The Invisible Man is a science fiction novella by H G Wells. Originally serialized in Pearson's Weekly in 1897, it was published as a novel the same year.
A mysterious man,
Griffin, arrives at the local inn 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 fake pink nose; and he
wears a wide-brimmed hat.
He is excessively
reclusive, irascible, and unfriendly. 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. While Griffin is staying at the inn,
hundreds of strange glass bottles (that he calls his luggage) arrive. Many local
townspeople believe this to be very strange. He becomes the talk of the
Griffin runs out of money
and cannot pay for his board and lodging. When his landlady demands that he pay
his bill and quit the premises, he reveals part of his invisibility to her in a
fit of pique. An attempt to apprehend him is frustrated when he undresses to
take advantage of his invisibility, fights off his would-be captors, and flees
to the Downs.
There Griffin coerces a
tramp, Thomas Marvel, into becoming his assistant. With Marvel, he returns to
the village to recover three notebooks that contain records of his experiments.
When Marvel attempts to betray the Invisible Man to the police, Griffin chases
him to the seaside town of Port Burdock, threatening to kill him. Marvel escapes
to a local inn and is saved by the people at the inn, but Griffin escapes.
Marvel later goes to the police and tells them of this ‘invisible man’, then
requests to be locked up in a high-security jail.
Griffin's furious attempt
to avenge his betrayal leads to his being shot. He 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: he is a former medical student
who left medicine to devote himself to optics. Griffin recounts how he invented
chemicals capable of rendering bodies invisible, and, on impulse, performed the
procedure on himself.
Griffin burned down the
boarding house he was staying in, along with all the equipment he used to turn
invisible, to cover his tracks; but he soon realised that he was ill-equipped to
survive in the open. He attempted to steal food and clothes from a large
department store, and eventually stole some clothing from a theatrical supply
shop and headed to Iping to attempt to reverse the invisibility. Now he imagines
that he can make Kemp his secret confederate, describing his plan to begin a
‘Reign of Terror’ by using his invisibility to terrorise the nation.
Kemp reports Griffin to
the local authorities and when they arrive Griffin fights his way out. The next
day he leaves a note announcing that Kemp himself will be the first man to be
killed in the ‘Reign of Terror’. Kemp, a cool-headed character, tries to
organise a plan to use himself as bait to trap the Invisible Man, but a note
that he sends is stolen from his servant by Griffin.
Griffin uses Kemp's gun
to shoot and injure a local policeman who comes to Kemp's aid, then breaks into
Kemp's house. Kemp bolts for the town, where the local citizenry come to his
aid. Griffin is seized, assaulted, and killed by a mob. The Invisible Man's
naked, battered body gradually becomes visible as he dies. A local policeman
shouts to have someone cover Griffin's face with a sheet, then the book
In the final chapter, it
is revealed that Marvel has secretly kept Griffin's notes but is completely
incapable of understanding them.