our chests: ew. Now onto the good stuff. The question may seem rhetorical. Obviously you can experiment on a person while he's still alive. It's sick, but if horror films have taught us anything, it's doable. However, here Prendick is really thinking in terms of morals and ethics. He just can't imagine anyone would actually do it. The idea is so utterly alien to him and his moral code.
"Not to go on all-Fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"
"Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"
"Not to eat Flesh or Fish; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"
"Not to claw Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"
"Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?" (12.12-16)
There you have it, folks: the moral code of the Beast Folk. Notice how it not only gives them a code of conduct, but also ascribes to them social place based on that code. Follow the code, and you're a man. Don't and you are a beast. Check out our "Society and Class" theme section for more.
"But," said I, "I still do not understand. Where is your justification for inflicting all this pain? The only thing that could excuse vivisection to me would be some application—"
"Precisely," said [Moreau]. "But you see I am differently constituted. We are on different platforms. You are a materialist." (14.18-19)
Materialist! Ah, snap…wait, that was an insult, right? Either way, Moreau brings up an interesting point. Morality for him and Prendick are not the same thing. Not even close. Prendick's morality looks at the individual cases and the outcomes, while Moreau's looks at the larger, historical picture. Which is right or wrong? We'll let you ponder that one while we enjoy an iced tea.
"To this day I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter. The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature." (14.29)
Here, Moreau argues nature is free of morality. But if nature is remorseless, then why does Moreau impose the Law on the Beast Folk's natural state? Hmmm, something about this guy just doesn't add up. What do you think it is?
"We can't massacre the lot,—can we? I suppose that's what your humanity would suggest?… But they'll change. They are sure to change." (19.6)
Montgomery discusses with Prendick a no-win moral situation for himself. He (Montgomery) cares for the Beast Folk, so he doesn't want to kill them in their current state. But they will change into their dangerous beast forms, meaning they'll pose a greater risk to him. Can you imagine? We have a hard time deciding on a breakfast cereal, let alone whether or not we should loose a beast on the world.
"But one has sinned," said I. "Him I will kill, whenever I may meet him." (21.17)
The one in question is Hyena-Swine, the only Beast Folk Prendick truly fears. Notice how Prendick manipulates the moral system to turn his enemy into an enemy of the moral code itself by deeming him a sinner. Prendick has learned to play the moral game to his advantage, and that's pretty tricky of him, if perhaps not exactly, um, moral.
Who are you to tell me what I'm to do. I tell you I'm captain of the ship—Captain and Owner. I'm the law here, I tell you—the law and the prophets. (3.33)
Captain Davis points out he makes the rules on the ship, and he does so by making himself into a prophet, adding a religious implication to his boast. Talk about ego.
They swayed their heads and shoulders from side to side. The speaker's words came thick and sloppy, and though I could hear them distinctly I could not distinguish what he said. He seemed to me to be reciting some complicated gibberish. Presently his articulation became shriller, and spreading his hands he rose to his feet. (9.9)
These Beast Folk could simply recite the rules, but that would be too easy. Instead, they have a religious ceremony full of pomp and circumstance to pass them on. And there are rules about how the ceremony is performed. So, like human society, there are rules governing the rules. Kind of hurts your head thinking about it, huh?
I realised I had to repeat this idiotic formula. And then began the insanest ceremony. (12.17)
All ceremonies have rules that must be followed. When it's your ceremony, you think it's perfectly natural. When it's someone else's, it can seem, well, insane. Or at the very least confusing. Ever been at a friend's house when they celebrated a holiday that wasn't part of your upbringing? Then you totally know the drill.
A horrible fancy came into my head that Moreau, after animalizing these men, had infected their dwarfed brains with a kind of deification of himself. (12.23)
The thought never occurs to Prendick that maybe these Beast Folk deified Moreau on their own. They might have done this to give their rules a context greater than themselves. He does, after all, kind of act like a God for them.
Punishment is sharp and sure. Therefore, learn the Law. Say the words. (12.47)
The message is pretty simple here: learn the rules or you're going to get it good. Any questions?
There was one among the boys a bit of a missionary, and he taught the [Ape Man] to read, or at least to pick out letters, and gave him some rudimentary ideas of morality, […]." (14.32)
The Ape Man does not come up with his rules on his own. Instead, they're passed down to him from the Kanakas boy, and then the Ape Man makes them his own. Have you ever thought about the fact that many rules that seem perfectly natural were in fact taught to you? It's actually quite a staggering revelation when you think about it.
