The invisible man

a novel by



One wintry, cold and snowy February day Griffin arrives at the Coach and Horses Inn in Iping. The hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Hall, who are the owner of this inn, is absolutely great. But something seems to be very strange for them because Griffin doesn’t want to take off his clothes. Only his nose could be seen by other people.
He tells that he was an experimental investigator and that he has had an accident and uses this as a reason for non taking of his clothes. People think that Griffin is a very strange person. At the Iping Hangar tavern Fearnside remarks to Teddy Henfrey that the strange guest at the inn must be black since there was only blackness where his dog has bitten the fellow, nothing that even looked like skin. Another odd thing is the luggage of the stranger. When the first crate is brought into the parlor, the stranger sets upon it avidly, emptying it of the various shaped bottles it contains and scattering the straw about the floor. He maintains this pace until six cases are emptied of a great abundance of bottles.
In the still hours before dawn on Whit Monday, the vicarage is burglarised. Rev. Mr. Bunting can not see a visible invader and is not able to catch the thief. Very early on Whit Monday Mr. and Mrs. Hall discover the room of the stranger to be empty and the only clothes the guest is known to possess are scattered about. Once in the room, incredible things occur. Bedclothes, the stranger’s hat, a chair and other objects go flying through the air.
At about half past five in the morning Griffin enters the parlor of the Coach and Horses Inn. With the news of a burglary at the vicarage he is immediately suspected. Mrs. Hall raves that there were some things which the experimental investigator should explain. Suddenly the stranger shows his invisibility. The invisible man is now a hunted creature. The invisible man’s sanctuary in the inn is gone, and he has been driven out of doors like a wild beast. There will be a little, if any, rest or peace for him from now on.
Next he meets Mr. Thomas Marvel who is a bachelor and something of a tramp. He promises to do everything what Griffin wants him to do. Mr. Marvel visits the little town Iping. When Mr. Huxter first spies the curious Mr. Marvel near the inn, Cuss and Rev. Mr. Bunting are in the parlor of that establishment closely examining the invisible man’s possession.

Some of the invisible man’s notebooks are written in Greek. As a result of this Griffin loses his temper and gets very angry. It is important to note here that the invisible man has now turned on humanity.
On the following morning Mr. Marvel and the experimental investigator come to Port Stowe. At the Jolly Cricketers’ pub the barmen blocks up every door when he gets to know from Mr. Marvel that the invisible man could be there. However, nobody is able to catch him and Griffin tries to reach Dr. Kemps room, whom he knows from University College. When Dr. Kemp comes back to his room and notices something very strange; the invisible man begins to talk with the Doctor.
Now Wells is beginning to fill the background of the invisible man. Wells, of course, was himself a man of science; he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Science where he was privileged to study under the renowned Thomas Henrey Huxley. Here is a touch of the autobiographical, something of Wells’ own history taken from the past, reshaped and fitting into the background of the invisible man.
There is a long conversation between Dr. Kemp and Griffin. Griffin narrates that he has stolen money from his father, but it was not his father’s money, he was disgraced, and the older man was driven to suicide. The invisible man adds that he has to get those books back which Thomas Marvel has at the moment. The secret of invisibility is written down there.
It should be noted that he obviously takes drugs. The strychnine invigorated but simultaneously made him sharp and irritable. There is reason to believe then that some of his violent conduct may be rooted in self - prescribed drugs or stimulants. Evidence his great temper and, violent moods and responses are seen, and there is increasing evidence of madness. In the coldness of his scientific objectivity, his humanity has suffered dearly.
The blessings of invisibility imagined by Griffin have proved to be a nightmare in reality. The total freedom he foresaw has become an endless threat of danger and injury. Ironically, his invisibility has drawn attention to him a dogs sniff at a thing they cannot see and passers - by, spying footprints that march off by themselves, pursue him eagerly. Like a child let loose in a candy shop, the invisible man has quickly tired of his incredible freedom and has discovered what an insuperable burden it really is. Griffin's madness becomes all too evident.

