Home » Fantasy and the human mind » H.G. Wells – The Island of Dr. Moreau

H.G. Wells – The Island of Dr. Moreau

Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  by Eric Rabkin.

Four stories this week from the excellent H.G. Wells,  The Island of Dr. MoreauThe Invisible Man, “The Country of the Blind,” “The Star”

I had difficulty with this essay. Firstly I had just come back from holiday and so had to do it in a hurry. I did Poe just before going away and this one when I got back. I started off writing an essay about the three first stories as I could see a connection in the arrogance of the three men. The each wanted to rule a part of their world. This resulted in their ultimate downfall. I could not see where ‘The Star’ fitted into the pattern.

I had a comment on my last essay to give it a title. I tried it this time but I don’t think it makes a noticeable difference.

The essay became too big and I ran out of time and so I just wrote about one and did it very quickly. Some of the comments about it not quite coming together are justly made.

Please write an essay that aims to enrich the reading of a fellow student who is both intelligent and attentive to the readings and to the course. Each essay should be between 270 and 320 words.

Here is the essay that I submitted which received an average and justly given 4.


Are We Not Men?

In “The Island of Dr. Moreau” Wells explores what it is to be human. People act as beasts and beasts as people. Beasts are artificially humanised. Distinctions become increasingly vague.

Prendirck believes that M’ling is a deformed black man(Ch3). He is shocked when Captain Davis attacks M’ling from behind as would an animal. Montgomery exclaims “That man’s a passenger,”Only later do we discover that M’ling is not a man. Despite his beastly conduct the captain states that his “ship aint for beasts and cannibals”(Ch5).

Language distinguishes man and beast. Moreau uses language to humanise and rule beasts. Prendrick supports the puma’s torture until its screams sound like human language and he wonders “Could the vivisection of men be possible?”(Ch10).

‘The Laws’ each ending with ”are we not men?” are introduced in Chapter12. Of course they are not men but Moreau uses the Laws to rule the beasts and to protect himself. The first law is ‘Not to go on all-fours’. Men walk upright. Wells reminds us of this when Pendrick falls onto all fours from his hammock(Ch10) thus breaking a ‘law’.

The rules “not to eat Fish or Flesh” or “to chase other men” are used to protect humans. Men eat fish and flesh. When Montgomery shows M’ling how to skin and cook a rabbit Moreau reprimands realising the consequences of the beasts getting a taste for blood(Ch16).

Montgomery distinguishes the least between humans and beasts. He seems to be very fond of the beast people and even tries to party with them to devastating effect. Predndrick feels that Montgomery had “been with them so long that he had come to regard them as almost normal human beings”(Ch15)..

In London Prendick fears that people “would presently begin to revert,—to show first this bestial mark and then that.”(Ch22). In his final chapter Wells thus reminds us that humans are only talking animals.


Works cited:

Please note that this essay is written in British English.

Sources of information:

H.G. Wells –  The Island of Dr. MoreauThe Invisible Man, “The Country of the Blind,” “The Star”

This essay is purely on ‘The Island of Dr Moreau’.


Peer Review 

The review process is split into three parts.

Part one FORM

Please indicate in 30-150 words your judgment of the FORM of the essay you have just read.  FORM here refers to matters of grammar, usage, and structure. Are the sentences grammatically correct?  Are the words properly used?  Is the exposition and argument laid out clearly?  An ideal response would note one aspect of Form that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Form that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

peer 1 → * Please write spaces before parentheses (like this one) (if they don’t serve as an argument to a function). * Apostrophes (‘) aren’t meant to serve as quotes unless you are programing in some languages like C or Python. * Spaces before numbers never hurt anyone. Please use them. “Chapter10” is valid in some programming languages as a name for an object but is not valid in an essay. * You don’t need to mention the works you didn’t quote in the “Works cited” field. * Italics for quotations is good if and only if it is used in every quotation. Otherwise it destroys the structure of the text. * The paragraphs are too short and could be unified into 3 or 4 “real” paragraphs with a clearly stated thought inside.
peer 2 → I had issues following the form. It didn’t seem very focused and organized. The sentence structure and grammar is fine, what confuses me is the lack of an overall line to follow. I will give the essay a 4, nevertheless, because it for sure is no failing essay, just not very focused.
peer 3 → The sentences are grammatically correct and the words are properly used. The argument is laid out clearly. Nicely done.
peer 4 → Grammar and flow are correct.
peer 5 → An interesting and clearly-written essay with appropriate supporting references to the text. (This feedback is also written in British English.)

