The Island of Dr. Moreau Summary
There's this guy named Prendick. He's decided to tell us his story and wastes no time getting to the good stuff. Right away, he barely survives the sinking of the ship The Lady Vain, escaping on a dinghy with two other guys. (In Wells's day "dinghy" was spelled "dingey". Prendick's dinghy was definitely dingy, but 'dingey'… weird. We'll leave the original spelling in quotes.) Low on food, water, and sanity, the other two dudes fight each other and fall into the ocean where a shark goes all Jaws on them. Prendick drifts for days, before being rescued by a passing ship, the Ipecacuanha.
On the ship, a man named Montgomery gives him the medical once-over, and the two quickly become friends. The same can't be said for Captain Davis though. When Montgomery and Davis argue over Montgomery's animal cargo, Prendick unwisely chooses to side with the guy who isn't the captain of the ship he's currently residing on rent free. This doesn't sit well with Davis, and once Montgomery and his cargo are off-loaded on the unnamed island, he promptly kicks Prendick's butt to the curb, erm... ocean.
Montgomery and his benefactor, one ominous Dr. Moreau, take pity on Prendick and invite him to their tropical crib. They warn him that certain areas of Moreau's house will be off limits. Red flags for Prendick? You bet…Still, it beats being adrift in the ocean again or staying at a Motel 6 for that matter.
The next day, Moreau begins experimenting on a brand new puma—sure, why not—and the blood-curdling screams of pain and suffering freak Prendick out so much he bolts it into the jungle… And we know from Lost that that can't be good. Still seriously spooked he explores the creepy island and discovers several creatures that look like mixtures between men and pigs. (Okay, that's weird...) While promptly getting lost, Prendick feels he's being followed, and the age old game of cat and mouse—or in this case big cat and man—begins. Prendick barely manages to escape by bonking the creature over the head with a stone.
The next morning, Prendick finds the door to Moreau's lab unlocked and enters. There he discovers Moreau and Montgomery cutting into and experimenting with a man while still alive. Fearing he's next, Prendick flees into the forest again—you know, because that worked so well for him last time.
This time he meets a half-man, half-ape creature creatively called Ape Man. Ape Man takes him to a village of other half-human, half-animal creatures collectively known as the Beast Folk. Prendick is inducted into their society by chanting the law with the Sayer of the Law. This law centers on the Beast Folk acting like humans rather than animals so as not to return to the House of Pain.
Moreau and Montgomery arrive at the village right as the musical number ends. Prendick flees again, but Moreau corners him on the beach and convinces him to come to the enclosure for an explanation. There, Moreau says he created the Beast Folk from animals (not humans as Prendick had feared) using vivisection. His goal is to make them fully human. Big shock: This isn't as easy as it sounds and Moreau has yet to produce one successful result. But he's confident he'll manage perfection one day, so points for gumption if not career choice.
The next day, Prendick and Montgomery go on a walk and find a dead rabbit. The two tell Moreau, and Moreau confronts the Beast Folk about the breaking of his law. (Because killing rabbits is not what humans do… oh wait…) The Leopard Man attacks Moreau rather than be sent back to the House of Pain. A hunt ensues. Prendick corners the Leopard Man, but he shoots the creature out of pity rather than let Moreau torture it.
Six weeks pass, and Prendick's stay isn't quite as relaxing as most Pacific vacations (go figure). While outside for a smoke, he is attacked by the puma as it escapes the enclosure. Moreau is in hot pursuit, leaving Prendick to deal with his newly broken arm himself. Montgomery arrives and sets Prendick's broken arm. The two head into the forest with Montgomery's loyal bear-dog-ox companion, M'ling, only to find that Moreau and the puma have killed each other.
That night, Montgomery finally breaks down and goes drinking with M'ling. While Montgomery tries to get the party started, Prendick sees the writing on the wall and prepares to leave the island. A kerfuffle breaks out on the beach, and Prendick hurries to see if Montgomery is all right. He isn't; he's dead. But the bad luck doesn't stop there, as the enclosure burns to the ground. On top of that, Montgomery used the only ship on the island for his party bonfire. Looks like Prendick's stay will be extended just a wee bit.
Prendick takes up residence with the Beast Folk. He gains a companion in Dog Man and an enemy in Hyena-Swine. He spends months on the island constructing a raft, but the thing falls apart the first time he tries to set sail. (Now we know where Lost got the idea.) Lucky for him, a boat washes ashore with two dead guys in it. With the Beast Folk returning to their wild and pre-Moreau selves, Prendick decides he'd rather take his chances with the ocean again than stay on the island.
Eventually, a boat picks up Prendick and returns him to London. But now Prendick can no longer stand to be surrounded by people. Whenever he goes to church or the market, he sees the Beast Folk in the movements and eyes of his countrymen. (Just wait until they invent nightclubs, Prendick old chap.) So he moves to the country, takes up astronomy, and lives his life in relative peace. He's had about enough excitement for one life.
In the Dingey of the "Lady Vain"
- The narrator opens with the story of a ship called the Lady Vain.
- As the story goes, not only does the Lady Vain manage to stumble upon an abandoned ship somewhere in the vast emptiness of the Pacific Ocean, she also manages to collide with it and sink as a result. Oops.
