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Old August 28th, 2010, 06:25 PM   #11

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


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Originally Posted by avon View Post
Thanks! Won't he ever stop? I agree with Sargon, he's kinda, um, intense!
The Wells never runs dry. Intense? You mean you aren't.???

The Wordsworth-Tennyson coupling was very good.

The Freudian angle had never entered my mind. I can see it now that it's been pointed out. I will have to think a bit more about that and see how else Wells used Freud as a template. I see a touch of Jung there also. I am thinking here of mythological templates; i.e. Otto Rank the Freudian vs. Joseph Campbell the Jungian.
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Old August 28th, 2010, 06:29 PM   #12

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


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I haven't read Wells in a long time, having read the time machine in my youth. It was very well done, very suspenseful. The whole theory, of lower animals having latent human characteristics reminds me of Plato, who believed that we had knowledge in our minds that could be brought out with proper interrogation.

Wells showed a grasp of evolutionary theory and his protagonist was a student of one of Darwin's disciples Huxley. Dr. Moreau was a vivisectionist and I know there was a controversy abut that at the time in England. I myself, feel pain in this realm as I worked on live, but anesthetized animals with physiology experiments in school, dogs actually. I hadn't ever had a dog of my own before that but have had many now. I couldn't have gone through those experiments now with my knowledge of the loyalty and beauty of canines. I find it fitting that the main ally that the Protagonist had after Moreau's death was the dog-creature who sought him out and became his constant companion.

An excellent selection!

The flaw in Moreau's work was that the dog retained his natural instinct of loyalty to man - a best friend, so to speak. M'ling also has dog characteristics and remains close to Montgomory.


Another thing that's just this moment struck me: just before the island paradise collapsed into chaos, Moreau had just created the only woman in the tale. Was the puma supposed to represent Eve?
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Old August 28th, 2010, 06:31 PM   #13

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


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Originally Posted by Pedro View Post
The Wells never runs dry. Intense? You mean you aren't.???

The Wordsworth-Tennyson coupling was very good.

The Freudian angle had never entered my mind. I can see it now that it's been pointed out. I will have to think a bit more about that and see how else Wells used Freud as a template. I see a touch of Jung there also. I am thinking here of mythological templates; i.e. Otto Rank the Freudian vs. Joseph Campbell the Jungian.
Well once you've thought on it, just be sure to put it in simple terms ... please, for me!
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Old August 28th, 2010, 06:38 PM   #14

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


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Originally Posted by avon View Post
The flaw in Moreau's work was that the dog retained his natural instinct of loyalty to man - a best friend, so to speak. M'ling also has dog characteristics and remains close to Montgomory.


Another thing that's just this moment struck me: just before the island paradise collapsed into chaos, Moreau had just created the only woman in the tale. Was the puma supposed to represent Eve?
My take was that Moreau's creations did retain their native instincts... the simians to barchaite; the felines nocturnal and predatory behavior; and dogs loyalty to humans. There were other female creations as were as the puma, but she definitely caused the final catastrophe like Eve. The Puma was a good Eve I think.
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Old August 28th, 2010, 06:55 PM   #15

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


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There were other female creations as were as the puma, but she definitely caused the final catastrophe like Eve. The Puma was a good Eve I think.
Yes, there are definitely other 'females', but the puma - the cat - was clearly portrayed as a woman, and a new woman at that. In fact, a 'cat' is double-speak for a prostitute, a 'cathouse' is a brothel. So, I'm thinking that this puma is a specifically sexual device. The other females, so far as I can remember, are always described as 'female' and never 'woman'.
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Old August 28th, 2010, 07:29 PM   #16

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


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Indeed. This was actually the very sentence that I was going to use to open the thread - but then I changed my mind and went with the religious angle. Have you read The Time Machine? It was written the year before Moreau and I can't help thinking that there is a connection there between the theme you mention and the dichotomy created by the existance of the Eloi and the Morlock in the earlier tale. Prendick strikes me as being similar (though not exactly) to an Eloi whilst Moreau is similar to the creative and practical Morlock (even the name is similar) ... and like the Morlock he has an appetite that threatens to contradict that creativity.
I haven't read The Time Machine since High School, but I can plainly see where you are going with it, but I am not sure if the pieces fit right. With Prendick equating to the Eloi, what do they represent. I ask because, in this type of discussion, I am not sure what Prendick represents either. I see the Beastmen as the base ID, Moreau as the rational, controlling Super Ego, and Montgomery as the piece in between, the mediating Ego.

I see Prendick as simply the window for us to see the conflict of the three unfold, almost like a window into the mind.



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Do you know if that correspondence is available online? It would be worthwhile reading, IMO.
There is a book about these letters at Amazon, and a free preview on Google books, but the HG Wells portion is the piece that is left blank,(of course).

I did find a copy of a letter from Wells to Freud, but it primarily concerned Wells attempt to assist Freud in gaining British Citizenship.
http://www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk/...27&from_cat=80

I was unable to read them however, perhaps someone else will have better luck.