What had been curious dreaming about an extraordinary freedom coupled with invisibility has now become a maniacal drive to terrorise and kill, to strike fear into humanity. This seems almost a defensive response on Griffin's part.
He has had an agonising time of it and has come to interpret man's understandable reactions to invisibility as hateful stupidity and clumsiness. His response is violent and a reign of terror on his part is almost totally comprised of spite and revenge. Beneath it all is a mind twisted into homicidal imbalance, impulsively violent and wildly obsessed now with the notion of self - preservation.
There is a struggle between Dr. Kemp and Griffin, the invisible man hurts Dr. Kemp and gets free. From now Griffin is a really hunted person. Besides a Mr. Wicksteed has been murdered by an invisible creature. It seems that the Reign of Terror commences; Port Burdock is now under the control of the invisible man; death for Kemp is coming.
At Kemps house an enormous struggle begins. Colonel Adey and Kemp himself are very scared of the strange invisible man who has become mad. Mr. Heelas, the neighbour of Dr. Kemp, did never believe this invisible man nonsense, but now he is a believer in the invisible man. The experimental investigator is chased by many people. At the end he is killed. In a short time the body of Griffin becomes visible once again - a young man of about thirty, an albino, his face distorted and his eyes shining like garnets.
Somehow the final victory over the invisible man seems a hollow one. Lying there in the street, visible once more, he is more pitiful than terrible. His great torment and suffering seem more real now. Here are the remains of a twisted and maddened human, driven to destruction by the perverted brilliance of his own mind: Griffin, the alien, the outcast, feared, hunted and finally killed. He had reached into the unknown areas of science, and the unknown has always frightened man. He was brilliant, but his humanity was frail, and he could not maintain his discovery in proper perspective.
Wells allows us to sympathise with Griffin. He is mad and remorseless, but his fellow men are no help. Kemp too pays for his betrayal; and it must strike the reader as appropriately ironic that Kemp, the hunter and betrayer, is himself pursued and denied sanctuary as the invisible man was. Ironic, too, is the fact that the shutting of the houses and shops was his own idea. Kemp is a good man, but with a sense of justice Wells allows him to taste for a while some of the pain and terror that the invisible Griffin had known constantly.


Griffin had been a brilliant young chemist and researcher, confined and unappreciated as an instructor in a small English college. His brilliance had led him to investigations in physics and the properties of light. It is interesting to observe that as his passion for experiment and his devotion to pure scientific investigations accelerated, there was a companion deterioration of his conscience and sense of morality. Nothing was important enough to stand in his way. When he required money to advance his experiments in invisibility, he stole it from his father. It was not the father's money, and the result was suicide and burial in disgrace. Griffin suffered neither remorse nor grief, and yet the roots of guilt were there, for in his dreams he pictured himself thrown into this father's grave and buried along with him.
Griffin was quick to anger, due perhaps to a naturally irascible disposition, but aggravated to a degree, it seems, by the taking of drugs and stimulants. What may have begun as quick temper and impatience rapidly deteriorated into violent rage and a homicidal bent. Madness, too, appears to have set in, but in causes are several. Griffin's deterioration is self - induced to a considerable extent, but his alienation from his own kind is greatly assisted by other human beings. Fear and superstition follow him, and it is often a defensive mechanism of the human species to lash out and destroy that which it fears and does not understand. Griffin's alienation becomes complete, and society hunts him down as it would an animal, finally beating to death this invisible monstrosity.
Is the guilt all Griffin's? Wells does not treat his character in a totally cold manner. Griffin is brilliant, but he has brought a grandly naive quality to his dreams of invisibility. He is rather harshly and painfully restored to a sense of reality as he is chased by dogs, hunted down in a department store, nearly run over in the streets, and constantly subjected to the discomfort of exposure and the affliction of head colds. He is a man caught in a trap of his own making, but his situation is aggravated by frequent accidents and misunderstanding. Then, of course, he is betrayed by the only person in whom he placed confidence. Perhaps it was Dr. Kemp's duty to report a man whom he was convinced was a homicidal maniac. Still, the reader cannot help but sympathize somewhat with Griffin in his wild unreasoning desire for vengeance and his keen sense of having been betrayed by a friend and fellow man of science.
Griffin's end is tragic, but it is the culmination of the tragic course he had followed since he first ventured into the unknown terrors of invisibility.

Dr. Kemp

Griffin feels a bond with Kemp because they had attended the same university and are both men of science. Dr. Kemp, however, has never allowed the scientist's necessary objectivity to overwhelm his own humanity as is the case with Griffin. Kemp is down to earth and, while perhaps not possessing Griffin's inventive genius, has maintained a sense of balance. Kemp, of course, is not a violent man, and he is quick to detect that Griffin's erratic and mercurial temper is a potentially dangerous thing. We may wince somewhat at his betrayal of Griffin; the reader instinctively cheers the underdog, but Kemp's concern is for the violence and harm this dangerous man may do to others. At this point he is a potential murderer, and the trust and confidence he places in Kemp only make that doctor's betrayal of that faith all the more difficult to accomplish in good conscience.
As a literary creation Kemp is important technically for he acts as something of a foil for Griffin's fury. He is the opposite side of the coin, a balancing device for Griffin's excessiveness.

Contrast In Scientific Types:
In Kemp and Griffin, Wells dramatises two different types of scientific approach. Griffin is a throwback to the medieval alchemist, who sought scientific truth for secret, private power; in this sense, Griffin is the early Faustian scientist. Kemp is the modern researcher who publishes his own findings and expects to share in the discoveries of other scientists: concerned with the advancement not of self but of human knowledge, he is the Baconian scientist.


