The Invisible Man | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The Invisible Man | Chapter 12 : The Invisible Man Loses His Temper | Summary



Mr. Hall and Teddy Henfrey hear unusual sounds coming from the parlor and smell an "unpleasant chemical odour." They rap on the door and ask if everything is all right. Although Bunting replies it is and tells them not to interrupt, Hall and Henfrey are not reassured. They continue to eavesdrop and hear bits of an agitated conversation and what "sounds like throwing the table-cloth about." Mrs. Hall catches the two eavesdroppers, and before she can send them on their way, she sees a door across from the inn open. Huxter, the shopkeeper, appears and calls out, "Stop thief!" and then runs across the yard.

Everyone in the tap except Mrs. Hall rushes outside and sees Huxter make a "complicated leap in the air" and fall down. People on the street join the crowd and chase after Marvel. Griffin stays behind and tackles Mr. Hall, a laborer, and three passersby. He throws Hall through the air, trips the laborer, and tackles the others. The fallen men are then "kicked, knelt on, fallen over and cursed" by the crowd chasing after Marvel.

Inside the inn, a trouser-less Cuss rushes out of the parlor and calls for people to hold Griffin. He tells them, "Don't let him drop the parcel! You can see him so long as he holds the parcel." Unbeknownst to Cuss, Griffin has already passed the parcel to his accomplice and is no longer visible. Once outside, Cuss "join[s] the tumult," where he, too, is "knocked off his feet into an indecorous sprawl."

Griffin then goes on a rampage. He destroys the festival booths, breaks all the inn's windows, and hurls a streetlamp through a window before leaving Iping for good. The villagers flee to hiding places and the streets remain deserted for "the best part of two hours before any human being venture[s] out again."


Marvel proves himself an adept accomplice, and recovers Griffin's research diaries. The two men have a unique synergy. Griffin holds the power and has persuaded Marvel to accompany him by using threats. At the same time, Griffin is dependent on Marvel to carry tangible items so he can remain undetectable.

This is a major turning point in the novel. Griffin is now on the run and unable to do his research. His focus will be on eluding capture while finding shelter and sustenance.

Griffin's initial use of physical force is to prevent several men from chasing Marvel so he can escape. Griffin continues his violence, however, long after Marvel has successfully eluded capture. There seems no reason for his destructive spree other than an appetite for terror, with the narrator noting, "He set to smiting and overthrowing, for the mere satisfaction of hurting." This illustrates not only his temper and rage, but a willful malevolence and a lack of humanity. Yet the narrator raises the possibility of Griffin's humanity by describing "an occasional flitting eye" as "the only visible humanity" on the streets of Iping. Readers wonder: Is humanity ever invisible? Is it possible Griffin has any humanity? Is he merely a mad scientist run amok?

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