The Invisible Man | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The Invisible Man | Chapter 2 : Mr. Teddy Henfrey's First Impressions | Summary

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Summary

After darkness falls, Mrs. Hall uses the arrival of Teddy Henfrey, a clock-jobber, as an excuse to knock on the parlor door to see if Griffin wants tea. When they enter, he is sleeping, and once again, Griffin's appearance startles Mrs. Hall: "the white-bound head, the monstrous goggle eyes, and this huge yawn below it." When he awakens, Griffin tells Mrs. Hall he would like to be "alone and undisturbed," but he agrees to let Henfrey mend the clock. First, though, he repeats his request to have his luggage picked up and delivered that night. Mrs. Hall tells him it is not possible, which disappoints him. Griffin provides some personal information, telling Mrs. Hall: he is an experimental investigator; his luggage contains equipment for his work; he does not like to be disturbed when he is working; he had an accident that left his eyes weak and sensitive.

Henfrey tries to engage Griffin in conversation, but Griffin cuts him off after two words and rages at him to "finish and go." Peeved at being treated rudely, Henfrey leaves quickly. At Gleeson's corner, he runs into Mr. Hall (who is newly married to Mrs. Hall). Henfrey tells Mr. Hall about the new guest, suggesting Griffin, whose name they do not yet know, is in disguise and hiding from the police.

After Mr. Hall returns to the inn, he goes to the parlor to investigate the new guest. Griffin has retired to his room, but Hall examines a paper with mathematical computations left behind. Annoyed by her husband's suspicions, Mrs. Hall tells her husband not to meddle in her business. In the middle of the night, she awakens after a dream of white turnip-shaped heads with long necks and "vast black eyes."

Analysis

The most important action in this chapter happens when Henfrey plants the first seeds of suspicion of the stranger among the villagers. Mrs. Hall remains in Griffin's corner, but her husband and Henfrey clearly are not.

H.G. Wells develops the theme of knowledge by using light to represent growing awareness. When Mrs. Hall opens the parlor door, the glow of the fire and "the scanty vestiges of the day that came in through the open door" were the only light in the room. This dim light makes it difficult to see things clearly, and everything seems "ruddy, shadowy, and indistinct to her." Because of the limited light, Mrs. Hall does not trust her sight when she sees Griffin's wide, yawning mouth. Instead, she concludes the shadows have tricked her. She is searching for an explanation for the odd sight and, unable to conjure one, she doubts her senses.

Mrs. Hall's doubts are quelled, however, when Griffin shares some personal information. His comment, "I should explain ... what I was really too cold and fatigued to do before," shows self-awareness of how his prior rude behavior was unlikely to gain the innkeeper's cooperation so he could work without interruption. His more civilized tone and conversation suggests he has some humanity. This new behavior, however, appears to be driven more by self-motivation than consideration for other people.

Mrs. Hall demonstrates her quest for understanding with a line she repeats often: "If I might make so bold as to ask—," but Griffin cuts her off before she can make her inquiry. By this time they have established a pattern: Mrs. Hall attempts to obtain information by asking questions, and Griffin responds firmly in the negative.

Because Griffin does not perceive the need to satisfy Henfrey's curiosity, however, he sets in motion what will eventually drive him from the village. Henfrey is stung by Griffin's rude and abrupt manner and mulls over why Griffin treated him so poorly.

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