H. G. Wells

The Invisible Man

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The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells - is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. Originally serialised in Pearson's Weekly in 1897, it was published as a novel the same year. The Invisible Man to whom the title refers is Griffin, a scientist who has devoted himself to research into optics and who invents a way to change a body's refractive index to that of air so that it neither absorbs nor reflects light. He carries out this procedure on himself and renders himself invisible, but fails in his attempt to reverse it. A practitioner of random and irresponsible violence, Griffin has become an iconic character in horror fiction. Plot summary A mysterious man, Griffin, referred to as 'the stranger', arrives at the local inn owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hall of the English village of Iping, West Sussex, during a snowstorm. The stranger wears a long-sleeved, thick coat and gloves; his face is hidden entirely by bandages except for a prosthetic nose, and he wears a wide-brimmed hat. He is excessively reclusive, irascible, unfriendly, and introverted. He demands to be left alone and spends most of his time in his rooms working with a set of chemicals and laboratory apparatus, only venturing out at night. He also causes a lot of accidents, but when Mrs. Hall addresses this, the stranger angrily demands that the cost of the damage be put on his bill. While Griffin is staying at the inn, hundreds of strange glass bottles arrive. Many local townspeople believe this to be very odd. He becomes the talk of the village with many theorizing as to his origins. Meanwhile, a mysterious burglary occurs in the village. Griffin is running out of money and is trying to find a way to pay for his board and lodging. When his landlady demands that he pay his bill and quit the premises, he reveals his invisibility to her in a fit of anger. An attempt to apprehend the stranger by police officer Jaffers is thwarted when he undresses to take advantage of his invisibility, fights off his would-be captors, and flees to the South Downs. There Griffin coerces a tramp, Thomas Marvel, to become his assistant. With Marvel, he returns to the village to recover three notebooks that contain records of his experiments. Marvel attempts to betray the Invisible Man, who threatens to kill him. Marvel escapes to the seaside town of Port Burdock, pursued to a local inn by the Invisible Man, who is shot by one of the bar patrons. The Invisible Man takes shelter in a nearby house that turns out to belong to Dr. Kemp, a former acquaintance from medical school. To Kemp, he reveals his true identity. Griffin is an albino former medical student who left medicine to devote himself to optics. Griffin tells Kemp the story of how he invented chemicals capable of rendering bodies invisible, which he first tried on a cat, then himself, how he burned down the boarding house he was staying in to cover his tracks, found himself ill-equipped to survive in the open, eventually stole some clothing from a theatrical supply shop on Drury Lane, and then headed to Iping to attempt to reverse the invisibility. Having been driven somewhat unhinged by the procedure and his experiences, he now imagines that he can make Kemp his secret confederate, describing a plan to use his invisibility to terrorise the nation.
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4 hours 58 minutes
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