Amy Sturgis's Reviews > The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
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's review
Jul 29, 12

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bookshelves: 19th-century, science-fiction-vintage
Read from July 24 to 29, 2012

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells was published as a serial in Pearson's Weekly and then as a standalone novel, both in 1987. A compelling morality tale as well as a fascinating science fiction yarn, The Invisible Man is a direct response to the "Ring of Gyges" story in Plato's Republic. The "Ring of Gyges" story questions whether an intelligent man, if he feared neither being caught nor being punished (for example, if he were invisible), would act in a moral fashion. Wells' brilliant physicist Griffin clearly is intelligent. He is not a sympathetic character at the best of times, quite possibly a psychopath from the beginning, but when he experiments on himself and renders himself invisible, he acts utterly without conscience - but not without consequences.

Wells gives great attention to both the hypothetical science and practical details behind Griffin's experience - undigested food would be visible, even if the person weren't, for example - and this makes it easy for the reader to suspend disbelief and become caught up in the challenges of Griffin's day-to-day survival. The most memorable parts of the novel to me, however, have a more Gothic flavor: the bizarre plight of the invisible cat, which the neighbors could hear crying but could not see; the horror of Griffin's one-time classmate Kemp, as Griffin relates all he has done to advance his experiments and protect his secrets; Griffin's chilling declaration of a "Reign of Terror" on Port Burdock and the nation as a whole. The final scene of the mob killing of the Invisible Man is both brutal and wrenching.

While this doesn't compete with The Time Machine for me as Wells' best work, it's still a powerful story that still has much to say to a modern-day reader.

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Reading Progress

40.0% "A Note to the Protagonist Re: "The Invisible Man Loses His Temper"... It's called "Freaking the Mundanes." You're doing it wrong."

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