Printer Friendly

EMPATHY, ANXIETY, AND THE BOUNDARIES OF HUMANITY: VIVISECTION DISCOURSE AND THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU.

Great Britain has experienced two fin de siecle furors over scientific experimentation on animals: the first, in protest of the popularization of vivisection by Victorian physiologists, and the second, a century later, as part of a broader resurgence of animal rights discourse and direct action, bolstered by the publication of Peter Singer's Animal Liberation (1975). (1) My inquiry concerns the first vivisection debate, but 1 open with a revealing moment from a fictional account of the second: Fatlands, Sarah Dunant's 1993 crime novel about the Animal Liberation Front. The text is at once a taut thriller and a wry exploration of the moral ambiguities attending our use and abuse of animals, which it gradually reveals to be inextricable from both nurturing and exploitive relationships among humans. Private investigator Hannah Wolfe, previously unreflective about the source of her morning bacon, suddenly identifies with experimental pigs when she finds herself chloroformed like a Victorian vivisection subject and spirited away to a slaughterhouse by the corporate malefactors whose plots she has unraveled. As both Hannah and the pigs recognize in terror their imminent violent death, she reports that she "heard [her] own voice rising up to join theirs" (218). It is the visual of animal slaughter and its apparatus--"a forest of hanging carcasses... a long, dancing line of steel hooks... the stuff of a thousand movie images of death" (219)--that solidifies for Hannah her own, differently motivated threat at the hands of a common enemy. In the crisis, she cannot distinguish between the pigs' interest and her own. As she enables pigs to trample her assailant while making an escape, Hannah feels "a sense of release that something held in was now set free. But whether that was me or the pigs I couldn't tell you" (226). Hannah's fear merges with that of the pigs as her interests and theirs coincide, yet her narration portrays them as alien, de-individualized, and monstrous; they are "a solid bulwark of meat on sharp hooves, mad with the sounds and smells of death and the size of their own bodies" (226). Hannah's transient empathy for the pigs is intertwined with anxiety about their otherness; it is situational, grounded in a shared experience of bodily threat. It heightens Hannah's consciousness of her own physicality and mortality. Momentary empathy with the pigs unsettles her casual acceptance of the capitalist hierarches in which she is enmeshed, which consume both the pigs, as food source and test subject, and women like Hannah, as labor source and sex object.

But Hannah's momentary empathy with the doomed, chemically altered swine stops short of conscious sympathy and compassionate action on their behalf. She has been shocked into reexamination of her own creaturely existence, and intuits what Donna Haraway has argued regarding our relation to nonhuman animals: "there is no way of living that is not also a way of someone, not just something, else dying differentially" (80). Her forays into the related worlds of animal experimentation and animal rights activism make Hannah more conscious of her impact on other creatures, but the only actions she takes serve to correct shoddy research practices that endanger the safety of a human food supply chain. Hannah's fleeting connection with the pigs brings the novel to its crisis, but its only lasting influence on the character's consciousness is a lingering discomfort with seemingly immoveable modes of production and consumption. Hannah Wolfe and her narrative are imaginative products of a culture in which both factory farming and corporatized animal experimentation have become normalized practices that, under regular circumstances, are veiled from public view. When forced to confront the reality that her bacon has a voice, and its own body, and relatedly to recognize the inverse--that her own body can become meat, and her own voice be silenced--Hannah vacillates between empathy and horror. As soon as she is no longer obliged to physically encounter the pigs, her compartmentalization returns and her acute uneasiness at their suffering recedes into ambivalence. My inquiry, focused one century prior to the setting of Dunant's novel, concerns the intellectual and cultural negotiations through which Hannah's affective response to animal experimentation developed and became common, even typical, as a layperson's attitude.

The ethical dilemmas that drive the plot of Dunant's thriller follow from a post-Darwinian scientific understanding of human and nonhuman animal life as a continuum with meaningful points of distinction but no absolute boundary. For example, recognition of similarity enables Hannah's initial empathy with the pigs, but a corresponding impulse to enforce difference motivates her revulsion from and final apathy toward them. Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) inaugurated a kinship relation between the traditionally distinct categories of human and animal, engendering new possibilities for cross-species empathy while also provoking anxiety about the bestial potential within the human. Darwin further developed these arguments in The Descent of Man (1871), in which he claims greater distance between a fish and an ape than between an ape and a human (213), and declares, "there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties" (214). At the close of the nineteenth century, both empathetic and anxious responses to this newfound interconnection play out on the ground of vivisection, a technology of evolutionary biology. As I shall explore in detail, the material realities and regulatory challenges of vivisection practice forced the Victorian researcher, broader scientific community, and general public to confront the intellectual and emotional implications of evolutionary theory. Debates took as their starting point the division or correspondence between human and animal, but also served to negotiate boundaries of nationality (differing research methods and mores) and class (the role of vivisection in securing advanced professional status for physiologists). Empathy toward the suffering of nonhuman animals, reinforced by the Darwinian revelation of their biological relation to humans, was certainly a crucial motivator for antivivisectionists. However, anxiety regarding the potential of vivisection to blunt sympathy, and more particularly, the potential of foreign research practices and philosophies to destroy the uniquely sympathetic character of the English, was perhaps a still stronger factor in the Victorian antivivisection movement. (2) H. G. Wells's 1896 novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, an account of vivisection gone awry, enters this fray as an investigation into the potential humanity of animals and the unarguable animality of humans.

Wells, like his narrator-protagonist (90), was the undergraduate student of T. H. Huxley, the fierce advocate of evolutionary theory and vivisection practice. His text participates in a cultural dialogue catalyzed by physiological research that revealed as much similarity as difference among species, muddying the distinction between human and animal. This fundamental boundary breach opened an intellectual space to question hierarchies of race, class, and gender that structured Victoria's empire. Nineteenth-century proponents of vivisection capitalized on human/animal structural commonalities but sought to stabilize human ascendency through reference to psychic refinement. In contrast, The Island of Doctor Moreau disruptively locates empathy, the cornerstone of social cohesion, in instinctive visceral response. Reason and its corollary self-regulation are coded as human, and particularly English and masculine, but compassion is creaturely, circulating across social hierarchies and species barriers. In both Darwin's theory and Wells's novel, embodied empathy is figured as a practical means of group defense, and it reveals kinship that traverses culturally and philosophically sacrosanct divisions.

Evolutionary theory, and the vivisection practice it justified, offered new imaginative language for novelists to talk about difference, categorization, and intermingling. While I agree with Carrie Rohman's assessment that The Island of Doctor Moreau "remains irreducibly interested in the ontological boundary between human and animal" (74), I read the novel not only as a literary text with philosophical significance but as an intervention into specific late-Victorian scientific and activist debates surrounding research methods and the theories that rationalize them. As human-animal studies compels greater attention, twenty-first-century critics have turned to The Island of Doctor Moreau with particular interest, and this recent dialogue informs my approach. Some scholars have productively situated the text in relation to ethical and regulatory questions Victorian vivisection raised and related debates surrounding animals' capacity for language. (3) Others have usefully considered the novel's relevance for current questions of animal research and hybridity, observing its prescience for genetic engineering. (4) I view Wells's novel as a bridge between Victorian and contemporary scientific cultures. My analysis reads The Island of Doctor Moreau as taking an active part in the fin de siecle intellectual and cultural negotiations about laboratory practices that followed Darwin's revelations regarding human-animal kinship. I am interested in how the novel engages both pro- and antivivisection discourse in a fictional context that acknowledges moral uncertainty, thus contributing to development of modern scientific and lay attitudes toward animal experimentation. When popularization of evolutionary theory led to widespread understanding of species boundaries as mutable, the rationale for research use of animals began to change.

