About the Book

Book Protagonist: Griffin
Publication Date: 1897
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction
2.9/5

Themes and Analysis

The Invisible Man

By H.G. Wells

'The Invisible Man' by H.G. Wells was written in the late 1800s and was one of Wells’ first novels. It engages with several important themes, like isolation, and uses a variety of symbols.

The Invisible Man‘ is not Wells’ best-known novel, but it is one of those that helped solidify his reputation as the “father of science fiction.” The short novel follows Griffin, a destructive, selfish scientist who succeeds in his one goal—to turn himself invisible. 

The Invisible Man Themes 

Isolation 

Griffin completely isolates himself from the rest of the world after he turns himself invisible. He struggles to complete everyday tasks and has to further isolate himself to stay out of harm’s way, especially after he starts stealing and destroying property. He’s lonely but only through his own actions. 

Community 

The villagers in Iping join together in a way that’s impossible for Griffin, in part due to his invisibility but also due to his narcissistic personality. They work together to find Griffin and ensure he can’t hurt anyone else. 

Scientific Advancement 

This is perhaps the most important theme of the novel and one that Wells certainly had in mind when he penned it. Griffin’s discovery—that he can turn himself invisible is truly an incredible accomplishment. But, Griffin did not achieve it for the right reasons.

From the beginning, he wanted to make this discovery to benefit himself personally. He knew that being invisible would allow him to take what he wanted when he wanted. He jumped without really thinking about where he was going land. Wells alludes to the dangers of making these kinds of advancements without fully thinking them through. 

Analysis of Key Moments in The Invisible Man

  1. Griffin arrives at a local inn in Iping. 
  2. Griffin gets his luggage from the station. 
  3. He starts scaring people around town and robs the vicarage. 
  4. He reveals himself as invisible to the village on Whit Monday. 
  5. He recruits Marvel to go back to Iping and get his notebooks. 
  6. They rob places around Port Stowe 
  7. Griffin chases Marvel, but he gets away. 
  8. Griffin finds Dr. Kemp and tells his story. 
  9. Kemp betrays griffin to the police. 
  10. He kills Wicksteed. 
  11. He attacks Dr. Kemp’s home but is followed and killed by a mob of people. 


Style, Tone, and Figurative Language 

Throughout this novel, Wells uses a realistic writing style with elements of science fiction and horror. His writing is well-known for taking something outlandish, like the alien invasion in War of the Worlds, and writing about it in a convincing way. 

This style benefits from a narrative/objective tone. The narrator describes events with a detached tone, suggesting that they do not have any opinion on what the outcome is and are not emotionally influenced by the events. 

Wells also uses a variety of examples of figurative language in the book. This includes metaphors and similes that help readers understand griffin’s situation and how the villagers perceive him. For example, “Why, he looked more like a divin’ helmet than a human man!” 

Analysis of Symbols 

The Village of Iping 

The village of Iping is a real-life place located in the English countryside. It’s there as Griffin travels after turning himself invisible. He tries to remain isolated, working on a solution to his invisibility. Iping is a quiet, peaceful place and somewhere that someone like Griffin definitely does not fit in. The villagers are not used to people keeping secrets or acting in any way that’s not courteous.

They look out for one another and only want the best for other people. This stands in stark contrast to Griffin’s ideals (those that are throughout the novel are connected to scientific progress, technology, and the further isolation of human beings). The villagers represent a way of life that’s not controlled by technology or industry, and that is disappearing. 

Invisibility 

The fact that Griffin is physically invisible throughout the entire novel is incredibly important. He can be around people, listening in, or even causing harm, without anyone noticing. But, what he thought would be a benefit in his life, turns out to be an extraordinary burden.

Griffen strives to rid himself of his invisibility, realizing that it symbolizes nothing but his own unhappiness and isolation. It separates him from the world in a way that only exacerbates his already narcissistic personality. Any remaining empathy he might’ve had for other people vanishes along with his physical body. 

Griffin’s Notebooks 

It’s in his notebooks that Griffin writes down everything he knows about his own invisibility, how he accomplished it, and his efforts to reverse it. He’s one of the most brilliant physicists who has ever lived, the book states, meaning that his work is quite complex and impossible for Thomas Marvel (who absconds with the notebooks) to understand. 

Griffin cherishes his notebooks, seeing them as the way out of his invisibility, and when he loses them, he’s devastated. But he’s killed before he can get his notebooks back. 

FAQs 

Why did H.G. Wells write The Invisible Man? 

H.G. Wells wrote The Invisible Man to speak on themes of isolation and hasty, damaging scientific advancement. Griffin uses science to advance himself in a way that’s dangerous for other people. 

Who is the villain in The Invisible Man? 

The villain is the main character, Griffin, who, after turning himself invisible, is determined to go on a reign of terror throughout the country and murders people in the town of Iping. 

Why does Griffin make himself invisible? 

Griffin makes himself invisible because he thinks it will give him an advantage. He can do anything he wants, including taking anything he wants, without repercussions. He also wants to prove his intelligence. 

When was The Invisible Man published?

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells was published in 1897. It was Wells’ fifth novel, published after The Wheel of Chance and The Island of Dr. Moreau in 1896 and The Time Machine and The Wonderful Visit in 1895. In 1898, Wells wrote The War of the Worlds. 

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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