[The Beast Folk] were really hypnotised; had been told certain things were impossible, and certain things were not to be done, and these prohibitions were woven into the texture of their minds beyond any possibility of disobedience or dispute. (15.4)
Sometimes we see rules as completely natural when in fact they aren't. We think, "of course, that's the way it should be." However, as Prendick has discovered, it only seems natural because we've been raised to think that. We've been "hypnotised," so to speak.
"Not to suck your Drink; that is the Law. Much the brutes care for the Law, eh—when Moreau's not about?" (16.28)
Okay, to be honest, Montgomery's rhetorical question has a point here. If society's rules were naturally a part of us, then wouldn't we follow them regardless of who was around or what the punishment was? Wait, did we just answer a rhetorical question with a rhetorical question?
"You cannot see [Moreau]. But he can see you. Fear the Law." (18.16)
Moreau becomes a true god in the eyes of the Beast Folk. So long as they think he's always watching, they'll obey the rules. Of course, he isn't, but that doesn't make the idea any less powerful. The whole point here is that fear, not morality, is what keeps these guys in check.
"We have no Master, no Whips, no House of Pain any more. There is an end. We love the Law, and will keep it; but there is no pain, no Master, […]." (21.10)
So deeply ingrained are the rules that even after the threat of punishment has passed, the rules still stick. It's even worse when it's your mother's rule—you can still hear her disappointed voice in the back of your head when you mess up as an adult. Seriously, those are the worst.
I lay across one of the thwarts for I know not how long, thinking that if I had the strength I would drink sea-water and madden myself to die quickly. (1.6)
The natural world can be harsh, even for the granola-y backpackers of the world. We may have found a way to travel and live across the globe, but there's still a scary amount of it that is straight-up deadly to us. Case in point? Sea water, which covers most of the planet, is not much of a thirst quencher.
"This ship ain't for beasts and cannibals, and worse than beasts, any more." (5.18)
Of course, the irony that Captain Davis is acting worse than a beast when he says this is completely and utterly lost on him. Drinking and irony don't mix.
At any rate they were an amazingly ugly gang, and over the heads of them, under the forward lug, peered the black face of the man whose eyes were luminous in the dark. (6.5)
At first, the only distinction Prendick notices between the Beast Folk and ordinary humans is the physical distinction. Check out the "What's Up With the Ending?" section to see how that changes.
Every shadow became something more than a shadow,—became an ambush; every rustle became a threat. Invisible things seemed watching me. (9.7)
The natural world terrifies our imaginations. We may consider ourselves the dominant species on the planet, but usually only when we're nice and sheltered in our dens in front of TVs screening Planet Earth in HD. Without our guns—and today without our ipods and AC—the natural world can inflict a pretty good beating on our perception of superiority.
A twig snapped behind me and there was a rustle. I turned and stood facing the dark trees. I could see nothing—or else I could see too much. Every dark form in the dimness had its ominous quality, its peculiar suggestion of alert watchfulness. (9.23)
Prendick sees the true relationship between man and nature. We think we have conquered nature, but in truth, it will always kick our butts if we have to face it alone. Not to mention that it's miles ahead in terms of creepiness…
I perceived that I was hungry, and prepared to clamber out of the hammock which, very politely anticipating my intention, twisted round and deposited me upon all-fours on the floor. (10.16)
The need for food and water links us forever to the natural world. Wells has a little fun here by having Prendick's hunger cause him to end up on all-fours like an animal. Good thing no one caught him. It's technically against the Law.
They may once have been animals; but I never before saw an animal trying to think. (13.44)
But you have Prendick, and we don't mean a gorilla using sign language. People are animals too, and people think.
"[…] so long as your own pains drive you, so long as pain underlines your propositions about sin,—so long, I tell you, you are an animal, thinking a little less obscurely what an animal feels." (14.21)
Moreau believes pain links humans to the natural world and, in fact, will do so until pain is no longer affects how we act. Of course, there's a lot to be said for pain, such as the way it keeps us alive and whatnot.
A strange persuasion came upon me, that, save for the grossness of the line, the grotesqueness of the forms, I had here before me the whole balance of human life in miniature, the whole interplay of instinct, reason, and fate, in its simplest form. (16.89)
Wells was a scientist, so one might think he'd think of reason as something special and distinctly human. Nope. Reason joins instinct and fate as traits that are part of the natural order on Moreau's island.
Then I would turn aside into some chapel,—and even there, such was my disturbance, it seemed that the preacher gibbered "Big Thinks," even as the Ape Man had done; […]" (22.6)
Ape Man learned Big Thinks by copying human behavior. Prendick sees the preacher in the same light, pretending to be human. It's monkey see monkey do, only literally.