In its figuration of the origins and consequences of cross-species empathy, The Island of Doctor Moreau disrupts ethical as well as biological divisions between human and animal. Genre is relevant to its themes: despite opening like a travel narrative, The Island of Doctor Moreau can be considered as both science fiction, speculating on future outcomes of present-day technologies, and as Gothic literature. The Gothic genre emphasizes contrasting yet interchangeable states--for instance, pure/corrupt and entrapped/free. In the scientifically conscious fin de siecle Gothic, Kelly Hurley finds "in place of a body stable and integral... a body metamorphic and undifferentiated" (3). A purposeful generic hybrid, The Island of Doctor Moreau bespeaks the broader late-Victorian impulse to break down and re-member traditional literary forms to suit changing definitions of human identity in the face of scientific innovation and cultural upheaval. Mason Harris regards it as the only one of Wells's novels where science fiction is fully subsumed in the Gothic, because it cannot "contain horror within a normative scientific vision" (99). In Wells's novel, the vivisected body reveals not the integrated systems and organized hierarchies physiologists sought, but the radical vulnerability and dynamic change of embodied life, which cuts across species boundaries. In both policy debates and artistic representations, vivisection practice forced an uncomfortable confrontation with the shifting margins of self and Other implied by evolutionary biology.

I. Boundaries and Beasts

Both empathy and anxiety are psychological processes dependent upon an active relation between interior self and exterior social/material world. In the social psychoanalytic framework outlined by philosopher Kelly Oliver, empathy might be understood as non-confrontational recognition of the Other that sustains stable self-identity. (5) Similarly, political philosopher Martha Nussbaum defines empathy as "the ability to imagine the situation of the other" (148), which requires both recognizing difference and making an effort to understand that different perspective; empathy may prompt compassion but has no necessary relation to it (148-49). Likewise, anxiety is an emotion directed beyond the self. In Ugly Feelings, her study of the narrative form of negative emotional states, Sianne Ngai observes that "anxiety has a spatial dimension," which she links to the Freudian concept of projection, "an outward propulsion or displacement--that is, the quality or feeling the subject refuses to recognize in himself and attempts to locate in another person or thing" (210). Empathy and anxiety both operate through boundary-crossing between the self and whatever being, people, or object is coded as Other. In Victorian culture, evolutionary theory and vivisection practice produce anxiety regarding humanity's place within a destabilized hierarchy of creatures, yet they also prompt empathetic responses to the similarity and vulnerability of other bodies.

In the late-Victorian era, vivisection might be termed a technology of evolutionary biology: a scientific practice, requiring specialized equipment and techniques, which both derived its authority from evolutionary theory and functioned to normalize that theory within the scientific and medical community. Vivisection, which entails systematic cutting and manipulation of a living animal, assumes bodily structures can only be properly understood when life processes are ongoing. Although it was done for centuries prior to formalized accounts of species transmutation, vivisection gained credibility in the second half of the nineteenth century precisely because Darwin's theory linked human and nonhuman animals, implying greater medical utility for the research. The similarity of physiology between scientists and their laboratory subjects presented an uncomfortable contradiction, as Jed Mayer suggests: evolutionary kinship between human and animal bodies both intellectually justified vivisection and ethically impugned it (401). Some means of differentiation was needed. As a result, Mayer argues, "Hierarchical distinctions between species were aggressively maintained in discourses surrounding the emotions, particularly responses to pain" (406). Fin de siecle vivisection practice required the experimenter to regulate how he (pronoun chosen advisedly) conceptualized the boundary between self and Other: the animal on the table must be structurally like, but affectively unlike, the scientist manipulating its (not his or her) body. The emotional boundary-work of vivisection requires a Darwinian refiguration of empathy, away from the laboratory animal and toward broader (primarily human) populations. (6) For the vivisectionist, empathy was not a bond between individuals but a more diffuse connection between the self and the good of many similar selves that form a community. Such empathy was haunted by an anxiety, likewise embedded in evolutionary theory, that the similarity between human and nonhuman animal is far more than structural.

Evolutionary theory and vivisection practice depend upon an understanding of taxonomic boundaries as paradoxically both permeable and enforceable. Mobile boundaries between human and animal can emphasize difference and connection with equal readiness. As Lawrence Buell observes, Darwin's evolutionary thought oscillates between poles in its understanding of the relations among human and nonhuman animals. Buell argues that Darwin's work demonstrates "instability and compartmentalization" by which "human and animal others can be reduced or aggrandized in relation to advanced humans: either likened to each other (whether honorifically or slightingly) or treated as irreconcilably different, according to whether the emphasis is on the evolutionary threads that link them or the gradients between them" (228-29). Vivisection exists at the nexus of these opposing positions: predicated at once on physiological sameness and moral/emotional difference. The Victorian vivisectionist--male, European, educated--must maintain awareness of his biological similarity with the animal on the table while simultaneously controlling any anxiety about the ethical implications of that similarity: not only for the moral problem of inflicting pain, but also for the stability of classed, raced, and gendered hierarchies. An uneasy defender of vivisection, Darwin himself never practiced it (Turner 86-87). Vivisection practice forces direct personal confrontation with the boundary instability inherent in evolutionary theory.

In positing similarity of origin and physiology across species, evolutionary biology complicates an ancient philosophical precedent: the fundamental difference between humanity and everything classed "animal." Although it does not explicitly discuss the evolutionary position of humans, On the Origin of Species implies the human-animal kinship that The Descent of Man makes clear. Jacques Derrida observes that Western philosophy "from Aristotle to Lacan" insists "the animal is without language," thereby essentially different and lesser (400). Derrida interrogates the simplicity of the boundary "between man in general and the animal in general," and particularly, the homogeneity it implies regarding all life on the "animal" side (408-09). He declares that "there is no animal in the general singular, separated from man by a single indivisible limit," arguing for recognition of "plurality" among animals (415). In an era when, for example, a gorilla can convey emotional as well as physical needs to humans using sign language, Derrida's recognition of plurality among animals should not seem radical. (7) Yet even in our contemporary moment, scientists, who of all humans might best perceive the interconnections between species and diversity among them, sometimes invoke the draconian human/animal boundary to justify animal experimentation.

Some pragmatically-motivated contemporary laboratory practices effectively reinforce this philosophical boundary. The standardization and corn-modification of lab animals, which are now bred and even genetically modified to order, can encourage experimenters to view animals as a generalized category rather than unique types and individuals. (8) Likewise, increasingly marked physical separation of laboratory space from the "animal house" in which experimental subjects live, necessitated by security and cleanliness protocols, reifies the human/animal division (Birke et al 114). Within laboratory contexts, the longstanding human-animal boundary is often articulated as a rational hierarchy. In a 2012 study of ethical boundary-work in UK animal research laboratories, sociologist Pru Hobson-West interviewed eighteen scientists and found they typically described a sharp divide between humans and animals in which "the former are constructed as possessing a higher moral worth" (660). Even an interviewee working with primates, our close genealogical cousins, ascribed greater value to human life on account of the complexity of our social and affective relations (654). Across this divide, resistant moments of individual human-animal affective connection nonetheless occur, as when animal technicians treat selected experimental subjects as "lab pets" or medical students express greater distress at "sacrificing" a dog that resembles their companion animal at home (Birke et al 104-05, 83-84). Affective connection with laboratory animals is not so much discouraged as it is directed in channels that enable scientists to acknowledge harm to individual animals while taking comfort in those animals' role in achieving a broader objective. Sociologists Linda Burke, Arnold Arluke, and Mike Michael explain that a sense of partnership is created through the normalization of a discourse of "sacrifice," in which the lab animal "becom[es] data" through its death, "enabl[ing] the animal to be linked to the larger purposes of the experiment" (100). This formulation implicitly acknowledges that the animal's life and death within scientific research should have meaning, as we hope our human lives do. Twenty-first-century laboratory practice and scientific discourse work both to contain spontaneous moments of emotional connection with lab animals and to position these animals, like the ritual sacrifice or the patriots who die in war, as giving their lives for a greater cause.