- But contrary to the official story of seven survivors, there was actually an eighth, whose story is "as horrible and far stranger" (1.1). This survivor is—wait for it—our narrator himself.
- When the ship goes down, the narrator, a fellow passenger named Helmar, and a "short, sturdy" seaman "with a stammer" (1.3) manage to escape aboard a dinghy—that's ship speak for a small boat used as a lifeboat.
- Another man, Constans, almost makes it on the dinghy, but his head strikes a block, and he drowns in the ocean. The narrator says it is lucky for them (and Constans) that he died. Yikes, you know you're having a bad day when that's your lucky streak.
- The dinghy moves away from the other survivor boats. It also doesn't have enough water or sea biscuits aboard. The pleasure cruise has officially ended, people.
- The dinghy drifts for eight days on the glassy sea. Finally, Helmar gives "voice to the thing we all had in mind" (1.4). The narrator isn't specific about what the thing is, but the ambiguity kind of gives the scene a more haunting vibe, doesn't it?
- Initially, the narrator refuses to draw lots for "the thing." Then he sees the seaman and Helmar talking one night, so he agrees to go along with it before they can form an alliance Survivor-style.
- The sailor draws the short straw. Naturally, he doesn't seem fond of the outcome and decides he won't go down without a fight. During the scuffle, he and Helmar tumble into the sea and drown. The narrator laughs.
- The narrator drifts alone and considers suicide by drinking sea water.
- Science Snack: Sea water contains salt in the form of sodium—hold on, we're getting to the interesting part. People consume salt every day, so why would drinking sea water kill our narrator? Well, the problem is the amount of salt present in sea water, roughly 35 grams of salt per kilogram of water. The average human body can easily get by on as little as 2,300 milligrams per day. So, when you drink sea water, your kidneys have to process way, way more salt than usual. The result? Your kidneys have to create extra urine to process all that sodium, meaning a person who drinks seawater actually pees away more water than they take in from drinking the sea water. Of course, when you're super thirsty, all that water starts to look mighty tasty.
- Back to the story, where a schooner—ship-speak for masted sailing vessel—finds and saves our narrator. He is delirious while being pulled aboard, but he remembers being given something to drink by "a dark face [man] with extraordinary eyes" (1.8).
The Man Who Was Going Nowhere
- Waking up in a strange cabin, our narrator discovers a man staring at him. The man has a medical background and has nursed the narrator back to health.
- The man tries to explain how the narrator is on the trader schooner of one Captain Davis. But all the narrator hears is a voice that sounds like a mix between a growl and a human voice. Weird.
- Paying the growl no heed, the medical man talks about the injections he gave the narrator. The narrator interrupts and asks for actual food. With the ten-or-so days adrift on a barren sea, his stomach must be rumbling something fierce.
- The mutton isn't ready yet though. So, instead of getting food, the medical man asks to hear the narrator's story. Then he suddenly leaves and complains about the howling.
- An argument occurs between medical man and some unknown person; it might have ended with fists. We don't know about the narrator, but that seems a tad worrisome coming from the man who was injecting you with unknown substances beforehand.
- When the medical man returns, the narrator tells him his name—it's Edward Prendick—and his story.
- We learn a bit about the medical man, too. Apparently, he has done some research in biology, and he seems to miss London terribly.
- The medical man goes to fetch Prendick's mutton, and the growling returns with "savage anger" (2.22). Prendick asks what it is, but the medical man either doesn't hear him or ignores him. Which do you think it is?
- After a day of eating and sleeping, Prendick feels good enough to walk around the ship a bit.
- Finally, we learn the medical man's name is Montgomery when he gives Prendick new duds to wear.
- Prendick asks where the ship is going. Turns out, its ultimate destination is Hawaii. Good on you, Prendick. But before anyone can get their tan on, Montgomery has to be dropped off at his destination. It's a secluded island in the Pacific with no name. You know, the perfect set up for a super villain's lair.
The Strange Face
- A mysterious man is blocking Prendick and Montgomery's way to the deck. Prendick describes him as "misshapen" with a face "suggestive of a muzzle" (3.1-2).
- Montgomery yells at the man to get out of the way, and the man does so like a whipped dog.
- The abuse continues as Montgomery yells at the man again for not being where he's supposed to be. The man says the others don't want him there, which only serves to make Montgomery even angrier. Doesn't take much with Montgomery, does it?
- The mysterious man's ugliness continues to strike Prendick. This time he also believes he sees an odd familiarity in the face, as if he's seen the man before.
- On the deck, Prendick is taken aback by how dirty everything is. Dogs are tied to the mainmast. Scraps of food and "indescribable filth" are flung about everywhere (3.7). There's also a puma, a llama, and some rabbits. In short, the world's worst petting zoo put out to sea.
- Prendick questions Montgomery about the animals, but the man is tight-lipped on the subject.
- A red-haired guy attacks the mysterious man, knocking him to the ground. The mysterious man lands near the dogs, which get excited and attack. Thankfully for the mysterious man, the dogs are muzzled.
