Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

Author: H.G. Wells
Origianlly Published: 1897
Length: 208 pages
Source: Library
Challenge(s): 1001+, Classics Club

Personal Enjoyment Factor:3/5

Ambition--what is the good of pride of place when you cannot appear there?  What is the good of the love of a woman when her name must needs be Delilah?  I have no taste for politics, for the blackguardisms of fame, for philanthropy, for sport. What was I to do?  And for this I had become a wrapped-up mystery, a swathed and bandaged caricature of a man.

When it comes to the magical objects of the Harry Potter world, the Time-Turner tops my list for most coveted items.  The Pensieve is high on the list as well--my brain could use a thorough decluttering.  But I have to admit that the Invisibility Cloak would be pretty cool.  I have no nefarious purposes for it in mind--I don't want to steal or cheat, I have no authority figures I need to hide or run from, and I do NOT want to know what people are saying about me behind my back. No, I just want to use it to go on errands with messy hair and pajamas without fear of ending up in a People of Walmart video.

Why does Griffin, our brilliant scientist who discovers a formula to make himself invisible, want to be unseen by the world?  In current movies and books, we have gotten used to sympathizing with the villain,  trying to figure out how he got to be the way he is, finding excuses for him, hating his behavior but wanting to give him a big hug.  In The Invisible Man, you just want to give the guy a good slap in the face.  Sure, he is an albino when visible, which might cause the reader to try to make some sort of psychological analysis about how he may have been ignored by his associates for being different, and his obsession with his experiments was a way to prove himself and be valued by society.  But this sliver of sympathy is grossly overshadowed by the fact that the guy is a textbook psychopath.  He never takes responsibility for his actions, cares nothing for the feelings of others, and has no feelings of guilt for the crimes he commits.  So what does he actually gain from being invisible?  Well, he gets a cold, and the side effects of the drugs are remarkably similar to a bad case of PMS. 

I'll admit, I would have been cranky too.  Griffin may have unlocked the secrets of invisibility, but he has no clue how to make himself visible again.   He either has to wrap himself up with bandages and don a curious outfit, or walk naked in the cold.  I'm sure he would have appreciated a good invisibility cloak!  But the world Wells creates is not magic, it's scientific.  He gives such a detailed and believable description of how Griffin's formula works, that the reader is able to suspend disbelief.  Now I just need to suspend my mental image of a naked albino.