The Island of Dr.moreau: Summary:chapter 6-10
VI. The Evil-Looking Boatmen.
The islanders manning the launch appear to take pity on Prendick; they turn the launch and come to his rescue. He notes that the hands are “strange brutish-looking fellows” whom the hounds cannot abide. A white-haired, powerfully built man with the workers regards him with “some perplexity”; and Prendick feels an inexplicable “spasm of disgust” when he looks at this crew. They’re wrapped in “thin, white, dirty” cloth, even to their extremities, and they have “elfin faces” with “protruding lower-jaws.” They are quite tall, with oddly twisted limbs.
Prendick turns to examine the island, observing its heavy vegetation and volcanic vapors. He sees a stone enclosure and a lanky, tall man awaiting them. He thinks that he also sees “grotesque creatures scuttle” among the bushes. The launch docks, and the ungainly crew, with “distorted” movements, unlades the animals, speaking in a language that Prendick seems almost to understand. The white-haired man greets him and asks whether he is a man of science. Prendick explains that he “spent some years at the Royal College of Science, and had done some researches under Huxley.” This information “alters the case a little,” the white-haired man says. He explains that the island is “a biological station—of a sort” and that ships come to the island only every year or so. Then he abruptly leaves for the enclosure. When Montgomery approaches, Prendick thanks him for the second rescue. Perhaps, Montgomery says, but “You’ll find this island an infernally rum place . . . . I’d watch my goings carefully, if I were you.” Prendick helps Montgomery carry the rabbit hutches to the shore and release the creatures, which apparently are meant to stock the island for food. The white-haired man returns with brandy and biscuits for the famished Prendick, who eats but does not drink: “I have been an abstainer from birth.”
Wells includes nonfiction details throughout the novella to support the literary device: These are real recollections, left behind by an uncle and framed by the nephew’s explanation. The references to the Royal College of Science and to Thomas Henry Huxley, the scientist and lecturer who disseminated Charles Darwin’s writings, create an aura of nonfiction in what is clearly a fictional piece. This is a common practice in satire, which often weaves fact, fiction, and farce to deliver its critiques.
VII. “The Locked Door.”
The island and its inhabitants are so strange that Prendick can hardly take it all in. The white-haired man and Montgomery discuss how to handle their unexpected guests, and Prendick overhears the man say, “I’m itching to get to work again—with this new stuff.” “I daresay you are,” Montgomery replies in “anything but a cordial tone.” The white-haired man addresses Prendick, apologizing for a secret—a “Blue-Beard’s chamber,” but nothing “very dreadful, really, to a sane man.” For now, the secret must be kept. They pass a heavy, locked gate to enter the enclosure by a side door. The small room they enter will be Prendick’s; the inner door, he learns, must remain locked “for fear of accidents.” Prendick sees a shelf of medical books and hears Montgomery refer to the white-haired man as Dr. Moreau, a name that Prendick feels he knows. The dark man brings in coffee and boiled vegetables, and as he places the tray on the table, Prendick notices that his ears are furry and pointed.
Prendick suddenly recalls a phrase—“the Moreau Horrors”—from a pamphlet he read as a boy. The Moreau in question was “a prominent and masterful physiologist” working on blood transfusions and “morbid growths”; he fled England after an investigation following the escape of a mutilated dog from his lab. The pamphlet reported that Moreau’s experiments were “wantonly cruel.” Prendick now believes that he understands something of the island’s secret: Dr. Moreau is the Moreau of the pamphlet—a “notorious vivisector” who must have some connection to the “crippled and distorted men” Prendick has seen.
The practice of vivisection—the dissection of live animals—was coming under fire during Wells’s life. His narrator doesn’t object to vivisection itself—as a “scientific man,” he sees “nothing so horrible in vivisection” that would explain Moreau’s secrecy. However, as the Victorian period progressed, animal experimentation came under greater regulation, and some influential Victorians argued that such use of animals should be banned entirely. Wells’s original readers would have known these facts, so Prendick’s concerns about what Moreau is up to would likely have struck them with greater force. Something beyond what was at the time standard vivisection is underway on the island.
VIII. The Crying of the Puma.
Montgomery and his “grotesque attendant” interrupt Prendick’s musings to share a simple lunch. Montgomery regrets having called Moreau, who is too busy to join them, by his name; he knows that Prendick now has “an inkling of our—mysteries.” He offers Prendick whiskey and hints that his fondness for drink led to his leaving London. Abruptly, Prendick asks about the dark man’s furry ears, but Montgomery’s evasions are pierced by a “sharp, hoarse cry of animal pain” from the puma. Montgomery winces but doesn’t comment. He claims that he found his servant in San Francisco. Prendick confesses to feeling “a nasty little sensation, a tightening of the muscles” when he is near this “diabolical” man, and Montgomery, who doesn’t react this way, considers that such feelings explain the ship crew’s reactions to his servant.