- Montgomery and the red-haired man, who turns out to be one Captain Davis, go at it. Montgomery has an anger issue, but Captain Davis is skunk drunk, so they're more-or-less evenly matched.
- Complaining that Captain Davis and his crew have hazed the mysterious man too much, Montgomery demands they stop.
- Captain Davis counter-complains that his ship is a total wreck because of the animals.
- On that note, it's his ship so it makes sense he's upset. Plus, he and his crew can't stand the sight of the mysterious man because he's an "ugly devil" (3.31). Captain of the debate team he is not.
- History Snack: Captain Davis refers to Montgomery as "Sawbones" (3.18). Sawbones is an old slang nickname for a doctor, particularly a surgeon. Back in the mid-1800s, anesthesia and antiseptics were not well understood, and surgeons had very few ways of dealing with life threatening injuries. Their main recourse was to amputate limps with a saw, hence the nickname. Got a bullet in your leg? Amputate. Have some gangrene in your thumb? Cut it off. Come down with the flu? Well, then you could probably get away with a bleeding, a cure as equally poor for your health as the disease.
- Stepping between the two men, Prendick tells Captain Davis to shut up. The Captain curses at him like, well, the drunken sailor he is.
- Prendick is relieved he stopped the fight.
At the Schooner's Rail
- Land is spotted, and Montgomery believes it is his destination.
- Dinner is a bit awkward, what with the Captain sleeping off his drink and the first mate equally peeved at Montgomery. Good times.
- Afterward, Montgomery and Prendick talk on the quarter-deck. Montgomery asks Prendick about London.
- Prendick wonders about Montgomery: what drove him from London? Why the animals? Why would an educated man live on an island in the Pacific? All good questions.
- The two stay up until midnight talking. Bro crush imminent.
- Prendick tries to thank Montgomery for saving him, but Montgomery brushes away the gratitude. He says it was chance that saved him, nothing more, nothing less. Bro crush waning.
- Montgomery decides to tell Prendick his story, but Prendick tells him not to, claiming "[it's] all the same to [him]" (4.17). Bro crush totally back on.
- Prendick spots Montgomery's mysterious companion leaning over the taffrail. When the mysterious man looks his way, Prendick notices the man's eyes shine with a pale green light, starkly inhuman.
- In a flash, all of his childhood fears come back to him, but only for a moment. Then the mysterious man looks down and is just a man again. Creepy.
- That night, Prendick sleeps fitfully as the hounds bark at the moonlight. Sounds spooky.
The Landing on the Island
- Prendick wakes up to the sound of activity on the deck. When he goes up top, he discovers that the ship has docked with another ship, called a launch, while he slept.
- On deck, the puma, numerous packages, and the menagerie of caged animals are being dropped into the hands of the people from the island to be taken ashore. Prendick finds a still drunk Captain Davis, shouting in his roaring voice for the riff-raff to get off his boat. Oh, and that riff-raff includes our narrator. He has to get off the ship, too.
- At first, he's a-okay with this. After all, it means he can now spend more time with his new BFF, Montgomery, and isn't trapped in the middle of the ocean with a drunken sailor who hates his guts. Unfortunately, a white-haired, broad-shouldered man who has showed up next to Montgomery and appears to be the island's head-honcho, says they won't take him either. Uh-oh.
- An argument breaks out between Prendick, Captain Davis, and the white-haired man, whose authority outstrips Montgomery's. The three bicker over what's to become of our narrator, whom no one wants to keep around.
- Understandably, Prendick gets frustrated and heads to the back of the boat. Captain Davis continues to drunkenly get in everyone's way, and Montgomery's workers finish unloading their stuff.
- Then things take a turn for the worse for dear Prendick. Davis's men try to drag him off the ship, but the workers separate the two ships quickly. Problem solved; nothing Captain Davis can do now. Right?
- Wrong. Davis's men take their unwanted guest to the stern where they kept the old dinghy from the Lady Vain. They throw Prendick in the little raft that has neither water, nor provisions, nor ores, and set him adrift.
- Prendick finds himself in the same weak-sauce predicament that got him into this equally weak-sauce predicament. He prays that God would just let him die. Seriously weak.
The Evil-Looking Boatmen
- Prendick drifts alone. Better late than never, Montgomery and his crew take pity on him. Montgomery brings the launch around and connects the two boats by a rope.
- The launch hauls the dinghy toward the shore, and Prendick has to bail out the water to keep afloat. He checks out the launch's workers. Other than Montgomery and the white-haired man, the workers are wrapped in strange, dirty, white cloth from head to toe and have abnormally long bodies and twisted features. The look of them gives Prendick "a spasm of disgust" (6.5).
- The workers all turn away from Prendick when they notice his staring. He assumes his stares are annoying them. In their defense, a complete stranger staring at you in disgust can be annoying at times.
- Once docked, the workers start unloading the launch. Prendick notices they walk with "curious movements" due to their distorted legs (6.7). They also talk in "odd guttural tones" that sound like a foreign language to Prendick (6.7).
- The white-haired man welcomes Prendick to the island and is intrigued to learn his new guest has a bit of training in biology. Turns out he is a biologist as well and works on the island. Hmm, scientist? Solitary island? Experiments? Yeah, this'll turn out well.
