The Island of Dr. Moreau Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


The Island of Dr.moreau : Biography

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Herbert George Wells was born in 1866 in Bromley, England, the son of shopkeepers whose marginal business success kept the family from achieving financial security. Wells had little formal education and, beginning at age 14, ran through a quick succession of apprentice-like jobs, none of which led to a career. Despite these disadvantages, Wells was a voracious reader and autodidact. At the age of 18 he won a scholarship to study biology at what is now called the Royal College of Science in London. There, one of his teachers was T. H. Huxley, the scientist largely responsible for promoting Charles Darwin’s ideas to the public and the greater scientific community and a talented biologist and zoologist in his own right.
Wells completed his studies in 1888 and embarked on a career teaching science, but ill health and uncertain finances marked his early career. In spite of these distractions and marital difficulties (his first marriage ended after just a few years when he fell in love with a former student), Wells launched his writing career with a biology textbook in 1893. He followed this success with a novel, The Time Machine (1895), the first in a series of what today are deemed science fiction novels, including The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), and The First Men in the Moon (1901). Prolific and inventive, Wells also wrote short fiction, comic novels, and nonfiction, to acclaim and financial success.
Through his use of these genres, Wells expressed his deep concern for the individual’s place in society, Western society in particular. Wells developed something of a reputation as a futurist, and in his predictions he was pulled in two directions: His understanding of evolutionary biology gave him cause to hope that humans could evolve into higher forms, on the one hand. On the other, he saw with a realist’s eyes the disappointments of the nineteenth century to make good on its optimistic promises of social improvement as well as the growing aggression that characterized Europe in the early twentieth century and resulted in two world wars, both of which Wells witnessed before his death in 1946. His comic fictional works often featured characters of depressed classes and financially precarious lives, like that from which he came, and gave these unlikely protagonists sympathetic voices. However, as Wells grew older, his writings took on a sharper satirical tone as he worried that modern developments in technology and modern declines in the ethical behavior of nations would lead to catastrophe for humanity. 
Nevertheless, Wells argued that better education for people of the lower-middle and lower classes, who at this time generally received only rudimentary schooling, could prevent catastrophe. With several colleagues, he undertook a project to provide this education through accessible nonfiction works such as The Outline of History (1920), The Science of Life (1931), and The Work, Wealth, and Happiness of Mankind (1932). His impulse was generally socialist and humanitarian, yet he distrusted his hopes for humanity, especially toward the end of his life, when his own illness and approaching mortality began to affect his views. His final work, Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945), was written out of his despair over World War II and suggests that humanity in its present form is “played out” and that a new dark age will fall over the earth. In the end, the work suggests, perhaps it would be for the best for humanity to be succeeded by another dominant species, an idea hinted at, much earlier, in The Island of Doctor Moreau.


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