Griffin is a young ambitious scientist, an albino and outcast whose aim is to invent invisibility. He needs money in order to finance his researches and for that reason he robs his father. After that his father shoots himself because Griffin has realised too late that this hadn’t been his father’s money.
At this moment the scientist lives in a lodging - house in a slum near Portland Street, London. There he is able to become invisible and fires the house of his landlord, a polish Jew, because this is the only way to cover his trail. The "fire" is one of Wells’s Leitmotifs. The researcher is playing with fire, in that case with invisibility. It’s a metaphor which appears in some parts of the book.
The first disadvantages of invisibility appear now. When Griffin walks through Oxford Street, his footsteps are seen by other people. - The hunting for the invisible man begins. Griffin enters the department store "Omniums" where he wants to get some clothes but he is very clumsy because "the sound of his movement made people aaraware of him" and has to take shelter. "Sound" is the second Leitmotif which Wells uses. Although Griffin is a genius he seems to be very stupid and unsure. That’s the contrast of his character and appears through the whole book. The third Leitmotif is nakedness. To be invisible Griffin can’t wear clothes, otherwise he would be seen by other people. He has to be naked and this leads to another major problem, namely the unsureness of the character of the invisible man. During the whole work Griffin develops from a quite normal human being into a dangerous beast, into a cruel creature.
The invisible man decides to move to a town called Iping, where he takes up residence in the Coach and Horses inn in order to research. The Halls are the owners of this inn. Mrs. Hall is a very curious lady and the reason why Griffin shows his invisibility. Things develop and all inhabitants of the town get to know that Griffin is invisible. He is hunted again.
If the invisible man had not lost his temper and shown that he is invisible, nobody would no. That’s another part where Wells points out how primitive the brilliant scientist really is in one way.

Next Griffin meets the tramp Marvel and wants him to be his obedient servant. He is very scared and does what Griffin expects him to do at first, but when they come to Port Stowe, Marvel tells the barmen at the Jolly Cricketers’ pub that the invisible man could be there. After this incident the experimental investigator comes together with Dr. Kemp which he knows from university. Dr. Kemp is the opposite of Griffin. Griffin is a real scientist. He wouldn’t adopt discoveries of other researchers, whereas Dr. Kemp would do everything to get the inventions of his colleges.
When Dr. Kemp, who first seems to be a friend of Griffin, betrays him, the invisible man’s madness becomes all too evident. What had been curious dreaming about an extraordinary freedom coupled with invisibility has now become a maniacal drive to terrorise and kill, to strike fear into humanity. Griffin’s response is violence and a reign of terror.
Society has resisted the invisible man and in the end he is beaten and kicked and dies. That’s another aspect which Wells tries to cover behind the "mad scientist" theme. Not only the conflict between knowledge and goodness comes to the foreground but also the reactions of society which cause the enormous discord of the researcher. Very often society is the reason for odd reactions of human beings.
As we know from Wells’ biography he was a socialist and in this story he confirms this fact, because everybody has turned against the invisible man, the scientist Dr. Kemp as well as Marvel the tramp, there are no social barriers, all man are meant to be equal. Wells tries to break up the class system.
The ending of this book is the last absurd and ironic element. Marvel the tramp got the money and the diary of the experimental investigator. He has opened an inn, and tells everybody what has happened to him after that time, when there had been an invisible man. And every Sunday he takes out Griffin’s notes and says that he wouldn’t have done what the researcher did he’d just, well....
And so ends this ironic and dramatic "scientific romance".


This story is about a scientist called Griffin who made a brilliant invention. But not thinking of the result of this he is killed by people who where scared of him.

At first he comes to Iping a little town in England where he wants to stay in order to research. Griffin found out how human beings could become invisible and that was one reason why he left home. He is not able to get visible again which will become a major problem of this man. When things develop the inhabitants of the town find out that Griffin is invisible and immediately he is a hunted creature. The invisible man meets Dr. Kemp whom he knows very well because they went to the same university. But Kemp traits Griffin and wants him, like everybody, to be caught. At last the invisible man is killed in a struggle.

There are some important devices in this book. Dr. Kemp is the opposite of Griffin. He doesn’t invent things himself whereas Griffin would never adopt an invention of somebody else. Mrs. Hall is a very curious person and she is the reason why he showed his invisibility. This dramatic ending would not have to be happened if society had excepted the invisible man. He just was a strange, not understood outcast. He was different.

There are some other problems which concern the situation of Griffin. He didn’t realise what it ment to be invisible. He was not aware of the consequence of his invention. This leads us to the conclusion that scientists are men who can be very dangerous and that society plays an important part in the life of such a person who is regarded as an outcast by other people. - Very often or almost every time society is the reason for odd reactions of human beings.

H. G. Wells writes in a quite ironic, dramatic way with a comic effect. Wells himself is a pessimistic person which we also get to know from his books. "The invisible man" was written in 1897 and counts to the "scientific romances" which he wrote between 1895 and 1908.

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