Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Bruce Kawin

Abstract

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution revealed a profound interconnection among all life forms. Species could no longer be thought of as discreet and static entities separate from other life forms or the environment they inhabit. As such, the advent of evolutionary theory marked an important moment in the history of ecological thinking, as people were forced to consider their biological connection to each and every life form. In The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), H. G. Wells presents an imaginative rendering of the implications of evolutionary theory. He describes a world where the boundaries separating humans, animals, and the environment become permeable. The novel’s engagement with evolutionary theory effectively deconstructs an essentialist conception of identity, demonstrating how our biological connection to other life forms alters the way we think about ourselves and the planet. In this way, The Island of Dr. Moreau proves an important text for considering the profound shift in perspective that is required to think in a truly ecological manner.

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