Dark Artistry in The Island of Doctor Moreau
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In William Morris’s utopian romance News from Nowhere (1890), Hammond explains to the protagonist Guest that in Nowhere’s community: ‘Each man is free to exercise his special faculty to the utmost, and every one encourages him in so doing.’1 While this is an appealing vision of creative freedom and shared community, H.G. Wells provides a dystopian counterpoint to Morris’s utopian system in Doctor Moreau, a man who has ‘exercise[d] his special faculty to the utmost’ to horrible effect. In The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), the title character’s special faculty is his attempt to transform animals into men through the contemporarily debated practice of vivisection. In this haunting landscape of pain and progress, boundaries between man and animal break down through man’s use of animal bodies as fuel for science, labour and, most intriguingly, art.