- Montgomery joins his friend, and Prendick thanks him for saving his life yet again. Montgomery starts to warn him about something, but then changes his mind. Then the two release rabbits into the island's forest instead.
- The white-haired man returns with biscuits and brandy for Prendick. Prendick enjoys the biscuits but abstains from the alcohol, explaining he's a teetotaler.
The Locked Door
- Prendick starts the chapter by addressing the reader directly. He notes how the strangeness of the situation—something obvious to us by this point—went right over his head. Give him a break though; dude's been through a lot lately.
- Back to the story. The white-haired man is eager to get back to work with his "new stuff" (7.5), so he needs to find something to do with Prendick. They don't have the time to build a shanty for their guest, and the white-haired man doesn't want Prendick wandering throughout the enclosure or around the island.
- Montgomery offers one of his rooms on the outer part of the enclosure. The white-haired man agrees.
- Inside the apartment, he locks a door leading deeper into the enclosure "for fear of accidents" (7.13). Right… Prendick finds a bunch of surgical books in ancient Greek and Latin.
- The two leave Prendick in his new apartment. Montgomery calls after the white-haired man as they exit. Prendick hears the name "Moreau." He recognizes the name but can't quite place it. He sets his thinker to thinking on it.
- The mysterious man with the crazy eyes from the boat comes into Prendick's apartment, bringing breakfast. Now closer than before, Prendick notices the man has pointed ears covered in fur.
- Light bulb! Prendick remembers where he heard the name Moreau.
- Turns out, Moreau had been a famous physiologist back in England. One day, a journalist gained access to Moreau's laboratory. There, he discovered Moreau was performing vivisection. The pamphlet the journalist wrote turned public opinion against Moreau, so Moreau had to high-tail it out of London. Prendick thinks that Moreau kind of got a raw deal and that the "desertion by the great body of scientific workers was a shameful thing" (7.20).
- History Snack: Scientists used to dissect animals while they were still alive. The process was called vivisection. It's hugely important to The Island of Dr. Moreau, so we'll need more space to talk about it. Swing on by our discussion in the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section to find out more.
- Prendick realizes the gruesome fate in store for the puma, llama, and other animals and recognizes the smell of the operating room permeating the enclosure. However, he knows vivisection alone couldn't account for all of Moreau's secrecy.
- "What could it all mean? A locked enclosure on a lonely island, a notorious vivisector, and these crippled and distorted men?" (7.23)
The Crying of the Puma
- Montgomery joins Prendick for dinner. The mysterious glow-in-the-dark-eyed, fur-eared man serves them. Bon Appetit….
- Prendick mentions the pointy ears and fur to Montgomery, but Montgomery acts surprised, feigning ignorance. Prendick can tell he is lying on account that he is a really, really bad liar.
- During dinner, the two men can hear the puma howling and screaming as it is vivisected. Montgomery tries to play it cool, but his body language and attempts to drown his liver in whiskey show his unease.
- After dinner, Prendick tries to read, but the puma's cries only grow more frequent and louder. Unable to deal with it, he storms outside and wanders away.
- "The crying sounded even louder out of doors. It was as if all the pain in the world had found a voice. Yet had I known such pain was in the next room, and had it be dumb [i.e. silent], 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)
- Them's some heavy duty thoughts...
The Thing in the Forest
- Prendick strolls into the forest and finds the scenery has a pleasant charm to it.
- He sees something on the other side of a stream. He goes to investigate and sees it's a man on all-fours, drinking from the stream like an animal.
- He tries to get a better view but accidentally knocks over a rock. Of course, the sound of the rock alerts the man to Prendick's presence. How come nobody knows how to sneak properly in these stories?
- The two stare at each other. Prendick notices the same oddness in shape as the other men on the island.
- The man slinks back into the forest, but now Prendick's feel-good nature-walk is over. He even jumps at a rabbit rustling in the bushes.
- He hears the puma's screams again and decides heading in the opposite direction from the screaming would be a good idea. He comes across the body of a dead bunny, its head torn off. Prendick's senses are now registering at code red.
- He stumbles across "three grotesque human[s]" (9.8). Having learned his lesson previously, he manages not to do something stupid, like break a twig or kick a rock, but remains still and watches.
- One of the men talks to the other two, and they all begin to sway back and forth. Then they start chanting and getting excited, like a religious ceremony or a dance. For the first time, Prendick clearly recognizes the "unmistakable mark of the beast" (9.10). They get so excited that one slips and briefly falls on all four. The "true animalism of these monsters" is revealed to Prendick (9.17).
- He's out of there lickity split.
- Prendick dashes through the forest and almost runs into the creature he'd seen drinking from the stream. He hides, hoping "the Thing" (9.13) doesn't see him. While hiding, Prendick wonders whether it is a man or a beast.
- Prendick decides to take a gamble and confronts the creature. He asks him who he is, but the creature escapes into the forest again.
- Night begins to descend on the island, and Prendick is in the last place he wants to be. He tries to find his way back to the enclosure but gets lost instead. Worse, the creature is stalking him in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Prendick is not the cat in this scenario.
