For example, in a scene in Well’s novel, Island of Dr Moreau (1896), the protagonist, Prendick is running away from Dr. Moreau and his assistant. The protagonist believes mistakenly that he is in danger of being vivisected and turned into one of the Beast Men. Eventually, he is cornered and makes an impassioned plea to the Beast Men, who also take part in the pursuit under the Doctor’s leadership: “You who listen! Do you not see these men still fear you, go in dread of you? Why, then, do you fear them? You are many—” (1, Chapter 13). The sentence is never finished, but I hypothesize the unsaid but implied end of it.
There is a poem,“The Masque of Anarchy”(2), by a romantic poet, P. Shelley, the husband of Frankenstein’s author, which ends:
Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!”
The poem is dedicated to the victims of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819 and written in the same year. About 60 000 people gathered for a peaceful protest at St Peter’s Field, Manchester demanding universal voting rights. They were attacked by the cavalry and at least 15 people died, 400 were injured. The riot was named after the anti-Napoleonic victory, Battle of Waterloo.
Therefore, despite their strange appearance and habits, Prendick is appealing to the universal humanity of the Beast Men. As a potential victim, he feels more in common with strange creatures than with two Englishmen in charge of them. The coming XX century will see the expansion of universal human rights in the former British Empire from white men of property to white women and non-white people. Including when the rights were not given but taken by “many” from “few”.
In fact, as I was surprised to discover that after the Peterloo Massacre proudly anti-revolutionary Britain was as close to a revolution as it would ever be. The government presided over by the anti-reformist, pro-landowner Duke of Wellington of the Waterloo fame, gave in in the end and implemented the voting reform.
P.S. A movie “We Are Many“ about anti-Iraqui war protests shows that the image of them and us, them in charge, us in the right and saying about it, is popular 200 years later
1) G.H. Wells — The Island of Dr. Moreau,
2) P.B. Shelley — The Masque of Anarchy