The Invisible Man | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The Invisible Man | Chapter 14 : At Port Stowe | Summary



Marvel and Griffin go to Port Stowe. While Griffin steals coins from a banking company, shops, and inns, Marvel sits on a bench outside an inn. An elderly mariner joins him and tells Marvel about a newspaper story of an invisible man in the area. Marvel quizzes him to find out if the article mentions the Invisible Man's having any pals. After checking to make sure the Invisible Man is not present, Marvel tells the mariner he has information about the Invisible Man. Before he can confide in him, Griffin assaults his ear. Marvel informs the mariner that the reports of an invisible man are a hoax as Griffin pulls him away.

The mariner watches as Marvel is "suddenly whirled about" and moves "in a curious spasmodic manner" and with "occasional violent jerks." He observes Marvel's walking down the road talking to himself in a way suggesting "protests and recriminations." Later that day, the elderly mariner hears a report about "a fist full of money ... travelling without visible agency" and a man who grabbed at the money, only to be knocked down.


The new setting marks another shift in the novel. Griffin is not only on the run, but he has returned to crime to finance his research and get sustenance. Marvel's attempt to confide in the elderly mariner appears to be an impulsive attempt to escape. His plan is thwarted by Griffin's reappearance, with Griffin's invisibility making him appear to be both omniscient and omnipresent.

The narrator uses the word "extraordinary" to further develop the plot and themes of knowledge and invisibility. The mariner's comment about books containing "extra-ordinary things" refers to knowledge. The hyphen in "extra-ordinary" elevates the degree of ordinariness. It is far more than ordinary—but not supernatural; H.G. Wells makes certain to ground his fantasy in science. Anything grounded in science, however fantastical, can suddenly sound believable.

The narrator also describes the newspaper report about the Invisible Man and the evidence to support the story as "extraordinary." During this discussion, Marvel comes up with "a strange and novel idea"—to use the stranger to change his personal situation. Griffin's invisibility, however, proves more powerful than Marvel's idea, showing that invisibility has the greater degree of "extra" ordinariness.
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