The Invisible Man | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The Invisible Man | Chapter 15 : The Man Who Was Running | Summary



As Doctor Kemp sits in his study near Burdock, he looks out a window and sees a man running down a hillside. (The man is Marvel and he is fleeing from Griffin.) The townsfolk also notice him, but unlike Doctor Kemp, they notice "the abject terror on his perspiring face," "dilated eyes," and the foam on his lips. This makes them stop and stare, and they gather and start talking about the odd sight with "an inkling of discomfort."

Panic breaks out when Griffin passes them. The townsfolk sense something like a wind or "a sound like a panting breathing" rush by, and they start screaming and make a mad dash for their houses. Marvel is still racing toward the town's street, and he yells out, "The Invisible Man is coming!"


Two clues show Marvel is attempting an escape with Griffin's money: Kemp notices Marvel is having trouble running, as "if his pockets were full of lead," and the townsfolk hear clinking "like a well-filled purse that is tossed to and fro" as he runs.

The descriptions of Doctor Kemp reveal he is a scholarly scientist who considers himself on par with the best scientists of the world as demonstrated by his desire for a fellowship in the Royal Society. Founded in 1660, the Royal Society is made up of the most renowned scientists in the world. Its members have been on the forefront of scientific discoveries, and it has published breaking developments by scientists such as Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, and Charles Darwin. Kemp not only prides himself on being among the elite scientists of the day, but of accepting the most current scientific theories, such as evolution. He has contempt for the townsfolk who are caught up in the hype about the Invisible Man. He considers them ignorant and devoid of scientific knowledge. His remark "One might think we were in the thirteenth century" refers to a time period in which the West was cut off from Greek philosophers and scientific progress in the West slowed. His comment is an example of dramatic irony because Kemp himself is a disbeliever in the development of invisibility Griffin has advanced, and he is about to come face to face with something he considers others foolish for believing in.

The motifs of light and windows are present throughout the chapter. Kemp sits in a study with three windows, the windows allowing him to observe the world in all directions but one. The inability to view the world in all directions represents Kemp's lack of awareness of the science of invisibility. He is studying in a room with ample light, both illumination from the sun and a lamp, representing his ability to access knowledge about the world. A sunset blazes at the moment he sees Marvel running down the hill. A sunset represents an ending, such as of a life. It also foreshadows the mystery that the darkness of night suggests. In this situation the sunset foreshadows the ending of Kemp's present scientific knowledge base. He will soon experience a mystery that will overturn his present beliefs and force him to accept new ideas.

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