The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells… Review by Yokibu Editorial
Posted on: October 10, 2018.

Extracts from the book:

“Great and strange ideas transcending experience often have less effect upon men and women than smaller, more tangible considerations.”

“In the middle of the night she woke up dreaming of huge white heads like turnips, that came trailing after her, at the end of interminable necks, and with vast black eyes…”

“I had never realised it before, but the nose is to the mind of a dog what the eye is to the mind of a seeing man…”

“To do such a thing would be to transcend magic. And I beheld, unclouded by doubt, a magnificent vision of all that invisibility might mean to a man—the mystery, the power, the freedom…”

“I did not feel then that I was lonely, that I had come out from the world into a desolate place. I appreciated my loss of sympathy, but I put it down to the general inanity of things.”

“Help me — and I will do great things for you. An invisible man is a man of power.”

“…the first of all men to make himself invisible, Griffin, the most gifted physicist the world has ever seen…”

 

It was sometime in my teens that I first read “The Invisible Man” by Herbert George “H. G.” Wells, from the hardcover book collection “Great Illustrated Classics”. The very name of the book was enough to kindle the interest of a curious youngster to pick it up and thumb through it…

…and once I started reading the book and began to get mesmerized by the way the story was presented and made more appealing by its illustrations, I just could not put it down. But I did take nearly a week to finish the book, for parts of it were so vividly and thrillingly expressed that I would pause reading at certain parts and go back to read the intriguing parts that lead to it.

The story opens with a mysterious-looking stranger alighting at Bramblehurst railway station and rushing through the heavy snow towards the small village of Iping. He reaches the Coach and Horses Inn where most of the initial story happens. Two days later, the stranger’s luggage arrives by horse-cart in many large boxes and crates. Right from the stranger’s first day at Iping, he is the talk of the town, whose people are not in the least pleased by his appearance, activities, or conduct. Only one, the village physician Dr. Cuss, believes the stranger to be a scientist involved in a very important experiment.

The stranger keeps himself covered in bandages, thick black gloves, dark glasses, and a long, high-necked coat which conceals most of his features, and mostly stays behind locked doors for most of the day, venturing out only in the evening, for a brief walk in the village. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hall observes that her room is covered with glass equipment and bottles of chemicals, some labelled “POISON”, and the floor littered with packing material.

The stranger, many times a day, while not mixing and swirling chemicals together, would suffer a fit of rage, breaking furniture and equipment, and people at the inn would hear loud swearing sounds and the noise of glass and wood being hurled and smashed. One day Mrs. Hall sneaks into the stranger’s room unannounced, only to hear a violent sneeze followed by a chair abruptly picking itself up and charging at her, propelling Mr. and Mrs. Hall out of the room, with a rude bark of laughter.

The suspense of how Jack Griffin the titular character becomes invisible is not revealed for many chapters. Presently, money begins to get stolen, especially from that of the Reverend Mr. Bunting’s house who hears disembodied violent sneezes, characteristic of the ominous stranger. Jaffers, the village constable, interferes to enquire the stranger, accused of a burglary charge. When finally cornered, the mystery-man suddenly pulls off his “nose” and drops it in Mrs. Hall’s open palm who shrieks in shock and faints in Mr. Hall’s arms.

In the diversion that is created, the stranger abandons his wide-brimmed hat, large collared coat, and large dark glasses, and tears off his hair and bandages. That is when the people of the Iping, who were only prepared to see severe disfigurations or scars, actually get to “see” nothing!—The Invisible Man.

Immediate events that follow include the Invisible Man fleeing the village of Iping, meeting and enslaving Thomas Marvel, a tramp, returning to the Coach and Horses and using Marvel’s help to retrieve his money and three big books tied together in blue cloth and placed in a suspender, setting fire to his room to destroy all evidence and scientific equipment, wreaking Mr. and Mrs. Huxter’s house to splinters, and vanishing forever from Iping, never to be seen or heard there again.

But Marvel the Tramp betrays the Invisible Man and escapes with his three books and his money. The Invisible Man wanders and arrives at the port town of Burdock and seeks asylum in a house there which, coincidentally, belongs to his college friend Dr. Arthur Kemp. The Invisible Man recognizes Kemp, is thankful to have reached him, and reveals himself to be Jack Griffin. Kemp remembers Griffin to have won the gold medal in Physics at college. Griffin narrates Kemp the story of how he switched from Physics to Chemistry, stole his father’s money that was not his own for which he shot himself, burnt down his landlady’s house, made himself invisible and escaped to Iping, and his plans for a “Reign of Terror”.

Kemp informs Griffin’s psychotic intentions to Colonel Adye, Chief of Police in Burdock and two of them plan to capture Griffin before he brings harm upon innocent people. But Griffin learns of their intentions, and subsequently, shoots and kills Adye, and chases Kemp for his life. Shortly afterwards, he murders Lionel Wicksteed, an inquisitive yet innocent wayside worker who unwittingly challenges his invisibility.

Griffin is eventually overpowered by a group of workers and killed in the process. In death, Griffin’s bones, nerves, blood, muscle, flesh and skin turn visible layer by layer and Kemp witnesses the bruised and broken body of his college friend, which he covers with a sheet brought from the Jolly Cricketers Inn where a shootout had occurred earlier that night.

The story ends with Marvel the Tramp as the proud owner of the Invisible Man Inn that he’s established with Griffin’s money. Marvel tries to discover the secret to invisibility from the coded language in the three books he stole from Griffin. He begins to comprehend a little but swears that he will never attempt invisibility…


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