- Prendick snags a rock for a weapon, and his stalker retreats into the forest.
- Prendick makes his way to the beach and frantically runs toward the light of the enclosure. He hears the creature give chase. Prendick loses strength with each step as pain cramps in his chest. The creature gains on him. In an act of sheer desperation, he turns and strikes at the creature with the rock, hitting it on the head. The creature is knocked out cold. Intense.
- The puma's screams seem to beckon Prendick back to the house.
The Crying of the Man
- Montgomery is waiting for Prendick at the apartment. He tries to talk with his friend, but Prendick just falls upon him in utter exhaustion. Montgomery believes Prendick's current condition calls for a bit of brandy. Prendick agrees.
- Prendick's nerves are frayed and rightfully so. He questions Montgomery about the creatures, wanting to know if they are men or beasts (man-beasts? beast-men?).
- Montgomery says to just think of them as bogles (i.e., ghosts) for now. He has Prendick drink a liquid, and Prendick goes to lullaby land.
- Prendick awakens to find breakfast laid out for him. While he eats, Montgomery comes in to check on him, forgetting to lock the inner door. Oh, plot conveniences, how we love you.
- Prendick barges into the adjoining room and sees Moreau vivisecting a human being. Blood is everywhere, and the book has officially stepped into Eli Roth territory.
- Montgomery rushes Prendick out of the laboratory and shuts the door.
- Prendick hears Moreau and Montgomery arguing from inside. He can't understand everything they are saying—something about "[r]uin[ing] the work of a lifetime" (10.24)—but one thing he's sure of: he's in danger.
The Hunting of the Man
- Prendick has a freak out moment—quite reasonable given the circumstances. He desperately tries to find a weapon and tears the side rail off a chair. A nail comes with the rail, so now he's got a makeshift nail-bat.
- He hears a noise outside and flings open the door, catching Montgomery in the act of trying to lock him in. He swings the nail-bat at Montgomery but misses. Doesn't matter though because Prendick does what he does best. He runs.
- Once in the forest, he stops and takes stock of his predicament. He's facing two vivisectors with guns and a forest full of beast creatures; not to mention he doesn't know the lay of the land or have any food or water. You've heard the expression, "up a creek without a paddle"? Well, Prendick's up the creek without even a boat at this point.
- He decides that, if necessary, he'll walk into the ocean and commit suicide (not much of a strategist either).
- He notices a black face watching him from the trees. It turns out to be an ape-like man. This creature comes down from the tree, having recognized Prendick from the boat.
- The creature, whom Prendick soon refers to as Ape Man, takes a keen interest in counting Prendick's fingers. Prendick is already relieved—this fellow can talk. In beast society, human-like hands are especially valued since most of the beast people have deformed hands. Since Prendick is a natural human, he gets a free pass on this one.
- Prendick asks for something to eat, and Ape Man beckons him to follow. He takes him to what he calls the "huts" located in a deep ravine.
The Sayers of the Law
- Inside the ravine, Prendick finds a village of huts serving as the creatures' homes. The huts are little more than "heaps of sea-mat, palm fans and reeds leaning against the rock" (12.2). The lighting is poor, and the piles of rotting food and waste ensure a nasty smell—still better living accommodations than your average college dorm.
- Prendick follows the Ape Man into a hut and there meets the Sayer of the Law. The Sayer tells him that if he wants to live with them he must learn and speak the Law. Considering the alternative, Prendick goes along for the ride.
- The Beast Folk recite the Law. A religious fervor takes hold of them as they chant. Here's a sample of the Law:
- "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 the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?/ Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?" (12.18)
- There is way more to it than that, but to get the whole unworldly vibe, you really need to dive into the book itself.
- Prendick goes along with the ceremony as if the whole thing is one of those improvised musical numbers from Grease. Deep down he thinks the whole thing is stupid.
- During the chants, the Beast Folk mention a "House of Pain" belonging to an unnamed man (12.20). Prendick wonders if Moreau has made himself a god amongst them.
- One of the Swine Men yells something into the hut, and Ape Man rushes outside. Prendick hears a hound's yelp and joins them.
- Outside the hut, Moreau and Montgomery are coming into the village, locked and loaded. The Beast Folk are excited about Moreau's visit, as if he's the president and Pope all rolled into one.
- Moreau cries for the Beast Folk to grab Prendick, but Prendick is too quick. He dodges his way through them, hitting a poor sloth-like creature dead-on with his makeshift nail-bat.
- Prendick scurries out of the ravine and back into the open. He runs for a while and can still hear the hounds behind him. So much for the Beast Folk's help. Time for a new plan, Prendick old chap.
- Prendick heads down to the sea and formulates a new plan. With Montgomery and Moreau hunting him, he can sneak to the enclosure and get a gun. Brilliant.
- Never mind.
- Moreau, Montgomery, and some Beast Folk find him instead.
- Montgomery asks Prendick what he's doing. Prendick runs into the ocean and says he's going to drown himself rather than become one of Moreau's experiments. If you're keeping score, this is the third time Prendick has had the ocean threaten his life.
