Worshipping Humans vs Worshipping Animals
I could not help but think about all of the Egyptian gods and goddesses I had seen many pictures of when I went through my period of being extremely interested in Ancient Egypt as a child when we started talking about the combination of humans and animals in our Island of Dr. Moreau discussions. However, based on our discussions in class as well as some external reading I have done on the Egyptians opinions of their Gods’ animal forms here:
I have noticed some fundamental differences in the concept of the combination of humans and animals that Dr. Moreau had vs the concept of human-animal combination that the Egyptians had.
The Egyptians worshipped animals because they thought that their gods and goddesses were reincarnate in the animals that inhabited the earth. The descriptions of their gods and goddesses provided in the link above often include favorable characteristic traits of the animals such as the ability to protect by hovering above like a falcon or being able to punish criminals with the venom of the cobra. This is a far cry from the portrayal of animalistic traits in The Island of Dr. Moreau. The Egyptians feel that their gods embody the traits of animals because it embodies them to have special powers, yet Moreau views many of the same characteristics as primitive and needing to be corrected. While the combination of man and animal that the Egyptians portrayed was not akin to the scientific combination Dr. Moreau was striving for, it is obvious that their view of such a combination varied drastically from Moreau’s.
Moreau instead tries to get as much animal out of his patients as possible. He wants to make them think, learn, and act more like humans. He seems to despise animals and most certainly feels that humans are superior mentally and emotionally to animals. There are many parallels that can be drawn between Moreau’s opinions of his animal patients and Darwin’s attitude towards the “savages” in South America upon his visit there. They share an attitude of condescenscion and the assumption of superiority. All that is unethical and demented in this view I feel is embodied in The White Man’s Burden, by Rudyard Kipling:
Such assumptions of superiority pave the way for things like racism, bigotry, and stereotypes.
The contrast between how the Egyptians viewed the gifts of animals and what Dr. Moreau thought about animals’ role in the world in an interesting thing to think about. Why have people come to view animals as such worthless creatures? Do these feelings of superiority and right to do whatever we feel to animals extend to other areas of life? Do they extend to people of other races? genders? religion? It would seem that the feelings of superiority over other people, over animals, and over the Earth we live in that humans have is the source of many of our prominent problems in the world today.
Perhaps the Egyptians had it right in identifying the value in those things different than themselves and worshipping those differences instead of trying to force those things to become more like they were.