The Island of Doctor Moreau

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The Island of Doctor Moreau
Written by: H. G. Wells
Central Theme:
Genre(s): Scientific romance
First published: 1896
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Source: Read The Island of Doctor Moreau here
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"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 Fish or Flesh; 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?"

The Law

An 1896 novel by H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau has since become one of the classics of sci-fi literature. Its story centers on Edward Prendick, the narrator, who is shipwrecked at sea and rescued by Dr. Montgomery. The good doctor takes Edward to the island where he works, a land so ominous that they quickly abandon him. Edward is soon introduced to the island's ruler, the mad Doctor Moreau, and discovers Moreau's society of surgically-altered beasts that walk, speak, and struggle to live like men. The more he's around these beastmen, the more uncomfortable he becomes in his own society.

It was adapted several times for the screen; Wikipedia has a list. The earliest was in 1913 as Ile d'Epouvante, and the earliest in English was in 1932 as Island of Lost Souls, starring Charles Laughton as the eponymous doctor. The most recent (as of 2017) was released in 1996, with Marlon Brando as Moreau.

Tropes used in The Island of Doctor Moreau include:
  • Adaptation Name Change: Edward Prendick has had a different name in each and every adaptation of the novel:
    • In Island of Lost Souls (1932) he is named "Edward Parker."
    • In The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) he is renamed "Andrew Braddock."
    • In The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) he is "Edward Douglas."
    • Similarly, the schooner captain, named Davis in the novel, is (slightly) renamed as "Davies" in Island of Lost Souls.
  • The Alcoholic: Montgomery.
  • Ax Crazy: Hyena-Swine.
  • Beast Man
  • Body Horror: In the original book, the creatures aren't mutated, simply mutilated: anesthetic-free surgery has forced them into humanoid forms. (Interestingly, while the original story portrays the creatures as abominations that should not exist, updated versions that use genetic engineering tend to paint them as innocent victims of scientific cruelty.)
    • Prendick from the book does eventually come to pity the creatures, he's just so Squicked out on first meeting them that it takes him a while to empathize.
  • Catgirl: Doesn't technically exist in the novel (Moreau is working on transitioning a female puma into this, but it escapes and kills him) but the films each had one -- Lota in the 1932 version, Maria in the '77 version, and Aissa in the '96 one.
  • The Commandments: The Law.
  • Cute Mute: The sloth creature.
  • Deserted Island: The titular Island.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Not in the novel, only the 1932 film. Lota dies in Edward's arms.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Moreau initially experimented on a gorilla to produce his first Beast Man. Later on, Prendick meets an Ape Man.
  • Evil Redhead: Wells repeatedly mentions the fact that Captain Davis, the drunken, abusive schooner captain, has red hair. Admittedly Davis isn't so much "evil" as he is just a bully, but the repeated mentions of his hair color brings him close to this trope.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Moreau seeks to improve animals by making them more and more human, hoping to eventually make one fully human.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Prendick.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The novel's ape-man is exceedingly proud that he averts this trope, unlike most of the other beastfolk.
  • A God Am I: Moreau never outright says it, but the Beastmen certainly view him this way.
    • Played straight in Island of Lost Souls: "Mr. Parker, do you know what it's like to feel like God?"
  • Humanity Ensues: Subverted with the Beast Men; although they are transformed into anthropomorphic forms they gradually regress back into animalistic forms, despite Moreau's best efforts.
  • Mad Scientist: Moreau.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Only in the movies.
  • Motor Mouth: The Ape Man.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Subverted in the opening chapter, when Prendick's fellow castaways fight over who's to be eaten and they both fall out of the lifeboat to drown.
  • Pig Man
  • Robinsonade
  • Shock Collar: In the 1996 film, all Moreau's creations have an implant that induces pain by remote control.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Montgomery in Island of Lost Souls.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Prendick.
  • Uplifted Animal: one of the earliest uses, In the most horrible way possible.
  • Veganopia: Forbidding the consumption of meat is one of the ways Moreau keeps his creations' more predatory instincts suppressed. It doesn't work.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Moreau has hints of this.