Keeping the Human in Humanity or Redefining it? A look at Moreau’s Project

by Sandy Burnley

Queens College


In H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau Moreau claims his aim is to raise the beasts to human creatures. In this essay, however, one will discover his true purpose is to keep the beasts low and deny any human qualities inherent to the animals on which he operates. Moreau prohibits the nonhuman animals from feeling traditionally anthropocentric emotions and exemplifying symbolic attributes, such as an omnivorous diet, the right to self-defense, feelings of shame, and autonomy, in order to create a human/animal divide. In doing so, Moreau will inadvertently diminish the divide by unwinding our human constructions and revealing just how encompassing humanity can be.

  Bodies, human and nonhuman, are taken apart and put together in processes that make self-certainty and either humanist or organicist  ideology bad guides to ethics and politics.[1]

In H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), mad-scientist Dr. Moreau captures various non-human animals and brings them to his island to be vivisected. He vehemently asserts that his goal is to make a rational creature, claiming “each time I dip a living creature into the bath of burning pain, I say; this time I will burn out all the animal, this time I will make a rational creature of my own.”[2] The problem with this claim is that Moreau neither delineates “animal” characteristics from “rational” characteristics, nor does he explicitly state that it is a human he wants to create. Therefore, this ambiguous statement clears a path for us to examine the boundary between animal and human. In this paper I argue that Moreau, despite his ostensible declaration to create a human species, one that is evidently moral, civilized, rational, and most importantly cleansed of all impurities, Moreau never intends to instill such characteristics in these nonhuman animals. Rather, he intends to efface such qualities which more often than not appear to be inherent. In doing so, Moreau inadvertently acknowledges the humanity in nonhuman animals, demonstrates the inseparable animality within civilization, and thereby allows the reader to slowly deconstruct the human/animal divide. Ultimately, Wells leaves us with an obligation and a responsibility, as human readers, not only to recognize subjectivity within the nonhuman animal, but also to learn how to translate it through a less anthropocentric language.

Wells’s narrative begins with the sea, gently easing us in to the many permeable barriers he will transgress throughout the novella. Our narrator and main character, Prendick, is lost at sea when his ship coming from Callao collides with a derelict. Aboard a small lifeboat, Prendick and his fellow survivors begin to speak with their eyes, darting glances at each other which suggest the threat of cannibalism. After a short grapple, however, Prendick’s desire is curbed when his two companions fall overboard into shark-infested water and enter a more traditional food chain. The irony of this first human depiction signals the text’s broader critique of the human. While impurities alarm characters in Wells’s text, Wells has yet to portray, let alone define, a purebred human. Body language, hunger, and instinct seem to be the driving force among our humans who have been away from civilization for only eight days, suggesting humanity’s traits are not inborn but cultivated within a very particular habitat. Away from an urban and law-abiding setting, humanity becomes as obscure as the water in which it harbors. Just as our three survivors revealed the violence of which they were capable, we witness little more than the untrusting, fearful, and uncivilized manner with which characters in this text treat each other. We soon discover this demeanor develops from a fear of impurity within races and species alike. Yet, what this attitude really demonstrates is the anthropophaginian inherent to us all.

Wells’s depiction of humanity becomes even more entangled when a ship, coming from an unknown land, rescues Prendick. His first conscious sight demonstrates “a big round countenance, covered with freckles and surrounded with red hair, staring at [him] over the bulwarks.”[3] What’s interesting about this initial encounter is the ambiguity of species. Rather than introduce such appellations as “man” or “human” there is instead a countenance surrounded with hair, suggesting this encounter could easily involve interspecies. We only find this visage is human by its title, Captain Davis, and by the consistent demeanor to which we have become accustomed, as he stares at Prendick from behind a barrier, keeping a distrustful distance. Therefore, humans are defined neither by civility nor by appearance in this novella. More importantly, Prendick then sees “a disconnected impression of a dark face with extraordinary eyes close to [his], but that [he] thought was a nightmare until [he] met it again.”[4] We may interpret this depiction in two ways; first, if we use “close” to determine the position of this man’s eyes to Prendick’s, we witness a character quite contrary to that of the captain’s–curious, trustful, and amiable. Second, if we interpret “close” as a synonym for similarity we notice a more convincing connection between this man, whom we later find is part bear, dog, and ox, and Prendick, suggesting an instant recognition of oneself in the other. Therefore, as much as Prendick may try to distance himself from this image he believes is a nightmare, he cannot avoid the feeling of the uncanny.