Our modern norms of how laboratory animals are described, cared for, and related to the experimenter's emotional life developed at least in part out of nineteenth-century intellectual and cultural debates surrounding vivisection. Historian of science Paul White characterizes the Victorian vivisection controversy as animated by "two pursuits, the one conceived as a detached search for truth, abstracted from immediate human use, the other as a compassionate dedication to the alleviation of pain and suffering" (101). New laboratory technologies were deployed to balance competing claims; for instance, the use of anesthetics in vivisection enabled the physiologist both to improve experimental accuracy by immobilizing the subject, and to grant a concession to animal welfare activists by presumably alleviating its pain (White 112-14). In managing both their individual emotional responses during experimental practice, and their public image as professionals, Victorian physiologists balanced "displays of passion for animals, for science, and for humanity" against the emotional distance commonly associated with scientific inquiry (White 118). We see traces of this interplay in twenty-first-century constructions of the lab animal within scientific discourse and in practical management of such animals.

The human-animal boundary came under imaginative negotiation in the nineteenth century following public attention to Darwin's theories, not only in scientific thought and the debates surrounding animal welfare, but within popular literature such as Gothic and detective fiction. The confluence of the Gothic with evolutionary theory is logical; as Hurley argues,
the narrative of Darwinian evolution could be read as a supernaturalist
or Gothic one: evolution theory described a bodily metamorphosis which,
even though taking place over aeons and over multiple bodies, rendered
the identity of the human body in its most basic sense--its
distinctness from 'the brute beasts'--unstable. (56)


Moreau's island accelerates these transformations, forcing recognition of the beast within the human. The Island of Doctor Moreau participates in the Victorian intellectual project of defining species boundaries through moral and emotional response. These boundaries, like those of class and race, were reinforced culturally but challenged on a physiological level by evolutionary biology. Wells's novel ultimately reveals the logical failure of separating moral and affective life from biological.

II. Confusion of Categories in The Island of Doctor Moreau

The Island of Doctor Moreau opens like a narrative of travel and adventure, both genres of which raise expectations of the intrepid Englishman contrasted with exoticized foreigners and so-called savages. Yet Prendick's experiences instead require him, and his contemporaneous readers, to reevaluate their privileged complacency. The novel's generic transition--from the reassuring self/Other contrast of travel and adventure narrative to the disorienting self/Other mingling of Gothic and science fiction--formally supports its thematic disruption of traditional British cultural divisions, including those of gender and race as well as that of human/animal. The text confronts the narrator-protagonist with a series of questions that plagued anxious late-Victorians: What distinguishes the English from the foreign? What distinguishes the civilized from the savage? And finally what, if anything, distinguishes the human from the animal?

In dissolving the boundary between human and animal, Wells's novel disrupts other classificatory systems. Productively reading the text as a drama of beset Imperial British masculinity, Cindy Hendershot observes the potential of Darwinian evolution to challenge rather than reinforce both racial and species distinctions, and suggests that while Moreau and Prendick are clearly invested in racist hierarchies, the text as a whole seems ambivalent (3, 6). Tellingly, until halfway through the book it is unclear to the narrator-protagonist whether Moreau's Beast-Men are de-evolved, embruted humans or modified animals. Prendick initially tries to assimilate them into his typically racist Victorian understanding of human hierarchies, for instance, describing one as a "man... of a moderate size, and with a black negroid face" (89). But their behavior, even more than their abnormally proportioned bodies, baffles his available systems of categorization. Prendick sees the Leopard-man drink on all fours (98) and destroy prey like a carnivore (99). Yet Beast-folk possess not only language but also what, according to Derrida, Western philosophy identifies as the uniquely human ability to dissemble (Derrida 401). For instance, Moreau's servant M'Ling, helping to conceal the island's secret from its uninvited guest, observes Prendick in what he terms "a peculiarly furtive manner, quite unlike the frank stare of your unsophisticated savage" (93), crediting M'Ling with developed subterfuge. The Beast-Men combine traits typical of their composite animals with attributes Prendick identifies with human culture; they are both more and less than he expects them to be. They call into question not only the boundary between human and animal, but the very possibility of taxonomizing life into organized categories, and thereby the socioeconomic hierarchies on which the British Empire depends.

Prendick's narration reveals instability within the category of humanity quite apart from Moreau's scientific interventions. Before the Beast-Men are introduced, the most fundamental human social taboo is broken, with Prendick consenting to the cannibalistic drawing of lots in hopes of surviving the wreck of the Lady Vain. By the time the schooner Ipecacaunha finds him, Prendick has already become acutely conscious that his adherence to moral and social norms is precarious and situational. Consciously he insists upon the division between man and beast, but his discourse insistently destabilizes that boundary. The language of animality interpenetrates his descriptions of human life. For instance, Prendick calls the drunken schooner captain a "brute" (80, 85), the same word he applies to dogs (80) and a puma (85) that the ship is transporting to Moreau's laboratory. Such linkage to animal creation is not limited to intemperate or working-class characters, thus not explicable through the narrator's moral or economic elitism. The teetotalling gentleman Prendick experiences a "sense of animal comfort" (106) upon safe rescue, and toward the novel's close expresses an enthusiasm to "hunt" (166) his foe the hyena-swine that does not stem from any rational need to eliminate a threat. The Island of Doctor Moreau subverts the upper-class Englishman's assumption that by race, class, nationality, and gender he is the least animalistic of humans.

Wells's aristocratic English protagonist seeks to define himself against an animal Other, but the text emphasizes equivalency and interconnection over opposition. As Laura Otis suggests, "speech, reason, and intellect" fail to distinguish human from animal within this novel (46). Meeting the Beast-Man servant M'Ling, who is presented as human, Prendick marvels that "I had never beheld such a repulsive and extraordinary face before, and yet--if the contradiction is credible--I experienced at the same time an odd feeling that in some way I had already encountered exactly the features and gestures that now amazed me" (79, emphasis in original). Watching the swine creatures dance, he feels "conflicting impressions of utter strangeness and yet of the strangest familiarity" (100). Prendick instinctively recognizes his evolutionary kinship with the Beast-Men; in that similarity, more so than their oddity, originates his revulsion. Hurley identifies the Beast-People as "liminal entities," distressing because "in resembling both [animal and human], they resemble nothing at all" (103); certainly, they are creatures of the threshold, but here they disconcert Prendick through recognizability more than peculiarity. Moreau's Beast-Men demonstrate some capacity for intellectual and moral function. They practice a form of religion and law, are capable of at least "trying to think" (122), and some engage in what might be construed as altruistic behavior, notably, when the sloth-creature warns Prendick of the hyena-swine's murderous approach (169). Much as Prendick protests his difference, there is no clear ethical, behavioral, or even physiological distinction between man and beast. One might argue that the Beast-Men are not morally inferior to the novel's humans, they simply have different limitations and capacities. One ethical merit they have over humans, or at least over Moreau and the ship's captain, is that while they readily kill out of need, wrath, or desire for dominance, they do not torture. (10) Deprived of the Western philosophical prop of defining the human against the animal, Prendick loses grip on his own identity.

