Study Guide

The Island of Dr. Moreau Chapter 14

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Chapter 14

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.

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