According to Freud, the German word heimlich, when applied to animals, means “tame, companionable to man. As opposed to wild.”[5] Therefore, the uncanny (unheimliche) “is in reality nothing new or alien, but something which is familiar and old-established in the mind and which has become alienated from it only through the process of repression.”[6] It is this process of repression which has given rise to the human/animal divide. Our evolution has founded such feelings as abjection, removing us from the animal not quite through physiological or habitual means, but through the denial and repression of such instincts. Prendick stares into the eyes of M’ling and experiences abjection. As Kari Weil observes, quoting Julia Kristeva, abjection arises only when “‘an Other has settled in place and stead of what will be me.’ This Other is often conceived of as animal or as body–that which has yet to be civilized or cultured–but is really a facet of the self that I do not recognize or do not yet know.”[7] Prendick has recognized himself in another species, yet this similarity unnerves him to the point where he believes this similarity to be a nightmare. Interestingly enough, he has yet to learn whether this creature is cultured or civilized, but judges by a well-engraved construction of clothing and appearance. Therefore, it is not surprising that when Prendick’s clothes wear to rags, he too becomes a Beast man, with tanned skin, long matted hair, and a strange brightness in his eyes. If something as mutable as clothing can make a man animal or an animal man, Moreau must create a more apparent distinction to overshadow this close relationship, and form a fissure between the human and the animal. If this were not his goal, appellations in this text would not be so apparent and vital, although they would be no less constructed.

Our natural born human, known as Captain Davis, is given a rather illustrious and definitive title. It demonstrates status, command, and tradition. M’ling’s name, however, is both intentionally foreign in its origin and untraditional. What’s worse is his categorization; he is a Beast man with the word beast always capitalized and forefront while the word man follows as an unsubstantial guise. Therefore, when the Beast men ask “are we not Men?” the suggested answer is always no, they are not. It is through these two characters’ titles where the human/animal divide is meant to be most apparent.   According to Donna Haraway in “A Cyborg Manifesto,” many formations have led to establishing the illusory human/animal divide, and naming is not an exception.[8] Therefore, Captain Davis, with his representational, hierarchal, male dominating title is indubitably human, since Haraway claims that ideologically the human is representation while the cyborg is simulation. M’ling is then a consequential simulation, shaped into the image of oneself from the reflections of the other, which is why Prendick sees himself within. For a brief moment, Prendick recognizes his kin and humanity transforms from a genomic tree to what Haraway elsewhere characterizes as “a trellis or an esplanade.”[9] M’ling follows Prendick through the “companion hatchway,” amusingly resonating with Haraway’s The Companion Species Manifesto, and appears to be both human/kin and reflection/simulation. Yet the purpose of this paper is to prove that Moreau’s aim is to impede this transformation and stunt the animals’ humanity. Therefore, M’ling must be forcefully expelled from humanity before his acceptance becomes anything more than a nightmare. As Weil explains, “abjection unsettles the boundaries between me and not-me or between me and my group or kin and forces me to separate myself from it, sometimes violently, in order to affirm who I am.”[10] Therefore, before M’ling can blur the boundaries between representation and simulation, and before the reader can credibly witness his humanity, he is thrown into a pack of vicious dogs who ironically want nothing more than to tear at him. M’ling was made not to be inducted into but rather ejected from humanity.

It appears the human can only eject the animal from society, as it is a persistent struggle to withhold subjectivity from the animal. Therefore, the reader is not surprised to witness Captain Davis “deliver a tremendous blow between the shoulder blades with his fist.”[11] Afterwards, no one attempts to help M’ling and the hierarchy is reestablished; the trellis has dissipated and it is once again human subordinating animal. Carrie Rohman summarizes this dynamic through Derrida’s enlightening claim when she states,

Derrida traces a certain recalcitrant humanism in Western metaphysical

thought–[. . .]–which ‘continues to link subjectivity with man’ and

withhold it from the animal. In broad theoretical terms, Derrida

characterizes the sacrificial structure of Western subjectivity as one that

maintains the status of the ‘human’ by a violent abjection, destruction, and

disavowal of the ‘animal.’ In other words, the sanctity of humanity

depends upon our difference from animals, our repression of animality,

and the material reinstation of the exclusion through various practices such

as meat-eating, hunting, and medical experimentation.[12]