This confusion of categories deepens with the narrator-protagonist's long residence among the Beast-Men. Prendick confesses, "my eye became habituated to their forms, and at last I even fell in with their persuasion that my own long thighs were ungainly" (134). He further affirms, "I suppose everything in existence takes its color from the average hue of our surroundings. Montgomery and Moreau were too peculiar and individual to keep my general impressions of humanity well denned" (135-36). Here recognition of human individuality, one of the defining cultural movements of the nineteenth century, disrupts the narrator-protagonist's ability to generalize about the qualities that distinguish humanity from other species. In reckoning with the difference of the Beast-Men's bodies and minds, Prendick comes to question the normative nature of his own. Following Prendick's acculturation to the Beast-Men and deprivation from human civilization, his retrospective narration foregrounds the failures of a societal dichotomy that his island experiences have eroded.

III. Science and Sympathy

The Island of Doctor Moreau reveals uncertainty about humanity's hierarchal relation to nonhuman animals through Prendick's linguistic choices as narrator and his observations as a protagonist comparing himself to a new category of sentient creatures. It also takes the arguably more radical step of portraying scientific inquiry, a uniquely human intellectual practice, as destructive to empathy. Vivisection debates in the second half of the nineteenth century raised the question of whether intellectual attainment and ethical development ever might be at odds, and how to respond if they were. Vivisection provoked moral questioning that agricultural, labor, and sporting uses of animals had seldom done. If physiological study depends upon a vivisection practice that blunts compassion, how can medical knowledge be improved without threatening the sympathetic connections upon which human community depends? If the capacity to sympathize with suffering signifies human moral refinement, how must vivisectionists redefine the human in order to justify prolonged infliction of pain upon fellow creatures? In seriously engaging these questions, Wells's novel articulates an antivivisection discourse contrary to its author's stated position on the subject.

The character of Moreau, seen through Prendick's first admiring and then horrified eyes, represents an extreme form of the Victorian pro-vivisection position. Readily conceding that vivisection entails inflicting pain, Moreau removes suffering from a moral framework: "pleasure and pain have nothing to do with heaven or hell" (127). He flatly denies Prendick's assertion that only a practical application could justify vivisection (126). Maintaining that true research is driven by intellectual curiosity alone (124-28), Moreau reproaches Prendick's squeamishness over another being's suffering, arguing that such sensitivities reduce man to a lower order of creature: "So long as visible or audible pain turns you sick; so long as your own pain drives you; so long as pain underlies your propositions about sin--so long, I tell you, you are an animal, thinking a little less obscurely what an animal feels" (126). Prendick regards this as "sophistry" (126), but Moreau insists the scientist's "intellectual passion" demands elimination of sympathy for his subject's pain: "The thing before you is no longer an animal, a fellow-creature, but a problem!" (127). Moreau's declaration echoes the words of eminent French physiologist and vivisector Claude Bernard, who in 1865 wrote that the "man of science, absorbed by the scientific idea, which he pursues... no longer hears the cry of animals, he no longer sees the blood that flows, he sees only his idea and perceives only organisms concealing problems which he intends to solve" (103). (11) Moreau regards pain as evolutionarily useless to the developed thinker (126-27). Like his real-life counterpart, he attempts to re-cast sympathy, long considered a marker of cultural refinement and human advancement, as an impediment to sophisticated intellectual activity. Although neither Bernard (100-02) nor Moreau (124-25) condone human vivisection, both recount historical examples without clear disapproval. In accordance with some contemporaneous movements in scientific and popular discourse, Moreau understands the vivisected body as a site of intellectual meaning rather than emotional and physical pain. (12) His impatience with Prendick's concern for the sensory evidence of animal pain echoes the frustration of physiologists who chastised antivivisectionists for privileging the immediate suffering of animals (seen or sensed) over the human benefit of vivisection practice (distant and dispersed, yet more important). (13) Moreau's perspective is undermined within the novel, however, just as similar arguments were challenged in real-world debates. Not only does Prendick argue back in dialogue, but his narration integrates language suggestive of vivisection into descriptions of menace: when trapped, he likens himself to a "hospital rabbit" (108); in a foreboding landscape, "the steamy ravine cut like a smoking gash" (119); and the sound of a revolver "cut[s] like a knife" through animal noise (156). Where Moreau insists upon the elevated intellectualism of vivisection, Prendick defiantly sees the "fellow-creature," not only the "problem"; as both character and narrator he aligns Moreau's vivisection practice with physical violence rather than intellectual discovery. The absence of any practically beneficial research outcome is a key aspect of Prendick's revulsion, but not a full explanation for it.

Victorian antivivisection discourse repeatedly criticized the practice in terms very similar to those that Prendick articulates to Moreau: vivisection lacks broader utility to rationalize the suffering it imposes on its experimental subjects. In contrast with their European counterparts, prior to the 1860s, most British researchers regarded vivisection as not only unduly cruel but also contrary to sound natural philosophy (Ritvo 158). As late as 1862, at a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals international congress, multiple British physicians condemned vivisection in the strongest terms. A Dr. Savage called vivisection "a most abominable practice, which had in no single instance been of the slightest benefit to the profession," and a Dr. Day declared, "the most learned physiologists had long ceased to draw any conclusion from such barbarous data" ("Vivisection and Cruelty" 5). The odd phrase "barbarous data" bears comment for its equation of the unrefined character of an action with the quality of scientific information it produced. The success of French and German researchers who embraced vivisection eventually tempted the British scientific community to shed these scruples (Ritvo 158). Nonetheless, even when British physicians and scientists endorsed vivisection as a legitimate and defensible practice, they did so in terms starkly different from those employed by Wells's fictional physiologist. The 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act (sometimes called the Vivisection Act, 39 and 40 Vict. C. 77) stipulated that the practice only be performed for "an original, useful purpose" (Bates 26), a standard which neither Moreau, nor some real-life Continental experimental physiologists, could meet.

The linkage of Moreau to real-life pro-vivisection thinkers who were French or French-trained gives the character intellectual credibility, but also codes him as ethically problematic and culturally Other. As historian Harriet Ritvo has argued, "the identification of animal protection with solid English virtue could... function as an instrument of marginalization": while the use of nonhuman animals was broadly accepted, Victorians who wantonly disregarded animal welfare might be excluded both from national community and from accepted moral frameworks (143). When in 1861 RSPCA representatives traveled to France to lobby against vivisection, they emphasized its lack of utility when meeting the emperor and his nominated Academy of Medicine commission, which included Bernard. Much like the fictional British gentleman-scientist Prendick, the British delegation argued that vivisection was "inadmissible unless an absolute necessity for it exists" ("Suppression of Vivisection" 1). Rather than underscoring the suffering the practice caused, they challenged its scientific accuracy, insisting "the very violence of the operation itself sets up an artificial or unnatural state of things wholly useless for safe or reliable conclusions" ("Suppression of Vivisection" 1). While his nationality is never directly stated, Moreau's name marks him as French, and his defense of vivisection aligns with Bernard's published reflections on the subject. France was the source of both vivisection's greatest scientific advances and its most reviled scandals of cruelty. Tellingly, two of the most famous English scandals over reckless vivisection concerned foreign doctors: French Eugene Magnan, prosecuted by the RSPCA in 1874 (Ritvo 159-60), and Russian-French Elie de Cyon, whose treatise on vivisection ignited a firestorm in the late 1870s (Milburn 140). Either might have served Wells as a model for Moreau's public infamy, although Hurley identifies his namesake as French neurologist Jean Jacques Moreau, whose 1859 treatise on morbid psychology addressed physiological failures impacting moral sense (109). British researchers' animosity toward their Gallic counterparts influenced domestic debates: indeed, A. W. H. Bates credits the British medical establishment's "continued animus toward French physiologists," to a greater degree than actual antivivisection testimony, with the passage of the 1876 Act (26). This was the first legislation of any national government regulating animal experimentation, enabling the British to claim leadership in animal welfare--without, in fact, meaningfully limiting vivisection (Guerrini 90). In the 1880s, after British physicians' and scientists' general acceptance of vivisection, one means by which pro-vivisectionists deflected critique was to ascribe the worst torments to Continental laboratories, defending British researchers on the grounds that they typically used anesthetics (Rupke 198). In a rhetorical strategy similar to justifications for British imperial expansion, cruelty and personal ambition were displaced onto the foreign rival, whereas the English practice was defended as painful (to its practitioners, whose sensibilities were affronted) but necessary for the greater human good.