The puma cries out again; Montgomery swears but says nothing. As the animal continues to howl, Prendick asks what race the men on the beach are. Montgomery merely says, “Excellent fellows,” as he downs more whiskey and continues to ignore the puma’s agonized cries. Lunch ends; the dark man removes the dishes; and Montgomery leaves Prendick alone with only the puma’s pain for company. Prendick tries to read but can’t, tries to plug his ears but feels the cries more intensely: “It was as if all the pain in the world had found a voice.” He flees the room and walks toward the sea till he can no longer hear the sounds.
This chapter is punctuated by the puma’s reaction to its pain; readers assume, because of Prendick’s piecing together Moreau’s identity, that it is the subject of vivisection. Montgomery’s reactions to the sounds are informative: He winces, he drinks, he swears under his breath. Yet he also continues to eat his lunch and to try to converse. From this mixed reaction, readers can guess that Montgomery is not comfortable with his employer’s methods but that he is certainly familiar with and used to them. Whatever is happening to the puma has happened to other animals, often enough that Montgomery not only expects it but doesn’t even try to intervene.
IX. The Thing in the Forest.
Prendick walks into the forest and sits by a brook to think more calmly. He falls “into a tranquil state” from which he is roused by the sight of a creature that has come to drink from the brook—“a man, going on all-fours like a beast,” clothed but ugly to behold, with a poorly proportioned body and oddly short legs. This creature sees Prendick and flees. Prendick walks back toward the enclosure till he can hear the puma again and then turns away. He sees in the ferns a rabbit, torn to pieces, and suddenly feels threatened in the dense forest. He makes for a clearing but stops short at the site of three “grotesque human figures”—one female and two males, nearly naked, with “fat, heavy, chinless faces, retreating foreheads,” and “bristly hair.” They speak in a “complicated gibberish,” chanting, swaying, and drooling. It strikes Prendick suddenly that these humans seems somehow like hogs—they have “the unmistakable mark of the beast.”
Silently, he turns away and finds a forest path, only to realize that the man he saw at the brook is shadowing him—hunting him, in fact. Prendick overcomes his terror and walks directly at the “Thing,” which evades him. The sun, Prendick realizes, will soon set, and he must get to safety, but he has lost the way back to the enclosure. He stumbles toward the beach to get his bearings, and the Thing follows stealthily. Prendick wraps a rock in a handkerchief as a weapon and runs toward the enclosure, hearing footsteps that gain on him. He turns and strikes the Thing in the head with the rock, and it collapses face down in the water. As Prendick races toward the “pitiful moaning of the puma” and the lights of the enclosure, he hears a voice calling him.
Readers who are keeping count have a growing list of oddly-deformed inhabitants of the island to consider now: a dark, “diabolical” man with furry, pointed ears; the graceless, cloth-wrapped crew of the launch; the hunter by the brook, and the slobbering pig-people in the clearing. Like Prendick, readers are trying to decide on the origin, purpose, and significance of these creatures. What is Moreau’s goal, and can he be said to have undertaken it in the name of science?
X. The Crying of the Man.
Montgomery runs toward Prendick and catches the exhausted man as he collapses near the enclosure. “You’ve been meeting some of our curiosities, eh?” he wryly comments. Prendick accepts a restorative sip of brandy and a bite of food before describing his adventures. In a state bordering on hysterics, he demands, “Tell me what it all means.” As the puma cries out yet again, Montgomery assures him, “It’s nothing very dreadful.” Prendick has probably sighted a “bogle.” Montgomery resists further explanation, instead suggesting that he give Prendick medicine to help him sleep off the shock of these events (and sleep through the puma’s cries). Prendick sleeps to broad day and wakes hungry and in fear as recent events rush back to him. All seems silent in the enclosure till Prendick hears a faint sound unlike the puma’s cries and yet much worse—the sound of a man moaning in pain.
Prendick rises to go to the man’s aid. Finding that Montgomery has left the door into the enclosure unlocked, he goes through it despite Montgomery’s command for him to stop. Prendick finds himself in a room that smells of blood and carbolic acid; one of the hounds yelps at him. Then he sees, bound on a framework, a form—“scarred, red, and bandaged.” Before he can ascertain what it is, Moreau’s frame blocks his view. The doctor, smeared with blood, easily lifts Prendick and flings him back through the door into his room, locking the door. Prendick hears him complaining to Montgomery: “Ruin the word of a lifetime.” Montgomery defends Prendick, who can’t possibly understand these events, but Moreau says that he has no time to explain now. Prendick feels “horrible misgivings” as he leaps to the conclusion that “the vivisection of men” is part of Moreau’s work: “The question shot like lightning across a tumultuous sky; and suddenly the clouded horror of my mind condensed into a vivid realisation of my own danger.”
Since the wreck of the Lady Vain, Prendick has scarcely been out of danger or free of uncertain threats, so it is not surprising that he becomes “hysterical” after his experiences in the forest. However, readers must keep in mind that Prendick is not at this point capable of dispassionate, objective thought. Readers should keep in mind that, as a narrator, Prendick is not entirely reliable. In fact, readers are as in the dark about Moreau’s work as Prendick is and get the facts as he does. The technique of the less-than-reliable narrator allows Wells to maintain suspense in the novella.