The Invisible Man | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The Invisible Man | Chapter 24 : The Plan That Failed | Summary



Griffin tells Doctor Kemp he plans to move to the South, where the weather is more accommodating for a naked invisible man. As Griffin talks, Doctor Kemp sees three men approaching his house. Griffin implores Kemp to join him, to be his "confederate." He outlines his plan to conduct a "Reign of Terror," to "take some town like your Burdock and terrify and dominate it." Once he has dominated it, he will kill anyone who defies his orders.

As Doctor Kemp hears the sounds of someone entering his house, he realizes the police have arrived. He talks louder to conceal their presence, but Griffin hears footsteps on the stairs. He calls Kemp a traitor and begins to disrobe. Kemp attempts to flee the room and lock Griffin in it, but Griffin tackles him and prevents his departure. Colonel Adye arrives on the staircase to see Kemp "followed by the extraordinary sight of clothing tossing empty in the air." Griffin pushes Kemp to the ground. He then violently strikes Adye, grips his throat, and knees his groin. Griffin races out of the house, rushing past the two police officers in the hall.


Griffin is not satisfied with just being an invisible man. He wants to go to Spain or Algiers so he "might always be invisible—and yet live. And do things." The South, including Spain and Algiers, continue to be sites of British tourism, where British subjects might feel they can let go of strict moral codes for a short while. This geographic movement suggests Griffin sees Spain or Morocco as more permissive spaces than England, a common imperialist view of less-developed or less economically successful nations. His plan for a reign of terror shows he has given up trying to reverse his invisibility; he wants absolute power, and aims to use it for ruthless, immoral purposes. His description—"This invisibility ... it's particularly useful, therefore, in killing. I can walk round a man, whatever weapon he has, choose my point, strike as I like"—reveals he is devoid of all humanity. Griffin wants to install himself as an autocratic ruler over the townspeople and demand they do as he bids, or he will kill them. This is the very essence of power without morality.

By capitalizing the phrase "Reign of Terror," the narrator links Griffin's plans to the French Revolution. The Reign of Terror refers to a period in the French Revolution in which the Revolutionary government executed suspected opponents to the revolutionary cause. Griffin, however, reveals no plan to carry out a reign of terror for a political purpose, such as to effect a new world order or promote a socialist society.

Griffin views other humans merely as instruments to carry out his plans. His description of Marvel as a moneybox and luggage carrier dehumanizes him. He similarly wants to use Doctor Kemp to help execute his plans. While he calls Kemp a confederate, all he really wants is a human body to do what he cannot—provide money, food, and a safe hiding place. Again, he has stripped Kemp of his humanity by intending to use him as a vessel devoid of free will.

Doctor Kemp has a strict moral code, in contrast to Griffin's character. Just as in an earlier chapter when he struggles with his conscience over breaking his word, he faces a moral dilemma when Griffin asks if he had told anyone he was at his house. This reinforces the idea that Doctor Kemp is fair, moral, and ethical. The contrast between the two characters continues to make the point that science, when combined with ethics and morals, has the potential to be good and useful. It is science running amok that is destructive.

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