Therefore, animals must be excluded from humanity, however unnaturally, to be animal. If the sanctity of humanity depends upon our difference, a difference must be created. This is highlighted in the diet of the novel’s natural born humans. Lying on the floor, in front of a team of vicious dogs, we find “scraps of carrot [and] shreds of green stuff,” but not a scrap of meat to be found.[13] Likewise, we might assume the two dozen rabbits released on the island would be for the diet of the captured animals, but we then find that these beings are not allowed to eat meat; rather, they are forced vegetarians: “Not to eat Flesh nor Fish; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”[14] Interestingly enough, not to eat flesh nor fish is not a law for men, since Prendick, Moreau, and Montgomery all eat the rabbits. Rather, these laws are arbitrary, subject to change depending on who performs the action, and therefore another method for Moreau to differentiate himself. Moreau’s intention is not only to create a divide, but to purge the animal from the human, to erase any reflection or similarity one might find under close examination. Unjustifiably, when an animal does taste flesh, it does not become human.   As Sherryl Vint explains,

it is the preparation of meat for human consumption that seems to push the beast men towards reversion, demonstrating once again that the category  of ‘human’ is something that is performed, and that certain   behaviors are classified differently–as civilized or savage–based solely on the status of the one performing them.[15]

If the Beast men taste flesh they are beast; if the humans taste flesh they are human. Wells further marks this distinction when he illustrates the animals’ carnivorous diet as something grotesque, bloody, and predatory, painted with scarlet red blood and decapitation. Simultaneously, we receive a dearth of imagery surrounding the preparation of a human meal which nonetheless consists of the same ritual. Therefore, the division between these nonhuman and human characters is tenuous if not illusory. Despite Moreau’s ostensible declaration, these beings are forced to remain ignorant of what it means to be human; they “sit in the darkness and say the Law.”[16] They eat the roots because they are told to do so—“eat roots and herbs–it is His will”—and ignore their baser instincts and protruding canines.[17] True, they may not be allowed to go on all fours but it is here where their resemblance to humanity ends, and is intended to end.

We have witnessed the blatant abjection of the animal in both appearance and diet, yet what happens when an animals feels what is thought to be a human emotion. Is it enough to instate them into humanity? According to Freud, in harmony with our upright stature came a revulsion to smells associated with the ground, such as defecation. Therefore, a lack of aversion to smells became associated with a lack of shame; “according to Lacan and Hegel, it [the capacity to feel shame] is what separates humans and animals.”[18] One might then assume that as these animal stand upright and move away from such denigrating scents they are now welcomed to feel shame and are inaugurated into humanity. Yet, we are surprised to find Moreau rebuking a human/gorilla after he is shamed by the Kanakas and caught defending himself. More alarming than this reproach, however, is Moreau’s hypocritical philosophy stated shortly after– “animals without a spark of pugnacious energy to face torment [. . .] are no good for man-making.”[19] Pugnacity and shame are man-making qualities denied to this supposed man. We may therefore conclude that this animal is excluded not only from a human diet, but also from human emotion; two entities that appear to come naturally and are prohibited. The gorilla man may not experience the same abjection Prendick felt earlier in the text, nor the same feeling of shame Moreau bore when he was exiled from London. He is, therefore, denied the image of the human we have met thus far, nor can he partake in any sort of war or survival instinct–“not to chase other Men; that is the Law.”[20] These nonhuman men cannot be human because Moreau has fantasized a new humanity for them; he redefines the conscience and models morality after his own idea: “very much indeed of what we call moral education is such an artificial modification and perversion of instinct.”[21] His new moral code, an abjection of himself and the broad categorization of humanity, arises to inhibit the human within the animal. His worst fear is that the animals understand this, form an identity, recognize their agency, and perhaps perceive how human they truly are. Therefore, he creates pathetic demarcations and erroneous laws which prove humanity to be a performance. His greatest crime however, is the manipulation of humanity, as it is no longer performance that defines humanity, but the individual performing.

