Given a chance, will you choose invisibility over everything else?
“The Invisible Man” by H. G. Wells is an exploration of this possibility of human invisibility through the eyes of a psychopathic scientist, Griffin. The plot opens with a certain Mrs. Hall distressing herself over the arrival of a new strange guest in her inn in a small town of Iping. He seems to be weirdly wrapped in bandages from head to toe. He doesn’t talk much and has some secret air about him. However, Mrs. Hall is being paid a fortune by him for the room, so she doesn’t bother herself much until some suspicious things start happening in his room. Soon Iping would witness inconceivable unexplained occurrences.
I am going to keep this review short. I liked how science has been explained in the book. Griffin, a scientist, discovers a formula to do something with the molecules in the body due to which they do not refract or absorb light, thereby making its refractive index same as air, rendering him invisible. The book is his journey into something that he never gave a second thought to, but is now likely to be stuck with permanently. Some passages spooked me out. For example, the below. Imagine something like this in real life and you know how incredibly thrilling and scary it sounds.
“And the snow had warned me of other dangers. I could not go abroad in snow—it would settle on me and expose me. Rain, too, would make me a watery outline, a glistening surface of a man—a bubble. And fogli—I should be like a fainter bubble in a fog, a surface, a greasy glimmer of humanity. Moreover, as I went abroad—in the London air—I gathered dirt about my ankles, floating smutslj and dust upon my skin. I did not know how long it would be before I should become visible from that cause also. But I saw clearly it could not be for long.”
But the book also explores another side to this. Despite having its own advantages, the book looks at how something which goes against basic human nature can also prove to be a road to descent. Griffin’s frustration of not being able to do the normal things in life results in him doing some despicable things.
“No doubt invisibility made it possible to get them, but it made it impossible to enjoy them when they were.”
The book is fast-paced and after the first few chapters I couldn’t put it down. The writing is extremely matter-of-fact. The reader isn’t given any time to soak into details or even mull over anything. If you think for a longer time you might find little loopholes too but considering the book was amongst one of the earliest sci-fi attempts (after Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein of course), you cannot deny it makes a brilliant reading.
If you are a sci-fi sucker, and yet haven’t read this one, I think you should.