"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 about thirty.
- 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.
- Shout-Out: Montgomery studied on Gower Street in London, which is the street that Darwin lived on.
- 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.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Moreau has hints of this.