Please grade the FORM of the essay you have just read on a scale of 1 to 3. FORM here refers to matters of grammar, usage, and structure. Are the sentences grammatically correct? Are the words properly used? Is the exposition and argument laid out clearly? An ideal response would note one aspect of Form that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Form that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

Since everyone can learn to write better, at least 10% but no more than 30% of the grades should be 1. Everyone should strive for perfect grammar. However, if someone writes in ways that are particularly vivid or uses particularly incisive key terms to focus the argument or in some other way is outstanding in usage or structure, that essay should be awarded a 3 but no more than 20% of the grades should be a 3 because, by definition, “outstanding” is comparatively rare. Most grades should be 2.

Score from your peers: 2


Part two CONTENT

Please indicate in 30-150 words your judgment of the CONTENT of the essay you have just read. CONTENT here refers to matters of insight, argument, and example. Does the essay show a deep understanding of some aspect of the work or of a pattern that one can see in the work? Does the argument make sense, feel persuasive, and reveal the significance of the insight or insights? Are there concrete details from the text that support the argument and that we come to understand more powerfully because of the argument? An ideal response would note one aspect of Content that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Content that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

peer 1 → The thoughts are lost in bad structure. It is hard to trace them there.
peer 2 → The content didn’t seem to add much to what anyone would see at first glance. The thesis is hard to find, in my view. And the example do not seem to support any specific idea. I will give the essay a 4, though. It does fulfill the requirements to some degree.
peer 3 → The essay shows a deep understanding of the work, the argument makes sense and is persuasive. Details from the text were used to support the argument.
peer 4 → You could use more of your conjecture and less recap of the story to better prove your point.
peer 5 → An interesting discussion of the various ways Wells explores the distinctions between humans and animals: language, rules (“The Laws”), and the differing behaviours of Prendick, Moreau and Montgomery, as well as M’ling and the other Beast-Folk.

Please grade the CONTENT of the essay you have just read on a scale of 1 to 3. CONTENT here refers to matters of insight, argument, and example. Does the essay show a deep understanding of some aspect of the work or of a pattern that one can see in the work? Does the argument make sense, feel persuasive, and reveal the significance of the insight or insights? Are there concrete details from the text that support the argument and that we come to understand more powerfully because of the argument? An ideal response would note one aspect of Content that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Content that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

Since everyone can learn to write better, at least 10% but no more than 30% of the grades should be 1. Most people will offer their readers a new insight and some detailed reference to the text that argues for the significance of that insight and for an appreciation of how that detail functions, so most essays will enrich our reading and earn a 2. Some essays will be astonishingly new or persuasive or useful by making the story much richer and even by helping you understand better how to read stories in general. Such essays earn a 3 in Content, but no more than 20% of the grades should be a 3 because, by definition, “outstanding” is comparatively rare. Most grades should be 2.

Score from your peers: 2


Part three COMMENTS 

Please write here any other comments which you feel might be of use to you or the writer of this essay.
peer 1 → Bad structure definitely ruins your text. I didn’t mean to harm you with my evaluation, so please don’t be angry. You can do much better, I hope you will soon prove that by your next essays.

What I will take forward. 

The main thing that I will take forward a a sense of joy that there are not many peers as pedantic as peer one. This peer didn’t start by saying anything good, which I do with even the worst of essays. The tone was very condescending.  Of course I know about spaces before brackets and numbers, and of course this peer will know why I didn’t use spaces. The word count applies to all of us.  The final comment was just so condescending as to be untrue – you can do much better than this for a comment peer one.

The other comments I felt were very fair. The essay was rushed and I hadn’t spent enough time editing and revising it.

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