The Invisible Man is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. Originally serialized in Pearson’s Weekly in 1897, but published as a novel the same year. The invisible man in the title is Griffin, a scientist who has dedicated himself to research in optics and invents a way to change the refractive index of a body to the index of air so that it does not absorb or reflect light and becomes invisible.
A strange man (Griffin) arrives in Iping and stays at the Coach and Horses Inn. He is completely wrapped in clothing, which is not removed even after Mrs. Hall, who runs the inn, lights a fire for him. Mrs. Hall notes that Griffin’s face is also wrapped in bandages. Griffin is rude to her. Later that day, Griffin explains that he is an “experimental investigator” and that he needs his equipment.
He does not attend church or communicate with anyone outside of town, and only goes out at night. Villagers gossip, inventing many different theories about him. Local doctor Cuss visits Griffin at the inn, and is surprised to see that his sleeve is completely empty where an arm should be, but still manages to pinch Cuss’s nose.
On vacation, Reverend Bunting and Mrs. Bunting wake up to the sound of the stolen vicarage. They try to catch the thief, but cannot see anyone there. The same morning, Mr. Hall and Mrs. Hall notice that the door to Griffin’s room is open and his bed is empty.
They call Sandy Wadgers, the blacksmith, to change the locks so they can lock Griffin, but while they are discussing this, Griffin emerges from his room (although it seemed to be empty before) and enters the room. He locks himself up and can be heard screaming and crushing things. Later, Mrs. Hall asks Griffin why he hasn’t paid his bill; when he offers her money, she is suspicious, since only a few days before she told him that she had nothing.
When the villagers confront the inn, Griffin removes the bandages to reveal a “black cavity”: his invisible face. Upon learning the truth about Griffin, the villagers flee in horror. Local agent Bobby Jaffers tries to arrest Griffin for stealing the vicarage, but fails and escapes.
Outside of Iping, Griffin seeks the help of a local “bum”, Thomas Marvel. At first, Marvel thinks he’s hallucinating when he hears a disembodied voice speaking to him, but Griffin proves he’s real and invisible by throwing rocks at him. Surprised, Marvel agrees to help Griffin.
Marvel tries to quit his role as Griffin’s aide, but Griffin threatens to kill him if he betrays him. The next day, Marvel and Griffin arrive in the city of Port Stowe, and Marvel strikes up a conversation with a local sailor. The sailor tells him the rumors about the Invisible Man and shows him a newspaper article about the events in Iping.
The narration changes a man named Doctor Kemp. He is appalled by local gossip about the Invisible Man and the “fools” who believe the story is real. Nearby, Marvel breaks into the Jolly Cricketers pub, explaining in terror that he needs help because the Invisible Man is chasing him. Griffin enters the pub too and there is a fight.
Dr. Kemp’s doorbell rings, but his servant tells him that no one was there when he answered. Kemp then finds blood on the handle and floor of his bedroom door. In his room, Griffin talks to Kemp, and at first Kemp refuses to believe that he really is there. Griffin introduces himself and reminds Kemp that they studied together at University College London.
The next day, Griffin tells Kemp that years earlier, while researching light and optics, he discovered a way to make living tissue invisible. He kept his findings to himself, worried that someone would steal them.
After spending three years researching invisibility, Griffin realized that he would need money to carry out the experiment. He stole money from his father that didn’t really belong to him, leading his father to shoot himself. Griffin admits that he felt no guilt or sympathy for his father.
Griffin says he first tested his invisibility experiment on a piece of cloth, and then on his neighbor’s cat. The cat’s meow of pain woke up his landlord, who suspected Griffin’s activities. Griffin then performed the experiment on himself, successfully becoming invisible.
Aware of his landlord’s suspicions, he set his apartment on fire and fled. He was eventually able to steal clothing and other items to disguise himself, wrapping himself up to hide his invisibility from the world. He eventually traveled to Iping, hoping to continue his scientific research there. Griffin tells Kemp that he plans to impose a “Realm of Terror,” killing people as he sees fit, to institute “The Age of Invisible Man.”
Griffin attacks Kemp and Adye at Kemp’s house, shooting Adye with his own weapon. Kemp runs away, asking for help from his neighbor, Mr. Heelas, who refuses. Kemp runs towards the city being chased by Griffin. A crowd of people descend on Griffin, and although Kemp begs them to have mercy, Griffin is beaten to death. His body becomes visible again when he dies.
In the epilogue, the narrator explains that after Griffin’s death, Marvel used the money he stole from him to become an owner. He is now a respected man in the local area who has a “reputation for wisdom.” Sometimes Marvel shares their stories of the Invisible Man with passersby. However, he never reveals that he kept Griffin’s notebooks, which he keeps secret and whose content he doesn’t keep.
Genre: science fiction
Since it includes futuristic scientific advances, it can be considered a work of science fiction. However, it fits into the horror genre as well because the protagonist uses his impossible discovery for evil. That is direct horror right there. Much of this book is very close to comedy (in terms of “Tone”). But for the most part, we are scared by the idea of an Invisible Man who wants to use murder to conquer the world.
In addition to all the evil monster that takes over the world, there are many other horror-like things that happen in this book: uncertainty, ghosts, and insanity.
- Griffin: He is the antihero of the novel and the titular “Invisible Man”. A former medical student at University College London, he never graduated and instead began looking for research in light and optics.
- Mrs. Hall: She is a woman who lives in Iping and runs the Coach and Horses Inn with her husband, Mr. Hall.
- Thomas Marvel: is a “tramp” (homeless person) living in the Sussex countryside. Griffin establishes an alliance with him, flattering him by saying that he has chosen him especially to help him.
- Dr. Kemp: He is a doctor who lives in Port Burdock. He is tall and blond. He also has a highly rational, even, non-superstitious disposition.
In some ways, The Invisible Man is a didactic novel similar to a parable, which means that it seeks to convey a moral message to the reader. In fact, this message comes in the form of a warning about certain immoral behaviors, especially greed and self-interest.
The Invisible Man is a novel related to immorality and the subject of how humans would behave if there were no consequences. By becoming invisible in a scientific experiment, Griffin ensures an enormous amount of freedom. In recounting the story of how he became invisible to Dr. Kemp, Griffin recalls: “My head was already full of all the wild and wonderful things I now had impunity to do.”