As Donna Haraway introduces Simians, Cyborgs, and Women as a cautionary tale about the evolution of bodies, politics, and stories, Wells’s text should be read much the same way. It is an evolution gone terribly wrong, and one which we’ve already witnessed. As Haraway states, “what makes a woman is a specific relation of appropriation by a man.”[22]   Likewise, what makes an animal is a specific appropriation by a human. Moreau’s abjection from his own sufferings, whether traditional to human or animal, makes the animal. Therefore morality, pain, weakness, shame, and pride all become potential threats to humanity. Those who deny Moreau’s perspective and fabricated laws on such topics then become victim to animality. For instance, once Prendick becomes sickened by Moreau’s experiments he becomes “an animal, thinking a little less obscurely what an animal feels.”[23] As Weil aptly explains, Moreau’s

philosophy offers us ideas with which we may separate ourselves  from others and even protect ourselves from (or abject) their suffering, and at the same time it allow[s] humans to define  themselves as intellectual or reasonable beings rather than as  suffering and feeling ones.[24]

Yet, in order to achieve this possibility it seems there must be a rift in our character. Are we rational or feeling beings, human or animal? As Philip Armstrong discusses in What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity, Renaissance thinkers envisioned the human as a superior, rational being who rightly gained dominion over the passionate beasts. The folly of persisting in this paradigm is illustrated through Armstrong’s analysis of Jonathan Swift’s Houyhnhnyms in Gullivers Travels. These rational horses distanced themselves from passion, and thereby created a fissure between nature and culture, illustrating a disturbing perspective for the reader; one which brings to mind Vanessa Lemm’s theory of culture and civilization, in which she states while “culture is the memory of animality and holding onto the human being’s continuity with the animals, civilization coincides with the forgetting of animality, the silencing of the animal within the human.”[25] In essence, Moreau inadvertently creates human perversions equal to the Houyhnhnyms by violently repressing our origin and creating an ideal of humanity which is neither healthy nor frequently perceived. Wells assures us of Moreau’s gross error when he portrays London as a place of civilization and culture, solidified in its origin and inhabited by humans. Therefore, it is no wonder when Prendick returns to London 

[He] could not persuade [himself] that the men and women [he] met were not also another, still passably human, Beast People, animals half-wrought into the outward image of human souls; and that they would presently begin to revert, to show first this bestial mark and then that.[26]


Prendick cannot dissociate animality with humanity; they are inherently intertwined within this metropolis. Moreau’s vision of humanity, however, is deluded and fractured in this sense. Like Rene Descartes before him, whose paradigm “for the remaking of the human via manipulation of the animal” was myopic if not erroneous, Moreau believes humans to be the “lords and possessors of nature.”[27] Moreau’s paradigm is more offensive, however, as he subconsciously acknowledges the human in the animal and seeks to destroy it. It is not enough to demarcate animals with rags, diet, or reprobation to distance them from humanity. Moreau must attack more powerfully symbolic agents of the human within the animal. He must suppress their voice.

The most potent example of the suppression of animal voices occurs earlier in the novel, when a puma is physically cramped in a cage. It isn’t the tight enclosure, however, which we find most alarming, but her inability to vocally express her discomfort. Despite Moreau’s claims to have made wonderful progression with the larynx, and despite the fact that all the Beast men can talk, whether one portrays it as nonsense or not, the puma is never permitted to call for help. She can cry, she can moan, her voice may be filled with agony, but she may never articulate that agony, and so Prendick may walk “in a direction diametrically opposite to the sound.”[28] She may never call on humanity to help her, and so her voice is ignored, locked behind a wall and imprisoned. In this instance, Prendick does not consider the puma a part of his kin. As Armstrong mentions, in Swift’s novel, Gulliver doesn’t consider himself a Yahoo until a Yahoo sexually advances upon him, thereby acknowledging him as one of her own species. Likewise, Prendick does not accept the puma as one of his own until he is treated as her species is treated. Let us note, the puma does not have to change appearance, demeanor, habitat, etc., to be inducted into humanity; she simply must be treated as an equal. Therefore, when Prendick becomes prey himself, he accepts her as one of his own, and seeks to aid her rescue. In her voice “came the pitiful moaning of the puma, the sound that had originally driven me out to explore this mysterious island. At that, though I was faintly and horribly fatigued, I gathered together all my strength and began running again towards the light. It seemed to me a voice was calling me.”[29] In this brief passage, placed at the end of the chapter, Prendick has found what we in animal studies have been seeking: a way to hear the voice of the animal without objectification, a critical anthropomorphic language that transgresses the barrier of humans and animals.[30] But this new enlightenment is short lived. As Gayatri Spivak claims in “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, once the subaltern speaks it is no longer subaltern, and the puma is no exception. She adopts a Western language and in this case a more human language to cry out against the injustices. Before a comrade can come to her aid she meets her “persecutor with a shriek almost exactly like that of an angry virago.”[31] Here we are presented with another broken division, for the puma easily adopts the role of an angry human woman. As Susan McHugh acknowledges, this puma’s actions make her a female, a New World-native, and a possibly rational animal.[32] Yet, McHugh is bothered by the narrator’s indifference to this enlightenment. The puma’s actions are undercut by the question of whether she remains animal. Nonetheless, we are encouraged to believe she is a human, more importantly, a persecuted woman who kills her oppressor with the very chains which symbolized his rule. We are encouraged to believe this not only through her actions, but through another mitigated perspective in which the narrator remains silent. We have lost the opportunity to hear the puma’s story. As in the case of the ape who narrates Kafka’s “A Report to the Academy,” once the puma is brutally “humanized” it is no longer able to tell of its life as a puma, of the days spent cramped in the cage or hanging from the mizzen. She now speaks a language taught to her, a language of violence, murder, and persecution. She is no longer the subaltern. She is at once human and animal, resistant to any boundaries, as she bounds into the jungle, ripping off what little clothing (bandages) with which Moreau supplied her, never to be heard from again.

