The Invisible Man | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The Invisible Man | Chapter 28 : The Hunter Hunted | Summary

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Summary

After Doctor Kemp's nearest neighbor, Mr. Heelas, awakens from a nap in his garden, he sees Kemp and his housemaid climbing out the window of Kemp's trashed house and racing away. He connects their racing, the house's broken windows, and the reports of the Invisible Man and concludes, "The Invisible Man is coming." He runs inside, where he and his servants shut the windows just as Kemp appears and tries to enter his house. Heelas tells Kemp he can't come in, even though he is sorry the Invisible Man is after him.

Kemp runs down the hill into Burdock's town center. The townspeople stare at Kemp as he passes. When he hears the "swift pad of his pursuer," he shouts out, "The Invisible Man!" warning everyone. After running through the streets, he ends up near the end of the tramline. Several men are in fighting mode, "slashing viciously with a spade" and striking out. Before they can form a cordon around Griffin, Griffin attacks Doctor Kemp and they engage in a life-or-death struggle. A navvy strikes Griffin with a spade, and Griffin releases his grip on Doctor Kemp's throat. Kemp grabs Griffin's unseen elbows and calls for help holding him down. A group of men rush Griffin and beat and kick him. Griffin screams out for mercy, so Kemp tells everyone to get back. As Kemp examines Griffin's injuries, he realizes his ministrations are futile—Griffin's heart is not beating. Griffin's body then progressively becomes visible. The crowd watches in fascination until the "bruised and broken body of a young man about thirty" appears. Someone covers Griffin's body, and they carry him into the Jolly Cricketers.

Analysis

Griffin's body is given the dignity in death he was not afforded in life as the Invisible Man. Stripped of his invisibility, the crowd perceives him as a mere mortal, not a feared man bent on terror. The crowd shows their humanity by covering his body with a sheet and removing him from the street. Once Griffin is dead and no longer feared, he is perceived as a human, not a monster. This happens before his body becomes visible, showing it is not his invisibility that made Griffin inhumane, but his character.

Doctor Kemp, for all his thoughtful planning, has failed to plan for a safeguard should his baiting of Griffin backfire. It did backfire, and Kemp realizes it when he is alone on a road without means of help, as everyone is locked and barred inside "by his orders." In this way, he shares something in common with Griffin: Both acted methodically when executing an experiment or a plan, but both failed to think things through completely. Aware of his failure to create a backup plan should he find himself outside without protection, Kemp faults the townspeople for not keeping "a lookout for an eventuality like this!" The townspeople, however, soon demonstrate that Kemp is not in his self-created predicament on his own. They save Kemp from Griffin, but act more violently than they need to after the immediate danger has passed. In a case of situational irony, Kemp did not prepare for the eventuality of a mob's acting on their rage and fears. He fails to fully consider the potential consequences, or eventualities, of his game to bait Griffin. This raises questions about the humanity of the crowd and Doctor Kemp. Was killing Griffin the only option, or could he have been detained without mortal violence? Who bears the responsibility for Griffin's death?

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