"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?"
The Island of Doctor Moreau
"Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"
— The Law
is an 1896 novel by H. G. Wells
. 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 horrifying society of surgically-altered beasts that walk, speak, and struggle to live like men. The more he's around these beast-men
, the more uncomfortable he becomes in his own society.It was adapted several times for the screen
; the earliest was in 1932 as Island of Lost Souls
, starring Charles Laughton as the eponymous doctor. The most recent was released in 1996 (a full century after the book), with Marlon Brando
This work features examples of:
- The Alcoholic: Montgomery.
- Animorphism: Although the beast people are transformed into anthropomorphic forms, they gradually regress back into animalistic forms, despite Moreau's best efforts.
- Ax-Crazy: Hyena-Swine.
- Beast Man
- Bio Punk: A prototype of the genre, even though it pre-dated the discovery of DNA by 60 years and the idea of genetic engineering by almost a century.
- Body Horror: In the original book, the creatures aren't mutated, simply mutilated and operated on; anesthetic-free surgery has forced and moulded them into humanoid forms.
- Cute Mute: The sloth creature.
- The Commandments: The Law.
- Deserted Island: The eponymous Island.
- 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 colour brings him close to this trope.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Moreau first experimented on a gorilla to produce his first Beast Man. Later on, Prendick meets an Ape Man.
- Evilutionary Biologist: Averted; Moreau is more concerned with perfecting his surgical techniques than their products. He even remarks that he could just as well have turned sheep into llamas as animals into humans; the latter was simply more artistically-satisfying to him.
- First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Prendick narrates the story.
- Four-Fingered Hands: The 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.
- Island Of Mystery: The eponymous Island, indeed.
- Lost at Sea
- Mad Scientist: Moreau.
- Mad Doctor: He's doing all this as a way of practising surgical techniques, or so he claims.
- Mercy Kill: Prendick shoots the Leopard-Man to save him from further operation.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Of course, both Moreau and Montgomery have actual PhDs.
- Motor Mouth: The Ape Man.
- Mutual Kill: Between Moreau and the puma.
- 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.
- Ocean Madness: Prendick suffers from this early on, or at least he thinks he does.
- Pig Man
- Rich Boredom: Prendick's backstory.
- Science Marches On: Wells states that the changes to the animals are the result of various surgical techniques. Later adaptations of the same story state that genetic engineering is responsible for altering the animals.
- Shout-Out: Montgomery studied on Gower Street in London, which is the street that Darwin lived on.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Moreau has hints of this.
- Unbuilt Trope: The novel has a pretty pessimistic view of how uplifting animals would turn out despite being the Trope Maker and Trope Codifier.
- 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.