Voice is not the only expression of humanity ultimately refused to the Beast men. After all, it is not the only individualizing agent of a human. Dana Seitler’s examination of the Fu Manchu series, written by Sax Rohmer, depicts the symbolic potency of a human hand. In the Fu Manchu series, master criminal Mr. King’s entire identity is represented through his hands. While he is a fictitious villain of Asian descent, there is very little detail granted to him other than his yellow claw. It encompasses his rule, his race, and his identity; “throughout Yellow Claw, in fact, the identity of ‘Mr. Kingis never revealed. Until the end, he remains a racialized, clawlike hand and a set of italics, never a whole body.”[33] Similarly, the Beast men’s mutilated hands become a synonymous symbol for the cruelties of Moreau’s rule. Prendick discovers “that a great proportion of the Beast people had malformed hands lacking sometimes even three digits.”[34] In a twisted representation of identity, the lack of a well-formed hand declares them to be victims of another, rather than indicating any identity of their own making. This malformation is not coincidental, as Moreau claims that “often there is trouble with the hands and claws−painful things that I dare not shape too freely.”[35] Moreau dares not shape hands too freely because to do so would indoctrinate the Beast men into a profound aspect of humanity. In Derridean terms, their misshapen hands withhold autonomy; “even where the word I is lacking…the power to make reference to the self in deictic or autodeictic terms, the capability of at least virtually turning a finger [emphasis mine] toward oneself in order to say ‘this is I,’” marks the difference between human and animal.[36] This is not to say the animal, outside of this text, does not possess an inherent subjectivity or that anyone is denying the animal the ability to feel itself or to relate to itself, but that Moreau is attempting to interfere with this relation. In not turning a finger upon oneself to say “I am speaking of me” or “this is who I am” the animal is deprived or denied humanity. Only the Ape Man is allowed this opportunity; “He has five fingers; he is five-man like me [emphasis mine].”[37] In addressing himself, and relating another Man to himself, the Ape Man embodies “I” through his hands as well as through language, even though Prendick denies him the latter when he stops listening to his “jabbering the most arrant nonsense.”[38] Nor is it insignificant that the Ape’s hands were not shaped by humans, but naturally and genetically created the same. This then begs the question of which aspects of humanity can be taught and which seem to be perpetually and perhaps purposely lost in translation.

As for the rest of the Beast men, they are not permitted to partake in this symbolism (and here it is important to note that only for the Ape Man is Man capitalized and individualized). Rather their mutilated hands mark their befuddled identity–neither man nor beast. Their hands represent subjugation, brutality, submission, and inhumanity; as the Sayer of the Law explains to Prendick, “I did a little thing, a wrong thing once [. . .]. I am burnt, branded in the hand.”[39] The Sayer of the Law now bears this mark of his disobedience, and this mark therefore represents his servitude and stature. A deeper meaning, however, can be found in his right hand, for he throws up his right hand to reveal only a puff of dust–nothing, no meaning, no agency, no connection, just disconnected particles of diminutive stature.[40] One might be reminded of Tom Tyler’s text Ciferae, in which he speaks of ciphers as empty placeholders that appear insignificant, but eventually become secret codes for what must not be spoken directly.[41] In Tyler’s work, these ciphers are abused and misused animals, excluded from humanity, and of little worth in their own right. Compared to the perfection of the human hand, they are creatures apparently made to be subjugated, but upon closer examination, they oppose and efface the foundations of anthropocentrism. For instance, while the Sayer of Law reiterates the Law as it was taught to him, he speaks more insightfully through the branded silence of his hands. In Moreau’s right hand, however lies the scalpel; “His is the Hand that makes. His is the hand that wounds. His is the Hand that heals.”[42] His is the hand that holds the whip and therefore the power. Yet, Moreau is also animal, however impermeable he wishes to make his humanity, and therefore he too is a Beast man and must be branded as such. If this were not true Moreau would have never fallen as the Beast men do, and been punished for his crimes in much the same way. As Tyler explains, the ciphers

