Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Insights Into The Invisible Man - HG Wells

The Invisible Man, the iconic book by HG Wells, written in 1897, has at its core elements of the fantastic, but more importantly a stronger connection to the modern social media experience and the loneliness factor than I first realized. Griffin, our hero/villian, and the central figure in the book, working as a scientist discovers a way to alter the body's refractive index, which turns him invisible. Initially, and in pursuit of all the glories that might come from invisibility, we find Griffin in the small village of Iping where he has cloaked his body, face and hands in tight wrappings, glasses and a gloves to assemble himself in some recognizable way. He inflicts a great commotion and begins to rob and pillage the town. Until discovered, it is not known, who committed these acts. But as soon as he is, the town pushes him out and stories fly across the region - the invisible man must be caught! It isn't until he is held up by a fellow scientist and doctor, Kemp, that we learn the back story.

Griffin makes his discovery in his living quarters, a small room in London. As he is run out of the building because of suspicion by his landlord, he burns the place down using the radiator gas line. And it is here, during his escape, that I found the book to really begin. He takes to the streets where he impacts minor harm on a department store and the local residences. While trying to escape authorities and further harm on himself, he keeps running (bumping) into people. No one can see him, so no one can avoid him. He has the power of invisibility, yet his power is perceived and not actually developing into anything substantial. He is weakened, actually, as he flees from the authorities and even the locals with whom he has impact with. And this is where we see Griffin turn into villain. He begins to go mad! His friend and colleague, Kemp turns on him. He alerts the police to his presence, but before he is caught he puts up a wounding an officer, and causing more harm. Griffin is wounded in the fight and only when he bleeds does he become visible. His blood runs as red as mine as he flees from his pursuers. Eventually, he is caught by a mob and beaten to death! As he dies, his pale and albino body comes to form, and we are taken by surprise at the young man, dead.

To me, the book represents how our own misconceptions of self, created by isolation or delusion, almost turn us invisible to our fellow man. We cloud our minds with grandeur and self-elevate. Our sense of self goes well-beyond our true nature. Our invisibility is our own. Yet, we still exist in this culture, our world. Just as Griffin discovers in the book. He tries to escape the reality of his situation, but finds that he is almost invisible even to himself. He turns from whom he once was to a monster - a misunderstood one at that - even by his friend Kemp.

If you haven't read the book, I suggest you do! An excellent read, and entertaining! 

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