Articles/Essays From Pagans
December 1st. 2013 ...
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
The Celtic Tree Calendar
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
September 8th. 2013 ...
Introduction to the Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage
The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre
The Holocaust Survivor (Part 1)
Giving and Helping
September 1st. 2013 ...
Use a Flyswatter for a Fly: More on the Dark Arts
How Spells Work
Is It Really 'Energy'?
August 25th. 2013 ...
Mother Nature’s Way: Forging a Distinctly American Path
Healing Moon Ritual
Unconditional Love: The Paradox of Perfect Love
Earth to Soul/Sole
August 18th. 2013 ...
How Not to Fall in the Bunny Trap
Why Are You Like That? Thoughts on Hoodoo and Appropriation
Finding the Right Coven
The Knowledge Found in Silence
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances, Hazelnuts and Magick Wands
August 11th. 2013 ...
“I Survived a Weekend with Galina Krasskova”
The Charges of the Goddess and God with Commentary
August 4th. 2013 ...
Fair Weather Witches
Pagan Studies II: Modern Paganism in the Americas
Pagan Abbeys - A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities
July 28th. 2013 ...
Crystals 101: A Helpful Guide For Beginners
The More the Merrier? It’s not Only an Inaccuracy; it’s an All Out Farce!
My Pagan Manifesto
July 21st. 2013 ...
I'm a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations
Rethinking Community for Solitaries
13 Keys: The Beauty of Tiphareth
July 14th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés We Use (Part II)
Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion
Moon/Planetary Musings: The Holly King and John Barleycorn
July 7th. 2013 ...
Coping With Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins
Shamanic Healing of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Humility and Community Service
H is for Hubris
June 30th. 2013 ...
How To Feel The Energy Around You
Planning A Ritual
Why Pagans Might Benefit from Counseling Techniques
The Weight of Contemplation: When the Silent Self Grows Louder
June 23rd. 2013 ...
Magick and Play
Tarot Spell for Protection
Moon Musings and Planetary Preponderances: RE-fuse, RE-duce, RE-use, RE-pair and RE-cycle
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
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: 970
Times Read: 2,121
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Author: James Bulls
Posted: April 10th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,121
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
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