may run riot with uncontrollable meanings: ‘This wild side endures in even the most domesticated beasts, and we will find that whenever we meet a cipher, there is every chance that all the careful work undertaken  for their master has already begun to come undone. These animals are not content to remain mere ciphers and demand to be treated otherwise.’[43]

It is, therefore, not surprising, when we find Moreau dead in the fields with “one hand almost severed at the wrist” for it is an appropriate reprobation for his own human crimes.[44]

By the conclusion of the novel we become convinced, perhaps even slightly unnerved, by the idea that the human is built upon a multitude of constructions, an ideal which encompasses few individuals. Yet, the novel’s conclusion presents a disturbing scenario which suggests the human/animal divide to remain stagnant and unprogressive, perhaps unreadable. Wells repeatedly has his narrator use the term “hail.” It is a term used to bring into subjectivity and invite another into an equivalent relationship. Not surprisingly, while under Moreau’s rule these nonhuman animals are never hailed to subjectivity. Rather they are the ones who hail–“‘Hail’ said they, ‘to the Other with the Whip!’”[45] More disturbingly, when Moreau dies, they are finally hailed; “[Montgomery] hailed them, and they fled guiltily.”[46] We are, for a few moments, led to believe that the animals have regained their subjectivity, perhaps reached a more “human” status in their freedom and self-possession when they desert the ravines, but then what of their response–the fleeing guiltily? Is Prendick anthropomorphizing? Have these animals truly becomes indoctrinated into humanity, not just by feeling emotion, but feeling an emotion that, as mentioned earlier, arises from abjection? More alarmingly, if these animal are shamed and guilty of their own subjectivity they are on a dangerous road leading to the same reinstated constructions, and more importantly, abjections, which excluded them from humanity from the start, thereby partaking in a vicious cycle of exclusion rather than progression. Nevertheless, as these are only postulations, this is the question with which every animal studies scholar grapples; how are we to hail the animal, how is the animal’s subjectivity to become recognized and understood by those whose language is untranslatable? Kari Weil postulates in her work Thinking Animals that “animals present us with a problem of alterity–the difficulty or near impossibility of seeing or, perhaps even more so, hearing, smelling, sensing from the place of the absolute other.”[47] While this seems to be an impossible hurdle over which we must jump, one can’t help but wonder if the former language was not subjective–the fled guiltily–perhaps if it was not through our language of projected emotions in which the animals’ response is replicated, we might begin to learn another’s language. Perhaps in doing so, we will be better able to understand the puma bounding into the jungle with the rest of the Beast men.

As for the novel’s conclusion, we are left bemused in our idea of humanism. Who if anyone ever qualifies as human? Moreau and Montgomery are dead, the animals are given a disturbing privacy which inhibits us from gaining a progressive, passive, voyeuristic understanding of their subjectivity, and Prendick returns to London, where he becomes paranoid upon witnessing the population’s animalistic tendencies. More importantly, the same ship of which I spoke to introduce this essay has disappeared from the narrative. All that is left is a small boat carrying two dead men, one of whom has a shocking similarity to the captain of the missing ship. The reader is left only to believe the mutiny on this ship has created a perverse abortion of potential humans beings, suggesting that not one member of this ship fits into the categorization of human, whether genetically and naturally born or corruptly created. The defining qualities and very constitution of humanity remain lost at sea.


Work Cited

Armstrong, Philip. What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity. New York: Routledge,  2008.

Derrida, Jacques. The Animal that Therefore I Am. Translated by David Wills. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008.

Freud, Sigmund. “The ‘Uncanny.’” in Norton Anthology of Theory   and Criticism, edited by Vincent B. Leitch, 824-841. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010.

Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. New York: Routledge, 1991.

—. The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003.

Julia Kristeva. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Translated by Leon S. Roudiez. New    York: Columbia University Press, 1982.

McHugh, Susan. “The Call of the Other 0.1%: Genetic Aesthetics and the New Moreaus.”   Leonardo’s Choice: Genetic Technologies and Animals. New York: Springer, 2009:      173-92.

Seitler, Dana. Atavistic Tendencies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

Vint, Sherryl. “Animals and Animality from the Island of Moreau to the Uplift Universe.” The Yearbook of English Studies 37, no. 2 (2007): 85-102.

Weil, Kari. Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now? New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.

Wells, H.G. The Island of Dr. Moreau, Edited by Steven Palme. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1996.

Wheeler, Wendy. “Of Birds and Hands.” Review of Ciferae: A Bestiary in Five Fingers, by Tom Tyler. New Formations: A journal of culture/theory/politics 78 (2013): 188-90.



[1] Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto. (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003), 8.

[2] H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau, ed. Steven Palme (New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1996), 84.

Nook Edition.

[3] Ibid., 13.

[4] Ibid., 13.

[5] Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny” in Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. ed. Vincent B. Leitch.

(New York: W.W. Norton, 2010), 826.

[6] Ibid., 833.

[7] Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, 10, as quoted in Kari Weil, Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now? (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 78.

[8] I formed this postulation after reading Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. (New York: Routledge, 1991), 161.

[9] See Donna Haraway’s The Companion Species Manifesto, (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003), 9, in which she states “the shape of my kin networks looks more like a trellis or an esplanade than a tree.”

[10] Kari Weil, Thinking Animals, 78.

[11] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau, 20.

[12] Carrie Rohman, “Burning out the Animal; the Failure of Enlightenment Purification in H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau,” Figuring Animals; Essays on Animal Images in Art, Literature, Philosophy, and Popular Culture, (2005): 121. Rohman obtains her information from “‘ Eating Well,’ or The Calculation of the Subject: Interview with Jacques Derrida,” by Jean-Luc Nancy, in Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, and Jean-Luc Nancy, eds., Who Comes After the Subject? (New York: Routledge, 1991), 105.

[13] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau,18.

[14] Ibid., 67

[15] Sherryl Vint, in “Animals and Animality from the Island of Moreau to the Uplift Universe,” The Yearbook

of English Studies, 37, no. 2 (2007): 94.

[16] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau, 67.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Kari Weil, Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now? (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012),


[19] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau, 81.

[20] Ibid., 67

[21] Ibid., 78

[22] Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, (New York: Routledge, 1991), 138.

[23] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau, 79.

[24] Weil, Thinking Animals, 79.

[25] Ibid., 93.

[26] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau, 135.

[27] As quoted in Philip Armstong, What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity, (New York: Routledge, 2008), 6-7.

[28] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau, 46.

[29] Ibid., 53.

[30] I use the term critical anthropomorphism from Kari Weil’s Thinking Animals where she states critical anthropomorphism is when we open ourselves to touch and allow ourselves the possibility of understanding emotions without having to experiencing them, in fact, knowing that we may never be able to experience them. More importantly, it is the acknowledgement that the irreducible difference that animals may represent for us is also one that is within us and within the term human.

[31] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau, 103.

[32] Susan McHugh, “The Call of the Other 0.1%: Genetic Aesthetics and the New Moreaus,” Leonardos Choice: Genetic Technologies and Animals, (New York: Springer, 2009), 179.

[33] Dana Seitler, Atavistic Tendencies, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 163.

[34] Ibid., 61-2

[35] Ibid., 84.

[36] Jacques Derrida, The Animal that Therefore I am, trans. David Wills (New York: Fordham University

Press, 2008),111.

[37] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau, 93.

[38] Ibid., 128.

[39] Ibid., 67.

[40] Ibid., 97.

[41] Wendy Wheeler, “Of Birds and Hands,” review of Ciferae: A Bestiary in Five Fingers, by Tom Tyler, New Formations: A journal of culture/theory/politics 78, (2013): 188.

[42] Wells, Island of Dr. Moreau, 66.

[43] Wheeler, “Of Birds and Hands,” 188-9.

[44] Ibid., 109.

[45] Ibid., 93.

[46] Ibid., 107.

[47] Weil, Thinking Animals, 50.


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