The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (published 1897) is another fascinating science fiction look at the implications of a changing world of acceptance. The titular character in this story, Griffin, is an albino who had once studied medicine. Tired of being marginalized for his strange appearance, he undergoes medical experiments, ultimately succeeding in creating a formula for invisibility. He hopes that by being invisible, he can blend in with his environment, get back at those who have marginalized him, and seek power and glory by gaining access previously denied him.
His anticipated advantages to being invisible, however, are compromised by the new unexpected difficulties of being invisible. For example, he is only invisible if he is not wearing clothing. Likewise, as he eats, the food he eats remains visible in his stomach until fully incorporated into his body. Therefore, he is unable to complete his desired goals without being exposed to the elements and starving.
As he seeks a cure to reverse the invisibility formula, Griffin becomes increasingly insane in his desire for revenge. The people of the towns he visits begin with being unaccepting and terrified of the strange invisible man, and these bad feelings only deteriorate as Griffin becomes crazed for power and recognition.
The Invisible Man is both suspenseful and intriguing. I did not wish to stop reading, for I was unsure which direction Wells was headed with his science fiction adventure. Would he create terror out of this man or would Wells lead it back to a political statement about acceptance or social class? The book became increasingly more of a terror-filled story, and yet, I believe Wells’ statements were still political. Through this story, Wells questions the rash judgments of society but also underscores personality as a reason for judgment rather than appearance.
In the end, while I am sure there is more to The Invisible Man than I have explored, I greatly enjoyed it for the entertainment factor. As a short novella, it provided just the right amount of intrigue and excitement for me (a reader who does not like terror-filled adventures). I look forward to reading the other account of an invisible man, the novel by Ralph Ellison about race.