H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man

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A man swathed in bandages shows up at an inn in the village of Iping in West Sussex. He rents a large room and cases of materials arrive for him. His behavior and appearance attract quite a bit of attention. It is suddenly revealed that he is invisible. One person can see right into his jacket sleeve. There is nothing there! The Invisible Man attempts to escape from this location and he gets help from a tramp and manages to run away to another town where he lands at the house of a former fellow student.

We find out, as he is explaining his current predicament to the fellow student, that his name is Griffin and that through his scientific pursuits he found a way to make himself invisible. He thought there was going to be quite a few advantages to being invisible but soon finds the situation to be quite the opposite. First, in order to be invisible, one has to be naked which can be quite uncomfortable. One is also not completely invisible if matter can deposit itself on the body and stay there. In effect, the outline of body parts will be visible is there is rain, snow, mud or dust. Griffin also finds out that being safe on the street relies as much on being careful and staying out of people’s way as on others seeing him and avoiding colliding with him. While he is invisible, he keeps getting bumped into by passers by and risks being run over by horse-drawn carts. Being invisible also makes it difficult to attend to injuries as they are not visible either to him or others. Food consumed by the Invisible Man is also visible until absorbed. What the author does not say is whether the food matter that is not absorbed by the body remains visible until it has made its way out of the digestive system…

In the end, the fellow student is instrumental in revealing Griffin’s presence and the ensuing chase results in serious injury and the death of the Invisible Man. As he is dying, the body slowly becomes visible again in the reverse order as the process of becoming invisible was originally described.

H.G. Wells provides an interesting thought-experiment of the possible consequences of being invisible. All in all, it does not sound like a very desirable state.

The story is well constructed and suspense is effectively maintained throughout. This is the second H.G. Wells book I read after The Island of Doctor Moreau and his writing is a delight. I definitely have to get into The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds soon.

 

A man swathed in bandages shows up at an inn in the village of Iping in West Sussex. He rents a large room and cases of materials arrive for him. His behavior and appearance attract quite a bit of attention. It is suddenly revealed that he is invisible. One person can see right into his jacket sleeve. There is nothing there! The Invisible Man attempts to escape from this location and he gets help from a tramp and manages to run away to another town where he lands at the house of a former fellow student.

We find out, as he is explaining his current predicament to the fellow student, that his name is Griffin and that through his scientific pursuits he found a way to make himself invisible. He thought there was going to be quite a few advantages to being invisible but soon finds the situation to be quite the opposite. First, in order to be invisible, one has to be naked which can be quite uncomfortable. One is also not completely invisible if matter can deposit itself on the body and stay there. In effect, the outline of body parts will be visible is there is rain, snow, mud or dust. Griffin also finds out that being safe on the street relies as much on being careful and staying out of people’s way as on others seeing him and avoiding colliding with him. While he is invisible, he keeps getting bumped into by passers by and risks being run over by horse-drawn carts. Being invisible also makes it difficult to attend to injuries as they are not visible either to him or others. Food consumed by the Invisible Man is also visible until absorbed. What the author does not say is whether the food matter that is not absorbed by the body remains visible until it has made its way out of the digestive system…

In the end, the fellow student is instrumental in revealing Griffin’s presence and the ensuing chase results in serious injury and the death of the Invisible Man. As he is dying, the body slowly becomes visible again in the reverse order as the process of becoming invisible was originally described.

H.G. Wells provides an interesting thought-experiment of the possible consequences of being invisible. All in all, it does not sound like a very desirable state.

The story is well constructed and suspense is effectively maintained throughout. This is the second H.G. Wells book I read after The Island of Doctor Moreau and his writing is a delight. I definitely have to get into The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds soon.

 

References

Wells, H.G., The Invisible Man, 1897. (web edition published by eBooks@Adelaide)

 

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