Last edited by okamido; August 28th, 2010 at 10:15 PM.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 04:38 PM   #17

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


These are just some random talking points, for what it’s worth.

There are so many different levels on which this work can be approached I don’t know where to begin. My mind swims.

Throwing out my first draft which went on and on for to long I’ll just put down a few thoughts at random. Mainly because ideas are bouncing off the walls of my mind. (Something I drank?)

First Symbolism.

The puma could very well be read as a sexual device. Especially if our template is Freudian. I use the word ‘template’ merely as a convenience, i.e. a teaching device, and not in a psychoanalytical sense. More in the mythological sense. It is my belief that myths can tell us as much about the psychic state as analysis. Take for example the opening with our hero ‘out to sea’ it’s not difficult to see that as representing the amniotic fluid that surrounds us at birth. We are told that one of the story elements of the mythological hero is a difficult birth. Like many myths Prendick’s story also begins with survival at sea and being cast upon an island.

Is there an Oedipal element in Prendick competing with Dr. Moreau (a father figure) for the puma (the new eve/mother) ? Here as in the Oedipal myth the father is destroyed. Perhaps something can be made of that. I don’t mean to suggest that Wells consciously crafted such symbolism. As with any writer worth their salt he has well honed instincts. And I would caution of making too much of symbolism.

***
A new Eve? Why not. Another important element of the heroes journey is the return. Prendick after his many adventures (part and parcel of the heroes journey) must re-enter the world. In this story he returns to England and finds it wanting. I see that as meaning that he did not experience rebirth but schizophrenia. A theme that one can see in most of Wells stories such as the invisible Griffin and the solitary Time traveler. One finds that the ability to slip through space is a curse, the other finds the ability to slip through time equally burdensome. (Einstein beside himself?)

***
Another theme is the thrust of Well’s attack against the overweening pride of intellect, even while he admires its products; and in this warning he is peculiarly a modern, the perfect Victorian with full confidence in “progress”. A confidence that allows him to fearlessly (yet nervously) step from the old century into the destructive twentieth.

***
In the War of the Worlds Wells shows war of the future to be more efficient; thereby making fun of the Victorian belief that machines would make war obsolete. In the Island of Dr. Moreau with its accelerated evolution he mocks those who mis-understand Darwin, i.e. those who are backwards. Just as Prendick does, on his first encounter, and misinterprets what he sees; assuming Moreau has turned men into beasts—not beasts into men.

***
Decent into the underworld.
Now here is a theme for a whole year of course work.!!
There is the scene where Prendick allows a beast-man to lead him down into a dark, hellish den where the monsters congregate. Prendick imagines himself as “already dead and in another world” . But he is not dead and not really in another world. (psychic striping of the ego?) Another rite of passage, a sort of bar-mitzva a la tropical. (Plato's cave gone condo.)

***
Under his first mistaken impression of Moreau’s experiments Prendick fears for his life; when he realizes the truth, he fears life itself. This is a central feature to the nature of the grotesque found in myths, for it is not an other world which is terrifying and strange, but our world—at least our world as we are forced to experience it under the pressure of new ideas or facts which we cannot process within our old world view. (Freud must have loved this story) Surprise or shock is an essential part of the grotesque; both Moreau and The Invisible Man illustrate this point. (The id struggles against the super-ego)

***

This story is rich in ideas and they run through out. What a treat this has been.

For example, in discussing sex and generation she comments,
‘..but women carry the greater burden.” (referring to pregnancy.)
He replies, “But not in their imagination.” What a wonderful and interesting insight.

I must admit that I wasn’t looking forward to reading this. I expected a run of the mill adventure story. How wrong I was.

Now I must purchase a hard copy so that I can underline all the choice phrases. And scribble comments in the margin.

Thanks for taking this book down from the shelf.


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Old August 30th, 2010, 04:57 PM   #18

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


Funny i've heard that movie nominated as one of the worst ever
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Old August 30th, 2010, 08:56 PM   #19

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


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Funny i've heard that movie nominated as one of the worst ever
Knowing that public castigation is possible, I actually enjoyed it. You must however, love overacting on a Shatner-esque level.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 08:57 PM   #20

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Re: HG Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


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Originally Posted by Pedro View Post
First Symbolism.

The puma could very well be read as a sexual device. Especially if our template is Freudian. I use the word ‘template’ merely as a convenience, i.e. a teaching device, and not in a psychoanalytical sense. More in the mythological sense. It is my belief that myths can tell us as much about the psychic state as analysis. Take for example the opening with our hero ‘out to sea’ it’s not difficult to see that as representing the amniotic fluid that surrounds us at birth. We are told that one of the story elements of the mythological hero is a difficult birth. Like many myths Prendick’s story also begins with survival at sea and being cast upon an island.

Is there an Oedipal element in Prendick competing with Dr. Moreau (a father figure) for the puma (the new eve/mother) ? Here as in the Oedipal myth the father is destroyed. Perhaps something can be made of that. I don’t mean to suggest that Wells consciously crafted such symbolism. As with any writer worth their salt he has well honed instincts. And I would caution of making too much of symbolism.
Interesting analysis that had never occurred to me.
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