I say luckily for us he did not reach us, and I might also add luckily for himself, for there [was] only a small beaker of water and some soddened ship's biscuits with us […]. (1.3)
Put any person in an extreme situation, and our primitive side will show. Prendick tries to be reasonable about being lucky that a man died, and maybe he's right. Still, you've got to admit, that's pretty cold. Primitive and coldblooded.
The black hesitated before them, and this gave the red-haired man time to come up with him and deliver a tremendous blow between the shoulder-blades. (3.14)
M'ling is a Beast Folk and supposedly more primitive than a tried-and-true human. So, it's interesting that the primal act in this scene is performed by the oh-so pleasant Captain Davis.
I refused to go aboard her, and flung myself full-length on the deck. In the end they swung me into her by a rope—for they had no stern ladder—and cut me adrift. (5.25)
In theory, civilization has rules, and by following them, we'll stay civilized instead of primitive. However, Davis's men are only following the rules, but we'd qualify trying to throw a man into the middle of the Pacific a pretty weak thing to do. Guess it's less about just following rules and more about which rules to follow.
Without taking my eyes off the black form before me I stooped and picked up this lump of rock. (9.38)
It's not a coincidence that Prendick defends himself with a rock, weapon of choice for prehistoric man. Sure beats the alternative though.
"Back to the House of Pain—back to the House of Pain," gabbled the Ape Man, as though the idea was sweet to him. (16.70)
In terms of being primitive, the Beast Folk aren't primitive because their society is less tech savvy than ours. According to the novel, they're primitive because they enjoy the idea of another creature's pain. Of course, a civilized human would never do something like… that… oh... never mind.
Poor brutes! I began to see the viler aspect of Moreau's cruelty. I had not thought before of the pain and trouble that came to these poor victims after they had passed from Moreau's hands. (16.90)
Prendick realizes that what's really gotta stink for the "brutes" is not just the pain they endure on Moreau's operating table. It's also the messed-up-ness that's comes with the whole half-man half-beast thing. Moreau takes it to a whole 'nother level of savagery.
"You've made a beast of yourself,—to the beasts you may go." (19.16)
We're not saying that alcohol makes people act primitively—though it certainly doesn't seem to do the opposite either. However, here, Prendick tells Montgomery that the booze has brought to the surface his primitive nature.
A sudden convulsion of rage shook me. I was almost moved to batter his foolish head in, as he lay there helpless at my feet. Then suddenly his hand moved, so feebly, so pitifully, that my wrath vanished. (19.38)
Initially, Prendick feels a savage rage toward Montgomery and for good reason. The man broke his boat. But in this case, sympathy acts as the antidote to primitivity's poison.
The change was slow and inevitable. For them and for me it came without any definite shock. (21.40)
The Law is no more, and Prendick's ability to punish those who break it has vanished. On any other tropical island, that would mean party time. Here it means bye-bye civilization and hello chaos.
I could not persuade myself that the men and women I met were not also another Beast People, animals half-wrought into the outward image of human souls, and that they would presently being to revert,—to show first this bestial mark and then that." (22.5)
Prendick sees the mark of primitivity in the so-called civilized citizens of London. They cannot escape the fact that, just like the Beast Folk, they are still animals. And that's London! To really see humanity acting out its animality, you need to be in LA when the Lakers take home the trophy.
I have never seen men so wrapped up before, and women so only in the East. They wore turbans, too, and thereunder peered out their elfin faces at me, faces with protruding lower jaws and bright eyes. (6.5)
As superficial as it may be, we identify people by the clothes they wear. Let's just admit it; we all do it. Prendick first notices the difference in the Beast Folk's clothes before working his way to the physical differences.
This man was of a moderate size, and with a black negroid face. (6.6)
Prendick attempts to identify the Beast Folk by connecting them with something distinctly non-European. By today's standards it comes across on the wrong side of racist. For Victorian readers however, it would have given the Beast Folk and the island an air of mystery, since Africa and African cultures were far from understood—though still easily exploitable.
Each of these creatures, despite its human form, had woven into it, into its movements, into the expression of its countenance, into its whole presence, some now irresistible suggestion of a hog, a swinish taint, the unmistakable mark of the beast. (9.10)
Prendick finally notices the animal aspects of the Beast Folk's identity. It's like when you finally see the hidden picture within another picture. Once you see it, you can't un-see it.
There was no mistake this time in the quality of the dim broken sounds, no doubt at all of their source; for it was groaning, broken by sobs and gasps of anguish. It was no brute this time. It was a human being in torment! (10.20)
Prendick can connect with the pain and anguish of the puma, and the connection causes him to identify with the puma. Do you think he'd identify just as easily with the puma if he didn't mistake it for a human?
