I decided to revisit The Invisible Man a few weeks ago when I saw it on a feature shelf at my library.
I’d first read it when I was in high school and was so hooked on the story back then that I completed the book in a day. I wanted to know if my experience with the story would be the same or if the intervening years had dried the story for me and made it a bore, so I gave it another read.
This masterpiece of science fiction is the fascinating story of Griffin, a scientist who creates a serum to render himself invisible, and his descent into madness that follows. (Goodreads)
My thoughts: (spoilers)
In short, I enjoyed the story. Again I was hooked just as I was when I first read it. But unlike my high school years, I now have responsibilities that claim my time, so it took a few days to complete the story, which is quite short at under 200 pages.
Also like my first read, I was hooked as soon as I started. The narrator draws you in with long sentences and hooks you with the mystery surrounding the oddly dressed “stranger” who “staggered into the Coach and Horses,” an inn in a small English village called Iping, on a wintry February day. I like that the pace is quick and appreciate the humor we get in how the villagers talk about the stranger and later react to the invisible man. The pace and humor made the story an entertaining and quick read.
Since there’s much mystery surrounding the invisible man when he appears, my curiosity about him was immediately piqued. I wanted to know why he seems so disgruntled and unhappy and wanted to know how he came to be invisible. I was surprised when we learn, couple chapters from the end, that his name is Griffin because I’d gotten so used to thinking of him as just the invisible man or the disembodied voice characters hear that I didn’t expect to get a name.
The invisible man gains more substance when we learn his name because with it comes his backstory. This made me think of dragons and other fantastical creatures in fantasy novels that don’t easily share their names because doing so can make them vulnerable to others. That’s exactly what happens in The Invisible Man. The invisible man shares his name for the first time when he is in a vulnerable position. From there, we get his backstory and learn of the terrible things he has done and plan to do.
A person’s name can be a powerful thing. Lord Voldemort does away with Tom Riddle to assume a title he considers to be powerful, but Dumbledore sometimes refers to and calls him by his given name to recall Lord Voldemort to who he was and thereby exert power over him. I think something similar occurs in The Invisible Man when the invisible man’s name is used. The invisible man is recalled to who he was before he became invisible, but doing so fuels his rage and exacerbates his madness.
I pitied the invisible man despite the monster he became. I kept thinking he could be redeemed. That he just needed to reconnect with society and be welcomed in a community. I understood how he must have felt living on the fringes of society because he was poor and an albino and how that drove him to become invisible only to realize that invisibility made him more ostracized. His experience made him bitter, angry, selfish; but I think he could have come back from that.
The end was unsettling. The invisible man was a threat that the villagers united against, yes; but he was also something unnatural that they didn’t understand and stomped out. He was detained, yet the mob of people proceeded to beat him to death because they could not see him, did not know him, and did not understand him. They didn’t even realize that they had killed, were killing, him.
Anyway, on another note, Thomas Marvel is one lucky fool, or maybe he knew what he was doing all along.
Overall: ★★★★☆ ½
A good read. I recommend it.