The Island of Dr. Moreau Teacher’s Guide

By H.G. Wells

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. At the time The Island of Dr. Moreau was published, Wells had gained success with The Time Machine. However, critics felt the plot of Dr. Moreau was just as unbelievable as that of The Time Machine. While time travel is, and always was, pure science fiction, the late 1800s did see many medical breakthroughs. Why would it be so hard for Wells’s audience to believe in biological engineering?

2. In the Foreword, Peter Straub speaks of the text being “at war with itself,” with the result that the narrative is tense and multi-layered. Do you agree with this assessment?

3. Notice the many stylesof language throughout the novel: Prendick’s continual misreading of sounds and explanations, the Beast Folk’s slurring speech, Moreau’s bumbling excuse for his experiments, and so on. How does Wells use these variations in language? Is his use of variations a comment on society or merely a literary device to further the plot?

4. Consider the strange litany the Beast Folk recite in chapter 12. What is Wells saying about religion? Is this strange religion positive or negative, and if positive, whom does it benefit — the creatures or their master?

5. Look at the three men in the novel. Compare Prendick’s mannerisms with those of Montgomery and Moreau throughout the book. What do each man’s mannerisms say about him? Do the mannerisms help or hinder each man throughout the action?

6. Wells was an educated man and studied under the famous scientist T. H. Huxley. Both men fully supported Darwin’s theory of evolution. Why, then, did Wells write a novel that seems to view science, and scientific experimentation, as a threat to society?

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