In the wake of public outcry surrounding the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act, physiologists and the medical establishment more broadly saw the need to respond to their lay critics, and began a campaign of professional organizing which produced pamphlets and magazine articles aimed at the common reader (Rupke 188-93). Their strategy was to appeal to the usefulness of vivisection in developing medical knowledge that would directly benefit human health (Rupke 194-96). Historian Rob Boddice argues that such conscious redirection of sympathy from the individual vivisection subject toward the hypothetical multitudes of humans (and animals) whom an increase of physiological knowledge might benefit was part of a broader movement in post-Darwinian scientific thought that reframed sympathy from a response to perceived individual suffering to a wider movement to alleviate suffering across populations. (15) Medical historian Nicolaas Rupke has suggested, however, that the motives of physicians and scientists who embraced and defended vivisection were more varied and perhaps more self-interested than it would initially appear. He observes that late-Victorian physiologists and their allies regarded the anti-vivisection movement as a broader attack on science and on the newly acquired cachet of the medical profession (Rupke 198-99). Rupke asserts that "animal experimentation became widespread in the course of the nineteenth century, not just because of the medical benefit that was said to flow from it, but because it helped legitimate biomedical research as a true science and thus to confer on its practitioners the social prestige they sought" (200). In defending vivisection, late-Victorian physicians were not merely defending a specific experimental practice, but also protecting the status of medicine as both a knowledge-producing domain and a genteel profession that required advanced training. Despite public claims for its medical utility, late-Victorian experimental physiology (in contrast with other disciplines, such as bacteriology) actually produced few findings of immediate clinical application, as Claude Bernard himself would acknowledge (Richards 125). (16)

Pro-vivisectionists sought to secure the ethical boundary evolutionary theory opened. In 1882, physiologist William Carpenter, who elsewhere acknowledges vivisection as a moral "grey" area (237) and condemns the "needless cruelties" of his French counterparts (240), nonetheless insists, in particular reference to dogs and cats, that "the narrow limitation and unprogressive range of the moral nature of animals justify a corresponding limitation of their moral rights, as compared with those of beings of unlimited capacity for progressive elevation" (242, emphasis in original). Carpenter here betrays an anxious awareness of how antivivisectionists such as Frances Power Cobbe appealed to evolutionary theory, as when, during the first major public debates in 1875, she argues,
it is the boast of the school of science to which they [physiologists
who practice vivisection] belong that it has exploded the old theory
that man was unique in creation, with a higher origin than the brutes,
and a different destiny... To find a number of men of
science--disciples, it is believed, of Evolution--themselves pursuing,
and teaching their pupils to pursue, trains of physiological
investigations involving unutterable suffering to these same 'Poor
Relations' of our human family, is an appalling phenomenon. (8-9)


Despite Darwin's acceptance of vivisection for the acquisition of physiological knowledge, Cobbe's arguments are better supported by his published oeuvre than Carpenter's are: Darwin avers that "every one who admits the principle of evolution, must see that the mental powers of the higher animals, which are the same in kind with those of man, though so different in degree, are capable of advancement" (Descent of Man 246) and that all social animals, such as dogs, possess some rudimentary capacity for sympathy and conscience, which benefit group survival (Descent of Man 247). The potential for vivisection to damage human sympathy and halt moral progress was central to Cobbe's argument against it (5-6). Victorian physiologists might make distinctions between human and nonhuman expressions of emotion, but if, like Carpenter, they claimed immutable differences of developmental potential between homo sapiens and all other species, they found themselves on shaky theoretical ground.

This inherent ethical conundrum--that the utility of vivisection can only be rationalized through a theoretical doctrine that presumes moral, as well as structural, similarity between humans and the nonhuman animals--explains in part why vivisection, and animal experimentation generally, tends to provoke stronger negative emotional responses than do other uses of animals.

The problem of what relation between human and animal vivisection entails is poignantly engaged in picture form by "Vivisection," an 1883 mezzotint produced in London by C. J. Tompkins after a painting by J. McLure Hamilton (Fig. 1). On the left-hand side of the image, a small, rough-coated terrier dog sits on a countertop, surrounded by medical instruments including scalpels and a microscope, next to the carcass of a songbird. On the right-hand side of the image, we see the back torso and part of the profile of a bespectacled, middle-aged man. His right hand, concealed behind his back, holds a bottle such as would contain the chloroform used to immobilize vivisection subjects. Behind him are multiple volumes, one with pages spread open, and no colleagues are present; the setting suggests the private enthusiast learning from guidebooks and not the professional teaching hospital, thereby removing the ethical questions of vivisection from any context of direct practical benefit. We do not see the man's expression--we must guess if he feels a momentary pang of compassion and doubt, or if he is lost in intellectual contemplation of the experiments he will undertake. But his sightline and the dog's clearly meet. The dog's pose is striking: he is rocked up on his haunches, forepaws together, gaze meeting the man's, in a gesture uncannily suggestive of human prayer, but not one unrealistic to canine anatomy; indeed, those familiar with little terrier dogs may recognize it as common. The dog's pose is not simply anthropomorphized by the artist; it implies the dog has been taught to "beg" or "sit pretty" by a previous owner, and thus suggests he is a former pet that has developed social relations of trust, nurture, and, crucially, communication with humans.

While sentimental, and calculated to arouse sympathetic indignation from viewers, the image encapsulates a problem central to the vivisection debate: arguing pro- or anti- obliged partisans, for strategic purposes, to impose oppositional binaries upon categories more accurately understood as a spectrum. The polarized public debate over vivisection not only falsely implied equal utility for all physiological research; it obscured differences of consciousness among animals. The debate flattened variations among creatures whose typical relation to humans was of food or vermin, and those that commonly engaged in amiable partnerships with humans and mastered rudiments of cross-species communication. The dog is different from the human whose gaze he meets, but he is also different from the wild bird that was the subject of a previous experiment. The picture leaves open the possibility that in unexpectedly meeting the gaze of the dog, the vivisector is experiencing a moment of empathy, imagining the dog's perspective, and questioning the necessity of his own endeavor.

Works of art offered the Victorians a space to recognize uncomfortable ambiguities that policy debates sidestepped. Images like this mezzotint, and novels like The Island of Doctor Moreau, prompt imaginative engagement with the process, as well as the ethical precepts and research outcomes, of vivisection practice. The mainstream Victorian animal welfare movement (exemplified by the RSPCA) came to condone some animal experimentation in the service of advancing practical knowledge (Ritvo 165). The quintessentially English good of public utility was the rubric under which Victorians justified the unpalatable business of vivisection. In Wells's science-fictional parable, foreign Moreau flouts the rationale, threatening to expose the entire scientific project of vivisection as un-English and unethical. In this novel, efforts to force a distinction between animal and human, and between English rationality and foreign brutality, ultimately expose confusion of categories.

