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wriggle in the dust Options
vkhu
Posted: Saturday, September 23, 2017 12:12:09 PM
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Quote:
This store which men and women set on pleasure and pain, Prendick, is the mark of the beast upon them,—the mark of the beast from which they came! Pain, pain and pleasure, they are for us only so long as we wriggle in the dust.

-The Island of Doctor Moreau


I couldn't find the idiom wriggle in the dust any where. What does it mean?
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Saturday, September 23, 2017 1:07:41 PM

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Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
It is not an idiom, wriggle is the action of rolling and writhing.

Wriggling in the dust is something that animals do due to their instinctive behaviour, and also respond to other things like pleasure and pain instinctively but humans in the opnion of Dr Moreau should learn to control themselves and not behave in that manner.


I lack the imagination for a witty signature.
mactoria
Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2017 2:25:03 AM
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Agree with Sarriesfan that "wriggle in the dust" is not an idiom or recognized saying, just the author's choice of words. However, I think it's referring to a human's life, as it's preceded by "are for us only so long as we." Thus, I think the author is metaphorically saying pain and pleasure only exist for a human as long as he is alive on earth/dirt. The rest of Dr Moreau uses a lot of metaphorical and/or flowery language for certain characters like Pendick, so that's why I think this phrase is meant as a metaphor for life.
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2017 4:06:01 AM

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Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
mactoria wrote:
Agree with Sarriesfan that "wriggle in the dust" is not an idiom or recognized saying, just the author's choice of words. However, I think it's referring to a human's life, as it's preceded by "are for us only so long as we." Thus, I think the author is metaphorically saying pain and pleasure only exist for a human as long as he is alive on earth/dirt. The rest of Dr Moreau uses a lot of metaphorical and/or flowery language for certain characters like Pendick, so that's why I think this phrase is meant as a metaphor for life.


I would agree with you that is one interpretation of what Dr Moreau is saying, but I think that my interpretation fits the characters philosophy better, he is obsessed with improving humanity.

I lack the imagination for a witty signature.
Romany
Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2017 4:15:21 AM
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Which kinds of animals "wriggle"? A dog, an elephant, a rhinoceros etc. may "roll" in the dust but they don't 'wriggle' in it.

The only creatures who wriggle are those with no legs, whose bellies are on the ground: worms and snakes. Thus they are, in spacial terms "the lowest" of all.

So: he's saying that those whose lives revolve around pleasure and pain are the "lowest of the low" in terms of evolution: they are mindless, wriggling things in the dust under our feet.
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