Superficially the contagion of these brute men was upon me, but deep down within me laughter and disgust struggled together. (12.19)
Outer identity and inner identity are not always the same thing. Take this example: on the outside, Prendick becomes one of the Beast Folk by joining in their ceremony. Inside, he's laughing his butt off. Judge not though—we've all been there, right? Feeling one thing while pretending to feel another?
The men aboard ship, [Montgomery] told me, seemed at first just as strange to him as the Beast Men seemed to me,—unnaturally long in the leg, flat in the face, prominent in the forehead, suspicious, dangerous, and coldhearted. (15.10)
Montgomery points out that, sometimes, humans can't identify with each other because of our physical and social differences. This inability to identify causes Montgomery to feel as much of a disconnect towards parts of humanity as Prendick feels towards the Beast Folk society.
When I saw their wincing attitudes and the furtive dread in their bright eyes, I wondered that I had ever believed them to be men. (16.56)
When Prendick sees the Beast Folk cower, he decides they're even less human than he previously thought. Because real people don't cry. It's true. We're pretty sure there's even a song about it; it's that true.
It may seem a strange contradiction in me—I cannot explain the fact—but now, seeing the creature there in a perfectly animal attitude, with the light gleaming in its eyes, and its imperfectly human face distorted with terror, I realised again the fact of its humanity. (16.84)
It seems Prendick flip-flopped since quote #7. After killing the Leopard Man, Prendick has had a change of heart. Better late than never, unless you're considering things from the Leopard Man's perspective. Kinda ironic though that it's the Leopard Man's very animality that makes Prendick realize his humanity...
"None escape," I said. "Therefore hear and do as I command." They stood up, looking questioningly at one another. (20.7)
Prendick tries to identify himself as the new ruling member of beast society. No dice. The Beast Folk have already seen him do too many un-Moreau-y things to buy it.
I, too, must have undergone strange changes. My clothes hung about me as yellow rags, through whose rents glowed the tanned skin. My hair grew long, and became matted together. I am told that even now my eyes have a strange brightness, a swift alertness of movement. (21.42)
Prendick changes into a member of the Beast Folk! All the identity markers are there: the clothes, physical appearance, and habits. He's Survivor-ready.
I lay across one of the thwarts for I know not how long, thinking that if I had the strength I would drink sea-water and madden myself to die quickly. (1.6)
It seems rather telling that a trip to Moreau's island begins with suffering. Almost like a foreshadowing kind of thing (psst, it's totally foreshadowing). Still, it beats flying coach on a red-eye.
Fastened by chains to the mainmast were a number of grisly staghounds, who now began leaping and barking at me, and by the mizzen a huge puma was cramped in a little iron cage, far too small even to give it turning-room. (3.8)
Poor puma, it has a pretty rough time in this book. Its entire purpose in the novel seems to be to suffer. Even here. All he wants to do is run around, and such a simple act becomes one of suffering.
Suddenly the puma howled again, this time more painfully, Montgomery swore under his breath. (8.19)
Suffering affects those around it. When the puma suffers, Montgomery suffers. It's contagious, like a disease.
And, as I had waded into the water, I remembered that if I were too hard pressed at least one path of escape from torment still lay open to me—they could not very well prevent my drowning myself. (11.7)
Every instinct a human has is aimed towards survival. Yet, presented with enough suffering, we will gladly choose death. Apparently there really is such a thing as intolerable suffering.
"See! I did a little thing, a wrong thing once. I jabbered, jabbered, stopped talking. None could understand. I am burnt, branded in the hand. He is great, he is good!" (12.37)
Sometimes people can be conditioned to enjoy suffering. No seriously, take the Ape here. When he could no longer talk, Moreau vivisected it back into him, and now he loves Moreau all the more for it. Ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?
"It may be that save in this little planet, this speck of cosmic dust, invisible long before the nearest star could be attained—it may be, I say, that nowhere else does this thing called pain occur." (14.23)
Here's Moreau's cosmic (and shaky) defense for the suffering he causes. This suffering, really any suffering on the entire planet, is tiny on the cosmic scale. Completely insignificant. Of course, Moreau's grand ambition fails to recognize that what's tiny for the universe can be pretty huge to us.
"This store men and women set on pleasure and pain, Prendick, is the mark of the beast upon them, the mark of the beast from which they came." (14.26)
Suffering comes from the fact that we are animals. When we don't get life necessities or when we damage our bodies, nature uses pain and suffering to tell us, "Hey, stop doing that!" It's a shame then that empathy, the emotion that lets us know we are hurting others, is not natural.