- Moreau is confused and asks Prendick to calm down and talk to him. Prendick decides to try to rally the Beast Folk against Moreau instead. Man, you just know that's going to come back to bite him in the butt.
- Side note: The beast person named M'ling is the same mysterious man from the boat and who served Prendick breakfast in the apartment. Why his name is only now being revealed is beyond us.
- Moreau tells Prendick to shut up and explains something in Latin. The Latin says, roughly, that the Beast Folk are not men but animals.
- Moreau and Montgomery drop their revolvers to prove themselves. Moreau also mentions that he has already had plenty of opportunities to experiment on Prendick if he had wanted to.
- That includes last night when Prendick was drugged and sleeping. Actually, that makes sense.
- Montgomery cracks his whip to scare the Beast Folk back into the forest. Prendick comes ashore and takes the revolvers, shooting a lava rock to be sure they work. They do.
- The trio head back to the enclosure with Moreau, peeved that Prendick has wasted half a day already.
Doctor Moreau Explains
- After a bite to eat, Moreau explains the whole crazy situation. Before we get into this chapter, we're just going to give you a little warning. Summary cannot possibly do this chapter justice. To really get to know Moreau, you need to read this one in his own words. Also don't forget to check out Moreau's page in the "Character Analysis" section.
- Okay, back to the story. Moreau explains that many scientists have used vivisection to graft one body part to another—for example, grafting part of a forehead to an injured nose to fix the nose.
- Well, Moreau believes he's taking such techniques to the next level, modifying creatures in their "most intimate structure" (14.12).
- In effect, he wants to use vivisection to change animals into whatever he wants them to be, human form in this case.
- As for pain, Moreau claims pain is all in the mind. To prove it, he sticks a knife in his leg. Ouch.
- Moreau believes what he is doing is not immoral. Quite the opposite, since pain will be "ground out of existence by evolution" anyway (15.25). He claims he's helping mankind by discovering God's laws through the pain he inflicts on the animals. Nothing like a steaming hot cup of rationalization to perk one's spirits, eh?
- What does he want from all of this? Simply "to find the extreme limit of plasticity in a living shape" (15.27). Why? Well, it's left a tad ambiguous as to why, but he seems to think it will help humanity in some way.
- He then tells Prendick his personal story. After being driven from London, Moreau settled on the island with Montgomery and six Kanakas people.
- When he first started, he couldn't get the beast folk human enough. He killed his first sheep person just to put it out of its misery.
- Then he worked on an ape. It was better but still not up to his liking, so he gave it to the Kanakas people to deal with. Like a boarding school for experiment rejects, the Kanakas took in the Ape Man and taught him basic counting, speaking, and reading skills.
- Moreau resolved to do better. So he kept bringing animals to the island and vivisecting them until they became more like humans.
- Each time, he performs a bit better, but he still sees the imperfections—the animal—in his creation and vows to get it right next time. In short, he's the mad-scientist-equivalent of George Lucas re-releasing the Star Wars films over and over again.
- As for the Kanakas, well, they're all gone. Some died by accident, some of them left, and one was murdered by one of Moreau's half-finished creations. However, the Kanakas's teachings still influence the Beast Folk and their society.
- Moreau ends his story and requests that Prendick get some sleep. He actually does fall asleep—and rather quickly considering the bedtime story he just endured.
Concerning the Beast Folk
- The next morning, M'ling serves Prendick a rabbit breakfast.
- Montgomery joins his friend, and Prendick picks his brain for information on the Beast Folk.
- Montgomery explains. He and Moreau are kept safe by controlling the creatures' minds. It's kind of like hypnotism. Instead of having them all strut about like wild animals, Moreau hypnotizes them to believe they cannot perform certain acts. These hypnotic suggestions are the Laws Prendick heard.
- Yet, the Law is not all-powerful. The animal part of the Beast Folk becomes strongest during the night.
- Prendick also learns about the island. It's a volcanic island with hot springs and coral reefs on three sides. It's like a Hawaiian island, only less horrific since it's filled with Beast Folk and not tourists in those ugly shirts.
- Next, Prendick details a usual suspect's line up of the Beast Folk. He notes that the most formidable of the Beast Folk are the Leopard Man and the hyena and swine mixture.
- There's also a satyr-like creature made of ape and goat, a couple of wolf people, a horse-rhinoceros combo, and more. Check out your book for a full list because things get really bizarre.
- Sadly, Man-Bear-Pig is nowhere to seen.
- He also gets to know M'ling, who is "a bear tainted with dog and ox" (15.11). Unlike the other Beast Folk, M'ling lives in a kennel at the enclosure. He's super docile and has been taught to cook, serve food, and perform other chores.
- Montgomery and M'ling have an interesting relationship: M'ling devotes himself completely to Montgomery. On the other hand, Montgomery can either be affectionate or down-right abusive to M'ling, depending on how much booze he has in him.
- Over time, Prendick grows accustomed to the Beast Folk. Every now and then, though, he'll notice some abnormal feature in them, and his initial disgust returns.
How the Beast Folk Tasted Blood
- Montgomery and Prendick take a walk to the hot springs for a relaxing afternoon. They carry whips and revolvers with them because you can never be too careful when relaxing, you know?
