The Invisible Man – H. G. Wells
Such a kind of literature as that of which The Invisible Man is a specimen is inevitable. We are living in an age of inventions. The conditions of life are being more or less modified by these. It is very natural to imagine the development of invention ; very natural also to ask whether the world will be any happier for it. Mr. Wells has remarkable literary abilities. He has also had a good scientific training, and he is saved alike by his sense and knowledge from the insanity which might easily wreck such attempts as these. The Invisible Man is decidedly striking and original, and what is rare in such books, it is also provocative of thought. The story is of a man who by following up certain scientific principles, which are carefully and plausibly explained, found that he could make himself invisible. He saw, not unnaturally, great possibilities in the discovery, possibilities of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, and a power even greater than the power which goes with wealth. But he found when his goal was reached that it was not a paradise. In the first place, although invisible, he was not intangible. In the second place, although his body was invisible, his clothes were not. Consequently, in order to enjoy the full privileges of his invisibility, he had to go naked, which is uncomfortable in this non Edenic climate. He found, further, that if he took food he was visible until it was assimilated, and of course the dishes on which it was contained were seen mounting to the unseen mouth. Mr. Wells has thoroughly worked out his plan in his own mind, and the result is decidedly amusing.
The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man.
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Plot summary of The Invisible Man (from Wikipedia):
A mysterious man, Griffin, arrives at the local inn of the English village of Iping, West Sussex, during a snowstorm. The stranger wears a long-sleeved, thick coat and gloves; his face is hidden entirely by bandages except for a fake pink nose; and he wears a wide-brimmed hat. He is excessively reclusive, irascible, and unfriendly. He demands to be left alone and spends most of his time in his rooms working with a set of chemicals and laboratory apparatus, only venturing out at night. While Griffin is staying at the inn, hundreds of strange glass bottles (that he calls his luggage) arrive. Many local townspeople believe this to be very strange. He becomes the talk of the village with many theorizing as to his origins.
Meanwhile, a mysterious burglary occurs in the village. Griffin is running out of money and is trying to find a way to pay for his board and lodging. When his landlady demands that he pay his bill and quit the premises, he reveals part of his invisibility to her in a fit of pique. An attempt to apprehend the stranger is frustrated when he undresses to take advantage of his invisibility, fights off his would-be captors, and flees to the downs.
There Griffin coerces a tramp, Thomas Marvel, into becoming his assistant. With Marvel, he returns to the village to recover three notebooks that contain records of his experiments. When Marvel attempts to betray the Invisible Man to the police, Griffin chases him to the seaside town of Port Burdock, threatening to kill him. Marvel escapes to a local inn and is saved by the people at the inn, but Griffin escapes. Marvel later goes to the police and tells them of this „invisible man,“ then requests to be locked up in a high-security jail.
Griffin’s furious attempt to avenge his betrayal leads to his being shot. He takes shelter in a nearby house that turns out to belong to Dr. Kemp, a former acquaintance from medical school. To Kemp, he reveals his true identity. Griffin is a former medical student who left medicine to devote himself to optics. He recounts how he invented chemicals capable of rendering bodies invisible, and, on impulse, performed the procedure on himself.
Griffin tells Kemp of the story of how he became invisible. He explains how he tried the invisibility on a cat, then himself. Griffin burned down the boarding house he was staying in, along with all the equipment he used to turn invisible, to cover his tracks; but he soon realised that he was ill-equipped to survive in the open. He attempted to steal food and clothes from a large department store, and eventually stole some clothing from a theatrical supply shop and headed to Iping to attempt to reverse the invisibility. Now he imagines that he can make Kemp his secret confederate, describing his plan to begin a „Reign of Terror“ by using his invisibility to terrorise the nation.
Kemp has already denounced Griffin to the local authorities and is waiting for help to arrive as he listens to this wild proposal. When the authorities arrive at Kemp’s house, Griffin fights his way out and the next day leaves a note announcing that Kemp himself will be the first man to be killed in the „Reign of Terror“. Kemp, a cool-headed character, tries to organise a plan to use himself as bait to trap the Invisible Man, but a note that he sends is stolen from his servant by Griffin.
Griffin uses Kemp’s gun to shoot and injure a local policeman who comes to Kemp’s aid, then breaks into Kemp’s house. Kemp bolts for the town, where the local citizenry come to his aid. Griffin is seized, assaulted, and killed by a mob. The Invisible Man’s naked, battered body gradually becomes visible as he dies. A local policeman shouts to have someone cover Griffin’s face with a sheet.
In the epilogue, it is revealed that Marvel has secretly kept Griffin’s notes; but since they are written in code, he is completely incapable of understanding them.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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