IV. Re-membering Difference

The body in pain, threatened with death, becomes the ground for this contestation. Historian James Turner identifies our fixation on alleviating and concern with inflicting bodily pain as a "modern sensibility" (80), crystalized in the nineteenth century by increasing medical skill at pain relief and decreasing religious faith in the spiritual value of suffering (79-80). The shared human and animal capacity for pain, he argues, was central to the birth of antivivisection discourse. We elevate humans above animal life based upon positive capacities, but the ability to suffer, which Derrida calls "a possibility without power" (396), binds us to them. As Oliver observes, "Embodied vulnerability... is what we share with animals and also what limits our own sovereignty and autonomy" {Animal Lessons 46). Drawing upon the interventions of Derrida and Oliver, Elisabeth Arnould-Bloomfield has argued, "because the experience of pain is always that of being affected by the otherness of my (or another's) body, it unsettles my humanity and opens me to the outside, to the animality of my death" (1469). In The Island of Doctor Moreau the pain of the animal Other discomfits not, principally, through conscious connection with another being's unique suffering, but rather through horrified recognition of the self in the Other, cognizance of a shared capacity for pain that threatens rationality and, carried to the final extreme of death, extinguishes selfhood. We see this first in Prendick's response to the cries of the vivisected puma, the "emotional appeal" of which drives him out of his lodging in Moreau's compound: "It was as if all the pain in the world had found a voice. Yet had I known such pain was in the next room, and had it been dumb, I believe--I have thought since--I could have stood it well enough. It is when suffering finds a voice and sets our nerves quivering that this pity comes troubling us" (97). Prendick's ethical response is contingent upon a physiological one. His nerves quiver in reciprocal vibration with those of the suffering puma, not because he understands that she is a fellow creature in agony, but because his body instinctively responds to stimuli that communicate the destruction of a similar body in close proximity. His moral revulsion from Moreau's experiments comes after. Within the world of this novel, ethical action is impossible without visceral response to another's pain. Empathy pertains to bestial embodiment, not rational discourse, and thereby is as mutable as any other aspect of evolutionary biology.

At a key crisis in the novel, Prendick decisively places the claims of the animal body above scientific practice and the rational authority it purportedly represents. Following the apprehension of the Leopard-man for breaking Moreau's civilizing Law by hunting and consuming rabbits, Prendick's spontaneous trans-species empathy for the vivisection subject solidifies into conscious sympathy and, ultimately, an act of compassionate killing. Rohman productively reads this scene as a reversal of typical human abjection and repression of the animal within (75), but considering also the animal without--the laboratory subject Prendick confronts--adds another layer of complication. Aided by his more compliant creations, Moreau seeks to return the offender to the "House of Pain" (142), as the Beast-Men term the laboratory. After an attack "that only the madness of unendurable fear could have prompted" (142), the Leopard-man flees, and it is Prendick who soon thereafter finds the creature, "crouched together into the smallest possible compass, his luminous green eyes turned over his shoulder regarding me" (144), a distinctly feline pose of self-concealment. This revelation of the animal within the forcibly anthropomorphized creature provokes Prendick's moment of connection:
It may seem a strange contradiction in me--I cannot explain the
fact--but now, seeing the creature there in a perfectly animal
attitude, with the light gleaming in its eyes and its imperfectly human
face distorted with terror, I realised again the fact of its humanity.
In another moment other of its pursuers would see it, and it would be
overpowered and captured, to experience once more the horrible tortures
of the enclosure. Abruptly I whipped out my revolver, aimed between its
terror-struck eyes, and fired. (144)


Prendick's action here is decisive, but it is not, as he will later claim to Moreau, merely "the impulse of a moment" (144). Unlike the Leopard-man's attack on Moreau, which is irrational and motivated by fear, Prendick's gunshot is a logical though sudden choice: he no longer believes the ends of Moreau's experimentation justify the means of subjecting this sentient being to pain and terror, and he acts to end the creature's bodily and mental suffering in the only way he can. In contrast to Hannah Wolfe's response to the chemically modified pigs with which I opened my inquiry, Prendick is moved to act on behalf of the nonhuman animal; his empathy takes the further steps of sympathetic identification and compassionate response. Prendick's recognition of the creature's simultaneous similarity and Otherness is key. In seeing the "imperfectly human face" upon a body contorted by distinctly animal fear, Prendick recognizes what Giorgio Agamben terms "the precariousness of the human" (30): a ceaseless and quotidian struggle to overcome the animality within (79), which in fact constitutes humanity through "the incongruity of these two elements," "a body and a soul, a living thing and a logos, a natural (or animal) element and a supernatural or social or divine element" (16). It is exactly this ongoing, painful effort to overcome inescapable bestial needs and the final animality of death that defines humanity, and in recognizing that the leopard is striving and failing to become a man, Prendick affirms his common ground with the creature. Insisting that he cannot explain why this moment enabled him to recognize the Leopard-man's essential "humanity," and repeatedly calling the creature "it" which just a few lines earlier he described in masculine pronouns, Prendick resists conscious recognition of the animality within himself. Yet the context of shared threat and incipient cruelty quickens empathy to compassionate action. In ending the Leopard-man's life in order to end the creature's unbearable pain, Prendick demonstrates that he has come to believe this experimental subject's perspective has its own value, apart from any instrumental value its existence may have to the researcher.

The language of scientific discovery, argumentation, and regulation, so prominent in the narrator-protagonist's earliest introduction of Moreau's research, has been replaced here with a focus on the embodied affective suffering upon which the progress of Victorian physiology implicitly depended. Prendick's initial response to Moreau was shaped by his awed youthful memories of the scientist's intellectual reputation: the "masterful physiologist" renowned for his "extraordinary imagination and his brutal directness in discussion" (93). Moreau, Prendick reports, "had published some very astonishing facts in connection with the transfusion of blood, and in addition was known to be doing valuable work on morbid growths" (94). The scientist's qualities of mind are described without consideration of the material means--the cutting of living and aware bodies--by which his insights and arguments take shape. Behind the vague and neutral term "work," which seems to encompass both knowledge and the process for acquiring it, vivisection is concealed. Prendick's verbal excision of animal experience from this description anticipates modern scientific discourse, which, according to sociological study, "consistently minimizes reference to animal husbandry and potential suffering" (Birke et al 44). In describing Moreau's journalistic exposure and subsequent stigmatization, Prendick had focused on the deceit of the lab assistant who betrayed his research mentor and the "shameful" "tepid support of his fellow-investigators" (94), not the felt pain of dogs subjected to "experiments" Prendick concedes may have been "wantonly cruel" (94). Prendick's response to the Leopard-man's plight, characterized by intense awareness of another being's pain that prompts moral action, shows a radical transformation from his earlier focus on the intellectual advances of experimental physiology and its social relations of professional solidarity.

Moreau rejects "sympathetic pain" (127); Prendick comes to acknowledge it as necessary to ethical action even if antithetical to the practice of biological research. Vivisection debates in the second half of the nineteenth century posited shared bodily vulnerability as a point of connection across species. In the final self-isolation of gentleman scientist Edward Prendick, sole survivor of Moreau's colony, Wells registers a late-Victorian crisis of faith in the value of scientific knowledge production and the elevating potential of empathy across boundaries. Prendick's recognition of the visceral basis of ethical action leaves him mistrustful of human governance, social norms, and the possibility of developing empathy into conscious, sustained, altruistic sympathy. He perceives empathy as dependent upon profoundly malleable and hence unstable embodied experience.