- They come across a tree with deep scratches in it, and Montgomery notes how some of the Beast Folk don't care for the Law.
- They run into Satyr and Ape Man. Montgomery introduces Prendick as the "Third [man] with a whip" (16.5). The two are confused. They figured Moreau made him since he bled and wept—two things Moreau and Montgomery never do. Prendick just doesn't have the respect yet.
- On the way back from the hot spring, Montgomery and Prendick come across another dead rabbit.
- Prendick relates his story about finding a dead rabbit the other day. The news concerns Montgomery as this is a violation of the Law, and he wants to know if Prendick could recognize the killer if he saw him again. He believes he could, considering the bruise on the forehead he gave the beast.
- They go and tell Moreau, who agrees something must be done immediately.
- Moreau, Montgomery, M'ling, and Prendick head to the huts. Moreau sounds a horn like he's in a Ricola commercial, and the Beast Folk arrive and begin to chant. The Leopard Man comes late, sporting a big old bruise.
- Moreau has the Sayer of the Law recite, well, the law. When they get to the part about not eating flesh, Moreau calls for them to stop and says, "That Law has been broken" (15.62).
- He begins questioning the Beast Folk. He's got that parent "I'm not mad, just disappointed" vibe going for him.
- The Beast Folk clamor about returning the perp back to the "House of Pain" (16.69). The Leopard Man doesn't find this idea appealing—he runs off and attacks Moreau.
- Moreau survives, and the men and beasts form a hunting party. The Beast Folk are enjoying themselves perhaps a tad too much, reverting to their four-legged gait at times.
- Prendick is the first to find the Leopard Man and a strange sensation befalls him:
- "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 once again the fact of its humanity" (16.84)
- Rather than turn him over to Moreau, he decides to shoot him "between its terror-struck eye" (16.84).
- The Hyena-Swine sees the quarry. Leopard Man is already dead, but Hyena-Swine attacks anyway, sinking its teeth into the neck. The other Beast Folk join in the fray, and Montgomery and Moreau have to fight them off.
- So much for pacifying the blood lust.
- Prendick watches as the others cast Leopard Man into the sea. Prendick comes to the realization that a "blind Fate, a vast pitiless mechanism, seem[s] to cut and shape the fabric of existence," and this mechanism will eventually crush them all (16.92). Wow, that's depressing. Going to need an Arrested Development break before the next chapter.
- About six weeks pass, and now Prendick only wants to get away from Moreau and his vile experiments. Even Montgomery is no comfort since his drunkenness and sympathy for the Beast Folk "taint him to [Prendick]" (17.1). He waits every day for a ship to come, but the guy just can't catch a break.
- One day, Prendick is having a cigarette when he bumps into Moreau entering his laboratory. You know, just another work day vivisecting a puma. When suddenly, bam the puma escapes.
- It knocks Prendick over in its flight, breaking his arm in the process.
- Moreau emerges with a revolver and a gash across his forehead. Without a word to Prendick, he chases after the puma.
- Montgomery shows up and demands to know exactly what happened. Prendick tells him while he sets his arm.
- Locking down the enclosure, he rejoins Prendick just long enough to hand him a revolver, and then he's off to look for Moreau.
- While waiting, Prendick sees a Beast Man run to the water's edge and begin splashing in the waves.
- He also hears a couple pistol shots. His imagination does what imaginations do in such situations: makes matters worse.
- Montgomery returns with M'ling. He informs Prendick the Beast Folk have gone berserk, that "'[t]hey're mad. They're all rushing about mad'" (17.19). Like a man returning from the Black Friday sale, Montgomery hits the brandy.
- He takes a few breaths and tells Prendick what happened. He'd followed Moreau and the puma's trail for a while but lost it in the foliage. He headed westward and ran into M'ling, who joined him. They found their way to the ravine, but the place was empty.
- On their way back, Montgomery and M'ling were attacked by two Swine-Men. Montgomery shot one while M'ling fought the other. M'ling seriously injured his assailant, and Montgomery shot that one, too.
- He also found and killed the injured Ocelot Man, but this one was a mercy killing.
- Prendick asks what it all means.
- Montgomery answers by having another drink.
The Finding of Moreau
- Prendick convinces Montgomery that they need to look for Moreau instead of drinking themselves stupid.
- The trio (trusty M'ling comes along) head out, but it's not long before they run into some Beast Folk.
- The Ape-Man, the Sayer of the Law, and some others are arguing whether or not Moreau is really dead. The Ape Man (whom Wells sometimes calls Monkey Man—oh out-of-date biological classification) is particularly concerned about what will happen to the Law now that Moreau has gone.
- Prendick realizes the implications of all this and convinces the gathered Beast Folk, the "Children of the Law" (18.18), that Moreau is still alive. He's only discarded his body, changed his shape, and gone to the sky. But the Law is still alive and to be feared.
- Montgomery, still drunk, understands and plays along.
- The group heads to Moreau's body, and en route, they are attacked by a feral beast. Prendick shoots it dead and uses the situation to prove the Law's existence. The Beast Folk agree that if Prendick "sends the Fire that kills" then the Law must still exist (18.33).
