The nephew of the protagonist, he offers an introduction to the text that gives various "factual" details intended to help the reader suspend his disbelief. He explains that he found the manuscript (the book itself) among his uncle's effects following Prendick's death and funeral.
The narrator and protagonist, Edward Prendick is a member of the upper class. As a refined and educated man (he, like Moreau, has studied biology, although only on a whim), he feels quite out of place on Moreau's island. His reactions to the Beast Men are especially significant, and as his ability to distinguish between them and their intended model of humanity waxes and wanes, Wells forces the reader to question the distinction between men and animals. His initial friendship with Montgomery, which later devolves into something closer to pity, is also reflective of Wells's central theme. He serves as the extension of the reader into the text--we experience the events and characters solely through his eyes and actions.
The cool, commanding god-figure of the novel, Moreau represents a harsh and unfeeling Creator who relishes the process and cares nothing for the creations themselves. He ships animals to his island in order to vivisect them, working on their minds and bodies with the goal of turning his animals into men. Once he has completed his work on one subject, he turns it loose to join its fellows living in the island jungle. An exceedingly intelligent man, he had worked in his lab in London for nine years until a journalist masqueraded as an assistant and exposed him. There was a public outcry, and he was exiled to what later became his island. When Prendick arrives, Moreau has been on the island for eleven years and has created about one hundred twenty Beast Men, a little more than sixty of which survive. Sardonic, intense, and assured, he keeps the unstable island community functioning.
As Moreau's assistant, he is the intermediary between man and Beast Man. He is especially close to his servant, the Dog Man named M'ling, but he has an obvious fondness for all the Beast Men. A medical man, he studied biology in England and enjoyed a measure of happiness until, as he vaguely puts it, he "lost [his] head for ten minutes on a foggy night." Whatever happened, he ended up working for Moreau on his island, and although he now considers himself unfit to live normally among men, he longs for the London of his past. Montgomery is fairly dependable, but his taste for brandy often undermines his reason. He is also the closest thing to a friend that Prendick has, despite the distance created by Montgomery's alcohol and affinity for the Beast Men. It is in fact the liquor which is his final end--a misguided attempt to allow the Beast Men to join in his revelry ends in an unexplained scene that involves his death as well as that of several Beast Men.
M'ling, Montgomery's assistant, was created by Moreau using a bear, dog, and ox. He is Prendick's first exposure to the Beast Men, and Prendick immediately detects something familiar in his grotesqueness, although he does not recognize it as canine influence. In keeping with the fidelity attributed to his animal of origin, M'ling is entirely devoted to Montgomery, and he is one of the few Beast Men on Montgomery's side when the rest begin their uprising.
The Captain (John Davis)
The captain of the Ipecacuanha (the ship that first rescues Prendick) is a drunken brute with a tendency to swear violently. The reader learns his name only through Charles Edward Prendick's introduction, since Prendick simply refers to him in the rest of the story as "the captain." He has agreed to take Montgomery and the animals from Africa to the island, but by the time Prendick comes aboard he greatly regrets his decision and wishes to deposit his passengers as soon as possible. Belligerent and cruel, he would rather cast Prendick back into the ocean than take him past Moreau's island, and soon enough he does just that.
The Leopard Man
One of the more brutish Beast Men, he stalks Prendick on his first exploration of the island. He is a regular transgressor of the Law, and when he is finally confronted by Moreau, he attacks and runs. At the conclusion of the chase, Prendick shoots him to prevent Moreau from taking the creature back to his operating table as punishment.
The Sayer of the Law
A silvery, grey-haired creature of uncertain animal origin, this is the makeshift patriarch of the Beast Men. He is the authority on the Law, which is a long list of prohibitions created by Moreau to repress the animalism in his creations. He is in most respects a peaceful creature, although he dies in an unexplained conflict with Montgomery.
An aggressive Beast Man akin to the Leopard Man, the Hyena-Swine is the greatest threat to Prendick following the Leopard Man's death. Constantly doubting the authority of the Men with Whips and disregarding the injunctions of the Law, he is one of the first to revolt. Prendick kills him in self-defense late in the novel, although he admits that he would have killed him earlier anyway if he had had the chance.
The Beast Folk
The unfortunate results of Moreau's insatiable scientific enterprise, these travesties of humanity struggle to rationalize their projected humanity with their deeper, more appropriate bestial impulses. Bound by the Law, they are constantly striving for an ideal they cannot hope to attain, and they live in a perpetual guilt they do not deserve. They are the tragic figures of the novel, and even in their revolt they are pitiful.
The Island of Dr. Moreau Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Island of Dr. Moreau is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
They seemed to me then to be brown men; but their limbs were oddly swathed in some thin, dirty, white stuff down even to the fingers and feet: I have never seen men so wrapped up before, and women so only in the East. They wore...