Articles/Essays From Pagans
January 10th. 2017 ...
The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
October 10th. 2016 ...
Witchcraft from the Outside
September 11th. 2016 ...
How Did I Get Here? (My Pagan Journey)
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
September 3rd. 2016 ...
Rethinking Heaven: What Happens When We Die?
What is Happening in My Psychic Reading?
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
The Fear of Witchcraft
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
Magic in Sentences
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
The Evolution of Thought Forms
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Question of Dr. Moreau
Article ID: 14357
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,113
Times Read: 2,693
RSS Views: 12,438
Author: James Bulls
Posted: April 10th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,693
I recently bought a copy of H.G. Wells’ classic “The Island of Dr. Moreau“. When I purchased the book, I thought it would be a fun trip in the way-back machine to the horror of yester-year, but the novel turned out to be both much better and much more than I expected. I anticipated Wells’ use of the novel to compare and contrast “human” and “animal” nature and also explore the relation of God to morality, but what I discovered is that the questions he presents through his writing are multi-faceted and defy a simple dichotomy of “human and animal” or “god and man.”
For those unfamiliar with the story, his novel tells the history of an English scholar and medical student, Edward Prendick, who is lost by tragedy at sea and then picked up by a merchant vessel sailing to an unnamed and uncharted island. Mr. Prendick is deposited on this island in the company of a shamed biologist Mr. Montgomery with the cargo of the ship: a gaggle of dogs, several crates of rabbits, miscellaneous cargo, and a caged puma.
Mr. Prendick discovers shortly that not everything on the island is as it seems and begins to doubt his hosts’ hospitality after accidentally witnessing Dr. Moreau vivisecting and physically rebuilding the previously caged puma into a form resembling a man. In horror, Mr. Prendick flees his hosts and runs into the island jungle where he finds himself in a primitive village.
This village is where all Dr. Moreau’s failed surgical reconstructions live and pass their days. These forsaken, cast-out creatures assume that Mr. Prendick is a new arrival and proceed to teach him the laws that support their society. In a pseudo-religious ritual, Mr. Prendick is made to sing in cadence the law as given to him by a particularly old and grotesque outcast named the Sayer of the Laws:
"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?"
Mr. Prendick remarks on this ritual:
"And so from the prohibition of these acts of folly, on to the prohibition of what I thought then were the maddest, most impossible, and most indecent things one could well imagine. A kind of rhythmic fervor fell on all of us; we gabbled and swayed faster and faster, repeating this amazing Law. Superficially the contagion of these brutes was upon me, but deep down within me the laughter and disgust struggled together. We ran through a long list of prohibitions, and then the chant swung round to a new formula: His is the House of Pain. His is the Hand that makes. His is the Hand that wounds. His is the Hand that heals. His is the lightning flash. His is the deep, salt sea. His are the stars in the sky."
After the ritual is completed, the Sayer of the Law gives Mr. Prendick a measure of explanation for the law as well as motivation to remember and follow the it:
“For every one The Want is bad, ” said the grey Sayer of the Law. “Some want to go tearing with teeth and hands into the roots of things, snuffing into the earth. It is bad. Some go clawing trees; some go scratching at the graves of the dead; some go fighting with foreheads or feet or claws; some bite suddenly, none giving occasion; some love uncleanness. Punishment is sharp and sure. Therefore learn the Law."
An outcast steps forward at this moment to tell a short story about how he refused to speak words and would only use animal sounds but was punished with a burning brand, at which others concur that “The Law” must be followed. Looking at this sequence in context to the obvious God-Mortal relationship established between Dr. Moreau and the pitiful inhabitants of his island, there are a number of intriguing questions, observations, and propositions that can be made:
The first is the nature of the outcast village. Here are these “manimals” living by a law that forbids and forcibly punishes their essential nature. Through no fault of their own, what were once natural animals living a presumably happy life, are now forced into an aberrant state and compelled to live by an unnatural law. From whence does this law come? Just because a law is given, is it just? Just because others follow the law, does that mean it is moral? Just because the law is supposed to be divine, does that make it righteous?
Human and animal natures are compared explicitly and implicitly several times, which leads the reader to ask, “Just what is human nature? Are we the same as animals? Better, worse, or just different?” Some groups – such as Anton Szandor LaVey's Church of Satan have already provided an answer to that question.
Dr. Moreau laments at great length that the bestial nature of his creations always returns and consumes the imprinted human mark. When the bestial qualities of the original animal begin to show through the sham human frame, Dr. Moreau casts the animal out of his compound and into the jungle to live with the other failed attempts; the comparison to Adam's and Eve's expulsion from the biblical “Garden of Eden” should be obvious.
In the Gnostic view of the Bible, Satan is interpreted as a force that exists from before creation. Satan brings enlightenment to Adam and Eve, thus freeing them from Yahweh’s jealous grip and forced state of ignorance. In this sense, Dr. Moreau casts his creations out into the jungle, away from his presence, because their bestial nature (akin to the forbidden fruit of legend) naturally compels them to disobey by failing to conform to his “human” standards.
Finally, the glaringly obvious comparison of Dr. Moreau to Yahweh leads one to ask if the God of Abraham is in fact a just and moral deity. If, as many claim, the Bible is the inerrant word of Yahweh, then one may presume to think that he is not a just and moral deity. Yahweh is described many times as a jealous, vain, vindictive spirit who kills entire nations to punish one person. He kills those who sin but blesses those who commit the same in his name – if you don't believe me, consider the story of the witch of Endor and her service to King Saul. Hypocrisy isn’t a divine virtue I would attribute to a supreme creator, but Yahweh flips (Matt. 26:52) and flops (Luke 22:36) to suit his needs.
Mr. Prendick does eventually return to his home in the United Kingdom, but returns a different man who sees the violence of animals in every person and the kindness of humans in every animal – and vice versa. The yelling crowds seem too much like the unsettled herd, and the only solace he finds is in nature and the contemplation of the natural, undisturbed order of things. Who or what is the God of Abraham to Mr. Prendick at the end of the novel? The question isn't precisely answered, but the reader is encouraged to imagine that the infinite, omnipotent, omniscient creative force does not suffer human frailties.
Like Wells’ novel, this article isn’t about proving a point but asking a question. After reading his novel, I have many questions and am forced to examine my own position on a number of issues. As a Reiki practitioner, I believe that there is a higher order than that which is known or perceived and that the world is innately good; however, after reading “Moreau, ” I ask myself the logical question: if the world is by default righteous, then why do wicked people choose behave so bestially?
Until the day when I transition and learn what lays across the veil, I have no conclusive knowledge if my beliefs in righteous choices and the purity of the spirit of life count for anything, but I can choose. Unlike the animals cruelly removed from their natural state and forced into an artificial mold of conformity, I can choose what I will do and how I will live. For now, I choose to be myself – nothing more, nothing less.
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Author's Profile: To learn more about James Bulls - Click HERE
Other Articles: James Bulls has posted 7 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email James Bulls... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2017 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).