In most people's minds, there seems to be a divide between mankind and the natural world. The natural world is the stuff we put in state parks and pay five dollars to park near when we want to see some trees. Mankind, well, that's everything else. The Island of Dr. Moreau tries to break down that divide by showing us that mankind and the natural world are one and the same. More to the point, mankind is part of the natural world. We can't escape it no matter how big we build our cities or how many flush toilets we add to our state parks. Like the Beast Folk, we came from nature, we live in nature, and to nature we shall return.
Questions About Man & the Natural World
Make two lists. On one side, put the characteristics the novel associates with humanity and on the other those it associates with nature. Are there any characters that only have characteristics from one side or the other? Why do you suppose this is? Which characters connect with both lists? What do you think the novel is trying to say with these characters?
How do you think Montgomery sees mankind in relation to the natural world? Are they one and the same? Distinct and separate? Something else? How can you tell?
How do we consider the separation of man and the natural world today? Based on the novel, would you say this view is accurate or inaccurate? What do you think about the theme of man and the natural world?
Chew on This
The divide between man and the natural world breaks down with the sinking of the Lady Vain. Yep, page one, and it's gone.
Montgomery's drinking is an attempt to keep the divide between mankind and the natural world. Unfortunately, the more he drinks, the less human he becomes.