Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Moreau After Dark


H.G. Wells was not a man to shy away from the most intimate aspects of humanity. However, writing in the late Victorian Era, he could not be as explicit as he may have wished to be. For instance, in The Island of Doctor Moreau, you have a situation where three men are living on an island full of uplifted animals of both sexes. If the uplifted female animals are sufficiently human, the men are going to be sexually attracted to them. Wells never actually comes right out and says that any of his human men are banging the animal girls, but if you read between the lines, it becomes clear that, yeah, they are.

In chapter XV, "Concerning the Beast Folk", for instance, Prendick makes an odd observation about Montgomery: "I fancied even then that he had a sneaking kindness for some of these metamorphosed brutes, a vicious sympathy with some of their ways, but that he attempted to veil it from me at first." This sentence is sufficiently opaque that Prendick/Wells might have been talking about anything, but given the attitudes of the time, the only subject he would need to be opaque about would be sex. In addition, a few paragraphs earlier, Prendick/Wells states that "The females were less numerous than the males, and liable to much furtive persecution in spite of the monogamy the Law enjoined." In other words, the Law included a prohibition against rape and sexual promiscuity, but most of the male uplifted animals ignored it, and it doesn't require a great stretch of the imagination to believe that this was the "vicious sympathy with some of their ways" that Montgomery exhibited.

As for Prendick himself, after Moreau and Montgomery are killed, he takes to living in the village established by the uplifted animals. As the uplifts slowly revert to animalism, Prendick remarks on "how the quasi-human intimacy I had permitted myself with some of them in the first month of my loneliness became a shuddering horror to recall." Again, this is sufficiently vague that Prendick/Wells could be talking about anything; it is suggestive because there is only one topic he would need to be this vague about.

A few decades later, when Hollywood made its first film version of this novel, "Island of Lost Souls" it was made explicit that the Prendick character (named Parker in the film) was attracted to an uplifted panther woman named Lota. Every subsequent dramatization of the novel includes a romance between the variously-named Prendick character and an uplifted animal woman, because every Hollywood movie needs a romance plotline, and the writers can't resist the idea of a match between a human man and an uplifted animal woman.

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