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Comparing Nature Of Man In Island Of Dr. Moreau And Lord Of The Flies

4652 words - 19 pages

Nature of Man Exposed in Island of Dr. Moreau and Lord of the Flies  

   Throughout the natural history of mankind, the human race has always held a notion of its predominance over all other creations of nature. Man has long believed that he is somehow morally superior to all other creatures, motivated by a higher source than basic instincts. Yet, the history of man is marked by an interminable string of events that would seem to contradict that theory: war, genocide, segregation, suppression, tyranny, the list goes on and on. Only a cursory look at man’s history is required to come to the conclusion that man is at least as cruel and savage as the beasts they strive to surpass. H.G. Wells in The Island of Dr. Moreau and William Golding in Lord of the Flies each attack man’s artificial superiority extensively. Both men believed that the beast itself resided in man’s soul, surfacing occasionally to produce the evil that man is capable of. Yet, the men approached this concept in two distinct manners, leading to differences in a number of key aspects of the ir respective theories, differences that could weigh heavily on the future of the human race.

When H.G. Wells’ was asked what his motivation was for writing Moreau, he responded, "This story was but the response of an imaginative mind to the reminder that humanity is but animal rough-hewn to a reasonable shape and in perpetual conflict between instinct and injunction...It was written just to give the utmost possible vividness to that conception of man as hewn and confused and tormented beasts" (Batchelor 17). Inspired by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, Wells’ island tale of Dr. Moreau and his wild beasts carries a far deeper purpose than the simple survival story of Edward Prendick. The Island of Dr. Moreau contains within the adventure Wells’ own thoughts on evolution, and the implications that the theory holds for mankind. Darwin’s The Origin of Species immediately caused a stir upon its arrival without any help from Wells. "We have seen that one of the first and most lasting, most disturbing effects of Darwinian theory was to call into question t he whole heritage of theological certainty, the belief in the special creation of mankind and the historical centrality of the human race, which had supported humanistic thought for nearly three thousand years. Mankind no longer occupied center stage" (McConnell 93). Wells wholeheartedly embraced the idea that man was nothing more than a descendant of the beast, and not a special creation, but his thoughts reached an entirely different level. Because we are evolved form the beast, "but animal rough-hewn to a reasonable shape," we carry within ourselves the same basic natural instincts as the beast. Man is cruel and vicious, "a fever of matter accidentally gifted with self-consciousness and totally unprepared to transform that special curse into a special blessing" (McConnell 94). Dr. Moreau serves as the chief vehicle for Wells in...

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