Bad Reputations

I’m torn about “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”


I enjoyed every word of it, found the plot fascinating, and loved the sci-fi aspects, but I am less than pleased by H.G. Wells’ depiction of chimeras. Dr. Moreau’s beasts, (animals designed and modified to look like humans) make for excellent players in a horrifying plot. They’re fascinating and terrifying and mysterious, making them the perfect creatures to live on a sketchy island in the middle of nowhere, and this is all well and good so long as they don’t turn society away from productive science.


Now obviously, I’m not into vivisecting animals for no reason at all, and molding them into freaky animalhuman things, and making them chill on an island, but in terms of research, chimeras are far from worthless. According to Jielin Yu of Boston University, “Their utility in science lies in their unique biological integration of both human and animal cells, which can give rise to human tissues and even organs within the body of an animal. Useful applications of this technology range from the study of disease, to more accurate testing of drugs and medication, to the possibility of transplants using chimeric organs,” (read more at These research tactics are worthwhile, and while they may be uncomfortable to think about, they’re value outweighs the negatives by a long shot. Using animals for research purposes is not a new concept, so I wish that books like “The Island of Dr. Moreau” wouldn’t give chimeras such a bad face.


While the pumas and gorillas described in the novel are far closer to humans than the lab rats that medicine typically deals with, but that doesn’t mean Wells should have put such a bad name on chimeras and vivisection as a whole.


-K. Adams


~ by kristindadams on February 24, 2012.

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