While Prendick survives Moreau's island, his connection to other humans, and sense of his own humanity, are permanently scarred. In his homeland, he remains possessed by "restless fear as a half-tamed lion cub may feel" (172). Consciously he reassures himself that "these seeming men and women about me are indeed men and women, men and women forever, perfectly reasonable creatures" (173), but when he passes them on the street, they transmute before his eyes into Beast-folk: "prowling women would mew after me; furtive, craving men glance jealously at me; weary, pale workers go coughing by me with tired eyes and eager paces, like wounded deer dripping blood" (173). Darwin's assertion that "species are not immutable" (Origin of Species 97) takes on nightmarish immediacy in Prendick's transformative delusions. He not only fears a transition of humans into animals, but characterizes his own fear as that of a wild animal imperfectly tamed. His exposure to creatures that amalgamate his known categories, and witness of their evolutionary reversion, that of Moreau's research assistant Montgomery and, to some extent, his own, has destroyed his faith in the orderly progress of human civilization. Prendick self-isolates in a rural estate where, tellingly, he turns his intellectual interest from biology, with its dynamic variation, to chemistry and astronomy, anchored in permanent, predictable elements (174). Chemistry also allows him to avoid experimentation on living subjects. Victorian scientists--and potential consumers of the products and treatments their research enabled--lacked the affective mediation that contemporary figurations of lab-animal-as-helper provide. Neither Prendick nor Moreau participate in the discourse of "sacrifice" that allows modern laboratory workers to both acknowledge an animal's pain and make peace with their role in it. Likewise, Wells's fin de siecle characters precede the advent of alienated factory-farm consumerism, such as prevents Hannah Wolfe, the late-twentieth-century detective from the example that opens my analysis, from "imagin[ing] people rather than animals in similar conditions" when confronting pigs "crammed together" in "concrete compartments with heavy galvanized iron gates" (97). (18) Following her unsettling experience with the pigs, Hannah returns, not substantially changed, to her previous lifestyle. In the juxtaposition of Edward Prendick's and Hannah Wolfe's responses to a visceral encounter with the suffering of experimental animals, we see a fictional representation of how more than a century of vivisection discourses and practices have, on the whole, redirected human-animal empathy away from individual encounters and toward broader populations. Such compartmentalization both registers and manages anxiety about the unstable human-animal boundary.

Darwin's theory of natural selection undermined easy mid-Victorian confidence in British "racial" superiority and aristocratic class dominance. The century closed with diminution of military dominance abroad and labor agitation at home, signaling the erosion of established hierarchies. Vivisection, as a technology of evolutionary physiology, became a flash point for anxieties about the permeability of classificatory boundaries and the instability of hierarchies. Indeed, anti-vivisectionists predicated their arguments on the premise that vivisection embruted its practitioners by destroying their capacity to empathize. Debates surrounding the ethical ramifications of vivisection, which Wells's novel engages and exemplifies, capture its paradox: the practice is at once intellectually rationalized by human-animal similarity and ethically predicated upon human-animal difference. The Island of Doctor Moreau portrays attempts to control the social order through brutal dis-ordering of vulnerable bodies, through vivisection and through punitive violence. But assertions of violent dominance provoke unruly bodies to unpredictable consequences. Although the novel participates in a cultural dialogue that capitalized on evolutionary theory to police socioeconomic and national boundaries, within its imagined world affirmations of difference, superiority, and boundary coherence collapse into their opposite. By grounding empathy in instinctive physiological reflex rather than reason, The Island of Doctor Moreau undermines humanity's claim to moral superiority over animals, and thereby calls into question the validity of conventional classificatory systems.

Empathy entails a recognition of the Other as another self with its own valid world, capable of responsive relation to one's own self. Trans-species empathy, then, requires the recognition of both difference and kinship in animals. Such a recognition at once de-centers the human and obliges us to perceive points of similarity and shared interest between species. If unsettling in our contemporary culture, amid the post-human philosophical turn, it was radically more so in the late-Victorian era, for a British population seeking to maintain the increasingly fragile hierarchies of race, class, and gender on which the imperial economy and political system depended. Fiction such as The Island of Doctor Moreau provided a public space beyond polarized debates in which to acknowledge difficult ambiguities, speculate upon feared practical outcomes of promising intellectual discoveries, and begin to recognize the ethical implications of biological interconnectedness.

FURMAN UNIVERSITY

NOTES

The author would like to thank Sally Cannon and Jeanne Provost for productive conversations about this work in progress. She would also like to thank the anonymous reviewer for invaluable feedback.

(1) Historian Mary Ann Elston asserts, "An organised movement against vivisection began in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It was a more powerful movement then than at any time since, until the mid-1970s" (262-63).

(2) In his account of the transformative impact of Darwinian thought on Victorian understandings of sympathy, historian Rob Boddice has recently argued that "the character of the nation" was the primary concern within the vivisection debates of the second half of the nineteenth century in Britain. The fear was that Continental attitudes and practices, which were understood to pursue professional attainment without any public feeling for suffering, would be detrimental to an English scientific character believed to be uniquely sympathetic (54).

(3) Multiple readings from the first decade of the twenty-first century position Wells's novel within its surrounding scientific discourse. Mason Harris (2002) offers the first extended critical discussion of The Island of Doctor Moreau through the lens of vivisection, arguing that Wells's invocation of antivivisection tropes undermines scientific authority (101). Christine Ferguson (2006) suggests Moreau's vivisection disturbs fin de siecle readers because it imagines language, an accepted indicator of species sophistication, to be a function of physiological structures that scientists might replicate, and that by implication, creatures other than humans might someday possess. Moreau's experiments posit "the larynx, not the brain or the soul, [as] the source of human intellect" (Ferguson 124). Laura Otis (2007) explores how Wells's novel revisits physiologist David Ferrier's 1882 cruelty trial and "encourages readers to question the motives, methods, and value of physiological research" (42).

(4) In "Victorian Chimeras, or What Literature Can Do for Genetics Policy Today" (2007) Jay Clayton considers the implications of Moreau's creations for modern genetic engineering and humanities-science dialogue on research ethics. In "The Future Will Have Been Animal: Dr. Moreau and the Aesthetics of Monstrosity" (2012) Chris Danta likewise reads the novel in relation to ethical consequences of "chimeras," or genetically spliced hybrids.

(5) As Oliver posits, empathetic connection with another consciousness is essential to the maintenance of stable self-identity: "without an external witness, we cannot develop or sustain the internal witness necessary for the ability to interpret and represent our experience" (88).

(6) See Boddice, especially 74-76.

(7) Eulogizing Koko the gorilla, Bill Chappell quotes documentarian Barbara J. King's anecdote: "Famously, Koko felt quite sad in 1984 when her adopted kitten Ball was hit by a car and died. How do we know? Here is nonhuman primate grief mediated through language: In historical footage in the film, Patterson is seen asking Koko, 'What happened to Ball?' In reply, Koko utters these signs in sequence: cat, cry, have-sorry, Koko-love. And then, after a pause, two more signs: unattention, visit me."'

(8) On standardization, transgenic modification, and commodification of lab animals, see Birke et al, 21-33 and 46-54.

(9) On detective fiction and the vivisection debates, see Christopher Pittard, especially "Animal Voices: Catherine Louisa Pirkis' The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective and the Crimes of Animality" (2018).

(10) Martha Nussbaum observes that while animals do not possess such complex and developed sympathetic capacities as humans, they also lack the unique "failures of compassion" (140) and "corruptions of sympathy" (142) that characterize human society. Notably, while the Beast-Men readily kill for food, to maintain dominance in the group, or to lash out at a perceived or actual aggressor, their acts of violence have always the goal of immediately dispatching or subduing the target; they never engage in behavior that would cause prolonged physical pain or mental anxiety. This can be favorably contrasted not only with Moreau's vivisection (and deployment of threats of renewed vivisection) but also with the schooner captain's tormenting of the helpless Prendick.

(11) Harris notes the parallel between Moreau and Bernard, reading it for significance in fin de siecle debates between religion and science (102-04).

