H. G. Wells's novel The Island of Doctor Moreau contains apparently monstrous figures in the Beast Men, the human–animal hybrids that Moreau has created and attempts to “perfect” through pain and the repetition of the Law. Yet Moreau's own philosophy, which attempts to read a purposeful progress out of nonprogressive, Darwinian evolution, is a monstrous hybrid in itself and results in creating an idea of the human that humans cannot live up to, and punishing that failure.

The central concern of the book is that the Beast Men are much the same as other men, and that in our bodies and beliefs, we are all monsters. We all have the remnants of our evolution in us, and while the teleological argument may state that we can be “improved” until we are “perfect,” Wells suggest that this expectation (particularly as it is carried out by Christianity, which threatens hellfire for transgressions) is in itself monstrous. The Island of Doctor Moreau demolishes the idea of a teleological understanding of species change, and with it any easy compromise between evolutionary readings of human progress and readings based in Christian revelation.

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