"Each time I dip a living creature into the 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!" (14.41)
Meet Moreau in full-on mad scientist mode. He still recognizes pain for what it is, the nerves responding to bodily damage. But it's left him blind to the suffering of said pain. In the mad scientist cocktail, this type of ambition is a key ingredient.
When I heard that, I forgave the poor wretch all the fear he had inspired in me. (16.83)
Leopard Man has caused Prendick to suffer (more mentally than physically). However, seeing Leopard Man's own fear and suffering, Prendick has a moment of empathy and can forgive the creature. An empathy epiphany, if you will (sorry, but we're total word nerds here at Shmoop, and this kind of stuff makes us giggle).
The men in [the boat] were dead, had been dead so long that they fell to pieces when I tilted the boat on its side and dragged them out. (21.51)
Prendick's own suffering brought him to the island, and the suffering of others will allow him to leave. It's one of those "Circle of Life" deals, minus the Elton John pop musical number.
I did not know yet how far they were from the human heritage I ascribed to them. (11.24)
Evolution was a pretty new idea when Wells wrote The Island of Dr. Moreau, so it was still on everybody's mind (and it still is on everybody's mind). Prendick's thought here would have made the Victorian reader imagine evolution run amuck and threatening traditional views of morality.
The creatures I had seen were not men, had never been men. They were animals—humanised animals—triumphs of vivisection. (14.6)
Vivisection is hugely important to the text—so important, we gave it its own section in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory." Obviously the word triumph is used with some irony here. It's not meant to suggest an actual triumph at all but rather the complete disregard for the morality of the situation.
"The physiology, the chemical rhythm of the creature may also be made to undergo an enduring modification, of which vaccination and other methods of inoculation with living or dead matter are examples that will, no doubt, be familiar to you." (14.11)
Can't have a science fiction novel without a little scientific mumbo-jumbo, right? Actually, Moreau is comparing his vivisection experiments to the idea of a vaccination or inoculation, something that cures or prevents a disease. It makes the process sound more morally sound. Of course, there's a reason we have the expression "the cure is worse than the disease." It's for moments like this.
"In our growing science of hypnotism we find the promise of a possibility of replacing old inherent instincts by new suggestions, grafting upon or replacing the inherited fixed ideas." (14.15)
Science's understanding evolves throughout the decades. Take hypnotism. We now use hypnotism to make suggestions. We do this either to help the person in therapy or for our own sick amusement as we watch them cluck like a chicken. But graft new ideas onto the mind? Don't think so.
"Then I am a religious man, Prendick, as every sane man must be. It may be I fancy I have seen more of the ways of this world's Maker than you—for I have sought his laws, in my way, […]." (14.26)
Moreau claims he's a religious man and a scientist. He suggests that religion and science are not in conflict—only the confused notion of religion that people like Prendick have. Once we filter out all the touch-feely pain-is-bad stuff, religion and science can get along swimmingly.
"You cannot imagine the strange colourless delight of these intellectual desires. The thing before you is no longer an animal, a fellow-creature, but a problem." (14.27)
This is maybe the single best line in the whole novel regarding morality in science. When Moreau's worldview renders pain and suffering a problem, or puzzle, he tips the moral scales to the side of the immoral. But Moreau is too high on his "intellectual desires" to notice.
There was no evidence of the inheritance of the acquired human characteristics [in the babies]. (15.6)
Moreau thinks he's evolution incarnate. However, if his creatures don't pass on the human characteristics to their babies, then he's not really evolving them at all. You'd think he'd realize that fact, but nope. He's just too pig-headed. (Okay, we'll admit it. Pun intended.)
[Montgomery] had fancied they might serve for meat, but a rabbit-like habit of devouring their young had defeated this intention. (16.1)
One of the great things about science fiction is that it can sometimes consider ideas before anyone else can even imagine their possibility. Here, we see Moreau's vivisection acting like an early equivalent of gene splicing. It's kind of freaky actually, like reading a crystal ball.
Had Moreau had any intelligible object I could have sympathised at least a little with him. I am not so squeamish about pain as that. I could have forgiven him a little even had his motive been hate. But he was so irresponsible, so utterly careless. (16.92)
According to Prendick, science needs a goal. To simply go poking about at the great mysteries of the universe is irresponsible, immoral. Science is the pursuit of reason, so it needs a reason to be. To balance that idea, some of the greatest discoveries in human history have been made by accident. We didn't want to make things too easy on you.
Then we went into the laboratory and put an end to all we found living there. (18.35)
Sometimes you just have to know when to call it quits. When your experiment kills you, yeah, time to call it quits.