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Invisibility: A Representation of the Loneliness and Evil of PowerNameScience Fiction and FantasyProfessor Christopher ShinnFinal PaperDecember 16, 2013The genres of science fiction and fantasy share similar qualities in that the authors writing within these realms of fiction often attempt to make some judgment about the world in which
2they live. H. G. Wells, known as the “father of modern day science fiction,” claimed he belonged to a separate genre—one he entitled the “scientific romance” (Stover 2). As recalled by Leon Stover, editor of the 1897 New York First Edition of The Invisible Man: A Grotesque Romance, Wells argued that “the scientific romances were a more serious means ‘to discuss sociology in fable’” (Stover 2). These “fantastical romances with an ideological slant” provided Wells with an innovative method of relaying his background in scientific knowledge in a relatable way, and despite his attempts to distance himself from the world of science fiction, his expertise in the fields of science and his powerful ability to recount a story allowed him to retain his title in the genre (Stover 2). Similarly, J.R.R Tolkien also finds himself renowned in his field of fantasy, although he generally centers upon, as Deborah and Ivor Rogers note in their biography of the author, the “concrete matter of how one is to live” as opposed to those more ideological issues of Wells (Rogers & Rogers 119). Both authors use fantastical and inventive tactics to relay their judgments on the world—specifically, the concept of invisibility appears on multiple occasions in many of their works. Both directly and indirectly represented in Wells’ science fiction works, The Invisible Man and The Time Machine,and in Tolkien’s fantasy novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, invisibility embodies the contrast between the evil that lies in the human lust for power and the profound loneliness that results from this power. Invisibility as a representation of power, whether evil or simply for the purpose of utility, is not a new concept, as it has its roots in mythology. As editor Leon Stover suggests in the introduction to his annotated version of Wells’ The Invisible Man, “the idea of invisibility itself is ancient” (Stover 12). In Greek mythology, the goddess Athena presents Perseus with a helmet of invisibility, so that he might “pursue a mission of justice to right the wrongs done him” (Stover 12). This depiction of the power of invisibility serves the purpose of restoring what injustice had
3Toccitainted—rather than an evil, the helmet given to the mighty mythological hero, Perseus, illustrates a good power, an omniscient power, used to combat these supposed “wrongs” (Stover 12). In contrast to this representation of invisibility as a righteous and useful power, Plato’s retelling of the story of the Ring of Gyges, according to Mark Shell’s analysis on the subject, presents the “tyrannic power of invisibility” on which Plato asserts his positions about “virtue and justice” (Shell 29). This Ring allows its owner, Gyges, to seduce a queen, murder a king, and