- They find both the body of the puma and Moreau, each having killed the other. Moreau's revolver is missing.
- They carry Moreau's body back to the enclosure. The Beast Folk leave, and M'ling rests. Prendick and Montgomery take the opportunity to kill what remains in Moreau's laboratory.
Montgomery's "Bank Holiday"
- Prendick and Montgomery try to figure out what they're going to do now. Prendick thinks their best option is to head for civilization, but Montgomery believes society won't accept him back. Apparently he blundered once and that was enough (although we still don't know what exactly he did).
- Montgomery busts out the only play he has left in his playbook: it's time to get drunk.
- Prendick abstains, so Montgomery finds M'ling to be his binge buddy.
- Three other Beast Folk emerge from the forest. Montgomery and M'ling convince them to join the party and move it to the forest.
- Prendick decides that tomorrow morning he will load supplies into the dinghy and sail out to sea.
- Daylight comes while Prendick is foraging for supplies in Moreau's laboratory. On the beach, a ruckus arises followed by the blast of a revolver.
- Prendick rushes outside, knocking over some cases as he goes. A bonfire blazes on the beach. Prendick sees the muzzle flash of Montgomery's revolver, and recognizing a party foul when he sees one, rushes to aid his friend.
- Montgomery lies beneath an injured Wolf Man. Prendick pulls the beast off of his friend and shoots it to put it out of its misery. Surveying the scene, he sees M'ling, a Bull Man, and the Sayer of the Law are also dead.
- He spies another detail. The wood used to build the bonfire; yeah, it came from the ships. Prendick is marooned.
- At least he has the enclosure's supplies. Oh, wait. Remember those cases Prendick knocked to the ground while running to help Montgomery? The lantern fell off them and lit the entire enclosure on fire. It burns to the ground.
- Montgomery tries to apologize, but it's one of those can't-quite-get-the-words-out death speeches. He dies in Prendick's arms.
- Three beast folk emerge inquisitively from the forest…
Alone with the Beast Folk
- Prendick uses his whip and revolver to convince the Beast Folk the Law still holds sway. Oh, and doing what Prendick says, that is also the Law.
- He has the three Beast Folk bury Montgomery and his fellow party goers in the sea.
- Hyena-Swine stumbles upon the scene. Prendick commands him to salute and bow, but Hyena-Swine asks, "Who are you, that I should…." (20.21). Prendick tries to show him, but the beast escapes into the forest.
- Prendick realizes two things. First, the Beast Folk will now begin to change back into animals without Moreau. Second, they now understand that men with whips can be killed.
- Prendick goes to the ravine. The Beast Folk give him food, and he falls asleep in one of their huts.
The Reversion of the Beast Folk
- And as with so many chapters before, we begin with Prendick waking up. This time he has a dog man sleeping next to him, whom he calls—you guessed it—Dog Man.
- Dog Man pledges his undying loyalty. His scene reminds us of something from Pixar's Up, only with the family-friendly atmosphere replaced with a bleak, dreary survival-of-the-fittest tone.
- Prendick joins a group of Beast Folk sitting around a fire. He explains to them that the Master is not dead, and that the House of Pain will one day return. "Woe be to him who breaks the Law," he says (21.28).
- Thus begins Prendick's life alone amongst the Beast Folk. He lives with them and eats with them. He tries to hunt down the only true threat to his existence, but he just can't catch that wascally Hyena-Swine.
- Over time, the Beast Folk devolve into full-on animals. Only they don't become regular animals since Moreau constructed them with various parts of different animals. So the island is now filled with hybrid creatures like a horse-rhinoceros and cow-cats.
- Dog Man reverts into a dog dog, but remains Prendick's companion.
- After some months, Prendick decides to build a raft. One problem: he has no skill as a carpenter, so his raft breaks before he can get it into the water.
- One day after the raft incident, Prendick discovers Hyena-Swine has killed his dog. Using one of his precious revolver rounds, Prendick kills Hyena-Swine, losing both his best friend and worst enemy in less than an hour.
- Prendick takes to sleeping during the day so he can be alert at night. He begins rebuilding the raft, but as luck would have it, he doesn't need to.
- A small boat washes ashore with two dead men in it. One might be Captain Davis from the beginning of the novel, but it's not certain.
- Prendick takes the boat and gathers up supplies. He's leaving the island at last.
The Man Alone
- Prendick casts off into the sea… the same place he started his misadventure. Man, not only does this guy have bad luck, but it's circular bad luck.
- Anyway, he drifts for a couple of days but is eventually rescued.
- He tries to tell the captain and the first mate about his adventures, but they assume the perils he faced on the open sea have fried his brain. Prendick decides not to tell anyone of his time on Moreau's island ever again for fear of being taken to a white room with padded walls...
- Terror diseases Prendick's mind. He returns to London, but he sees Beast Folk in the faces of its human citizens.
- So, he moves to the downland (southern English countryside). There he lives in relative comfort away from the bustling throngs of London's busy streets. He reads books and performs chemistry experiments, and studies astrology when the night sky is clear.
- "There is—though I do not know there is or why there is—a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope, or I could not live." (22.7)
- Here, his story ends.