(12) Colin Milburn's analysis of fin de siecle British discourse around vivisection suggests, "Experimental physiology created a way of seeing the bleeding body as a medium, whereupon every cut becomes an extension of a scientific system of inscription, a sedation of legible meanings.... Vivisection makes meaning take place on the wounded body: pain becomes legible, torture signifies, and wounds are writing" (143).

(13) See Boddicc, 92-95.

(14) A. W. H. Bates comments that doctors who opposed vivisection were likelier to make public statements than those who supported it, as the lay population was anxious that vivisection practice destroyed the sympathy and compassion patients sought in their physicians, thus openly pro-vivisection doctors might lose business (21).

(15) See Boddicc, especially a succinct overview of this transformation on pp. 3-12.

(16) The question of how much vivisection (i.e., the dissection of living animals, not animal experimentation more broadly) has practically benefited everyday medical practice is central to the Victorian debates 1 examine, but its answer is beyond the scope of my own inquiry. It bears mention that experiments by the notorious French physiologist Francois Magendic (1783-1855) and by his British counterpart J. Marshall Hall (1790-1857) substantially advanced understanding of the nervous system (Gucrrini 72-74, 77-78); the earlier British discoveries of William Harvey (1578-1657) concerning circulation of blood and of John Hunter (1728-1793) regarding aneurysms are widely accepted as important medical knowledge gained through vivisection (Bates 24). However, regarding more recent history, as A. W. H. Bates, a practicing pathologist as well as fellow of the Oxford Center for Animal Ethics, reflects in 2017, "Since vivisection has been normative, or even compulsory, in laboratories for over a century, it has necessarily played a part in most of the important discoveries made during that time, but whether they would have been made without it is as difficult to answer as any question in hypothetical history" (4).

(17) See Turner, "5: Revolting to the Cultivated Mind."

(18) On construction of lab animals as partners in research, see Birke et al, 67-69. On the discourse of "sacrificing" lab animals, sec 99-101.

WORKS CITED

Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Man and Animal. Trans. Kevin Attell. Stanford UP, 2004.

Arnould-Bloomfield, Elisabeth. "Posthuman Compassions." PMLA 130.5 (2015): 1467-75.

Bates, A. W. H. Anti-Vivisection and the Profession of Medicine in Britain: A Social History. London: Palgravc MacMillan, 2017.

Bernard, Claude. An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine. 1865. Trans. Henry Copley Green. Dover, 1957.

Birke, Lynda, Arnold Arluke, and Mike Michael. The Sacrifice: How Scientific Experiments Transform Animals and People. West Lafayette: Purdue UP, 2006.

Boddice. Rob. The Science of Sympathy: Morality, Evolution, and Victorian Civilization. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2016.

Buell, Lawrence. Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U.S. and Beyond. Cambridge: Belknap P of Harvard UP, 2001.

Carpenter, Benjamin. "The Ethics of Vivisection." London, 1882. 237-46. Web. UK Medical Heritage Library, https://archive.org. Accessed 23 June 2018.

Chappell, Bill. "Koko the Gorilla Dies; Redrew Lines of Human-Animal Communication." 15 June 2018. Web. npr.org. Accessed 21 June 2018.

Cobbe, Frances Power. The Moral Aspects of Vivisection. London: Williams and Norgate, 1875. Web. UK Medical Heritage Library, https://archive.org. Accessed 15 June 2018.

Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. 1871. Darwin: Texts and Commentary. New York: Norton, 2001.

--. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. 1859. Darwin: Texts and Commentary. New York: Norton, 2001.

Derrida, Jacques. "The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)." Trans. David Wills. Critical Inquiry 28 (2002): 369-418.

Dunant, Sarah. Fatlands. 1993. New York: Scribner, 2004.

Elston, Mary Ann. "Women and Anti-vivisection in Victorian England, 1870-1900." Vivisection in Historical Perspective. Ed. Nicolaas A. Rupke. New York: Routlcdgc, 1987. 259-94.

Ferguson, Christine. Language, Science, and Popular Fiction at the Fin De Siecle: The Brutal Tongue. Aldershot: Ashgatc, 2006.

Guerrini, Anita. Experimenting with Humans and Animals: From Galen to Animal Rights. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2003.

Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2008.

Harris, Mason. "Vivisection, the Culture of Science, and Intellectual Uncertainty in The Island of Doctor Moreau." Gothic Studies 4.2 (2002): 99-115.

Hcndershot, Cyndy. "The Animal Without: Masculinity and Imperialism in The Island of Doctor Moreau and 'The Adventure of the Speckled Band'." Nineteenth-Century Studies 10.1 (1996): 1-32.

Hobson-Wcst, Pru. "Ethical Boundary-work in the Animal Research Laboratory." Sociology 46.1 (2012): 649-63.

Hurley, Kelly. The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism, and Degeneration at the Fin de Siecle. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.

Mayer, Jed. "The Expression of Emotions in Man and Laboratory Animals." Victorian Studies 50.3(2008): 399-417.

Milbum, Colin. "Science From Hell: Jack the Ripper and Victorian Vivisection." Science Images and Popular Images of the Sciences. Ed. Bernd Hiippauf and Peter Wcingart. New York: Routledge, 2008. 125-57.

Ngai, Siannc. Ugly Feelings. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2005.

Nussbaum, Martha. "Compassion: Human and Animal." Species Matters: Humane Advocacy and Cultural Theory. Ed. Marianne DcKoven and Michael Lundblad. New York: Columbia UP, 2012. 139-72.

Oliver, Kelly. Animal Lessons: How They Teach Us to Be Human. New York: Columbia UP, 2009.

--. Witnessing: Beyond Recognition. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2001.

Otis, Laura. "Howled Out of the Country: Wilkic Collins and H.G. Wells Retry David Ferricr." Neurology and Literature, 1860-1920. Ed. Anne Stiles. Palgravc, 2007. 27-51.

Richards, Stewart. "Vicarious Suffering, Necessary Pain: Physiological Method in Late Nineteenth-century Britain." Vivisection in Historical Perspective. Ed. Nicolaas A. Rupke. New York: Routlcdgc, 1987. 125-48.

Ritvo, Harriet. The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1987.

Rohman, Carrie. Stalking the Subject: Modernism and the Animal. New York: Columbia UP, 2009.

Rupke, Nicolaas. "Pro-vivisection in England in the Early 1880s: Arguments and Motives." Vivisection in Historical Perspective. Ed. Nicolaas A. Rupke. New York: Routledge, 1987. 188-208.

"Suppression of Vivisection in France." The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 30 Oct. 1861: 1.

Tomkins, C. J. Vivisection. 1883. Science Museum Group Collection, London. Web. https://collcction.scienccmuseumgroup.org.uk/objccts/co67302. Accessed 9 June 2018.

Turner, James. Reckoning with the Beast: Animals, Pain, and Humanity in the Victorian Mind. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980.

"Vivisection and Cruelty to Animals." The Morning Post London 12 Aug. 1862: 5.

Wells, H.G. 1896. The Island of Doctor Moreau. Peterborough: Broadview Editions, 2009.

White, Paul. "Sympathy under the Knife: Experimentation and Emotion in Late Victorian Medicine." Medicine, Emotion, and Disease, 1700-1950. Ed. Fay Bound Albcrti. Basingstoke: Palgravc, 2006. 100-24.
COPYRIGHT 2019 Johns Hopkins University Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2019 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Braun, Gretchen
Publication:Studies in the Novel
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Dec 22, 2019
Words:11025
Previous Article:TOM BECAME WHAT HE OUGHT TO BE: MANSFIELD PARKAS HOMOSOCIAL BILDUNGSROMAN.
Next Article:HUMBERT HUMBERT AS MAD MAN: ART AND ADVERTISING IN LOLITA.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters