The Invisible Man | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The Invisible Man | Chapter 27 : The Siege of Kemp's House | Summary



Doctor Kemp receives a letter from Griffin in the one o'clock post. It announces the start of the "Terror," to be known as the "Epoch of the Invisible Man," and Griffin's intention to execute Kemp "for the sake of example." Kemp decides to set himself up as bait to capture Griffin. He secures the house, writes several notes, and sends his housemaid to deliver them to Colonel Adye. Adye arrives shortly after and informs him Griffin has assaulted the housemaid and snatched the notes out of her hand. While they discuss the situation, Griffin arrives at Kemp's house and breaks several windows. Adye leaves the house armed with Kemp's revolver. Griffin immediately approaches him and orders him to go back to the house. When Colonel Adye refuses, Griffin assaults him and manages to take the revolver. Adye agrees to help Griffin by trying to get back in Kemp's house. Instead, he rushes Griffin, and Griffin fatally shoots him.

Kemp sees the shooting from a window and assumes the game he has set in motion is "opening well." The housemaid and two policemen appear on the road. Doctor Kemp becomes alarmed when Griffin breaks through the kitchen shutters with an ax. After the housemaid and two policemen enter the house, Griffin, armed with Kemp's revolver and an ax, also gets inside. He tells the policemen he wants Kemp, and a policeman charges Griffin with a poker. Griffin fells him with his ax. The other policeman manages to hit Griffin with his poker, and Griffin flees Kemp's house. After the policemen's struggle with Griffin, they discover Doctor Kemp and his housemaid have also fled the house.


Griffin's letter to Doctor Kemp is akin to a political proclamation. It announces a new age, the "Epoch of the Invisible Man," and the plan to kill an enemy to advance the ruler's agenda. It also installs Griffin as the ruler of Port Burdock. Griffin's assertion that Kemp's execution will "impress my people" suggests he is acting not only on his own behalf, but for a group with a political agenda. Because Griffin has not claimed to have followers or to be acting for anyone's interests other than his own up to this point, Griffin may merely be alluding to his hoped-for future support by the submissive masses. Killing others to set an example is strikingly comparable to how contemporary terrorists and state-sanctioned terrorism operate. Or perhaps H.G. Wells, continuing with his themes centering on science in relation to morality and humanity, is suggesting that new scientific discoveries herald new ages and figuratively kill old ways of thinking and existing, which Griffin represents. Doctor Kemp figuratively represents the outdated ways.

If Griffin is allowed to assume his desired role as a totalitarian ruler, he will no longer be a hypothetical threat but the greatest threat the region has ever known. His invisibility gives him powers no other human has possessed. Kemp recognizes this danger and is willing to use himself as bait because he has confidence he can outwit Griffin. Doctor Kemp uses the phrase contra mundum—Latin for "against the world" to describe Griffin's ideas; essentially, all that Griffin is and stands for. This declaration is an affirmation that good will triumph over evil, that morality will triumph over corruption and abuses of power.
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