Study Guide: The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells - BookNotes|
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THE INVISIBLE MAN: CRITICAL ANALYSIS / LESSON PLANS
Kemp is referred to as “the doctor,” but his degree seems to be an academic
one rather than a medical one. He continues his own study in hopes of
being admitted to “the Royal Fellows.” His own experiments and fascination
with science enable him to listen sensibly to Griffin, but in spite of
being rather contemptuous of his fellow citizens, his common sense and
decency prevent him from being a part of Griffin’s schemes. Kemp is also
the only “cool headed” person in the town once the final attack begins.
He runs to escape Griffin, but as soon as Griffin catches him, he has
the presence of mind to turn the capture around. He is also the first
to realize that even though Griffin is invisible, he is injured, and,
The plot of the story is very straightforward. It begins in third person as the narrator introduces the Invisible Man midway through his experiences. Once the Man is revealed, Griffin himself takes over and tells how he began his experiments and what happened to him after he had taken the potion. At the end, the point of view once again changes to that of an objective narration.
As Griffin tells his story, one can see that his behavior becomes increasingly reprehensible. In a very logical way, people first in Iping, and then in surrounding towns, become aware of the strange being in their midst. The people are curious, frightened and then determined in their attempts to bring him down and to find out who and what he really is.
The climax of the story occurs when Griffin returns to take revenge
on Kemp for betraying him. The plot is resolved with the Invisible Man’s
The narrator uses the Invisible Man to experiment with the depth to which a person can sink when there are no social restrictions to suppress his behavior. When Griffin first kills his father, he excuses it away by saying that the man was a “sentimental fool.” When he takes the potion himself, he endures such pain that he “understands” why the cat howled so much in the process of becoming invisible. Nevertheless he has no compassion for the cat, for his father or for any of the people he takes advantage of in the course of trying to survive invisibility. On the contrary, he descends from committing atrocities because they are necessary to his survival to committing them simply because he enjoys doing so.
This theme of corruption in the absence of social law has become a motif
that is explored in other literary works. H. G. Well created his story
with very little psychological elaboration or character development. Other
writers, however, have taken the idea much farther; we are thus blessed
with novels such as Lord of the Flies, and Heart of Darkness, along with
short stories by Poe and Melville.
Although Wells does not have his characters elaborate on this idea,
the concept is represented in the character of Kemp as well as in Griffin
himself. Kemp wants to stop Griffin more out of fear for himself than
out of concern for the community, but he is nonetheless fascinated by
the accomplishment of this misguided college student. The problem with
the entire experiment is that Griffin pursued the idea of invisibility
without regard to whether or not there would be any real benefit to society
because of it.
The point of view is third person dramatic for the first half of the book.
Then it is a blend of third person and first person while Griffin tells
his own story. Chapters 25 through the Epilogue return to third person.
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Ruff, Dr. Karen. "TheBestNotes on The Invisible Man".
. 10 June 2008