The Invisible Man | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The Invisible Man | Chapter 6 : The Furniture That Went Mad | Summary

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Summary

On the day of the burglary at the vicarage, Mr. and Mrs. Hall are up early and in the cellar diluting the beer. Mr. Hall goes upstairs for a forgotten item and notices that the stranger's door is ajar. Coming back down the stairs, he sees the "bolts of the front door had been shot back." Distinctly remembering watching Mrs. Hall set the bolts before bed, he becomes suspicious of the stranger and enters his bedroom. It appears to be empty, adding to Mr. Hall's suspicion. He rushes to the cellar to tell his wife, and they both come upstairs to check the bedroom. As they do so, they hear the front door open and shut, and sneezing. In the bedroom, they witness inanimate objects—including the bedclothes, stranger's hat, sponge, furniture, and clothes—move about the room. They hear laughing "in a voice singularly like the stranger's." A chair charges Mrs. Hall, pressing "firmly against her back and impell[ing] her and Mr. Hall out of the room." The door is then slammed and locked.

Mrs. Hall attributes what she has seen to spirits. She wants to lock Griffin out of the inn, believing he is the cause of the evil spirits. Wanting the expertise of a "knowing man," she sends Millie to awaken Mr. Wadgers, the blacksmith, and bring him to the inn. After Wadgers arrives, Mr. Huxter and his apprentice join the Halls and discuss busting down Griffin's door. The question becomes moot when the door opens and a fully dressed Griffin appears. He walks down the stairs and into the parlor, then turns and "swiftly, viciously, slam[s] the door in their faces." After gathering his courage, Mr. Hall knocks on the parlor door to demand an explanation. Griffin shouts invectives through the door and does not open it.

Analysis

This chapter is a turning point for Mrs. Hall. After seeing inanimate objects "leaping and dancing," she stops defending Griffin and wants him to leave the inn. She finally joins the majority of villagers who believe he's not what he seems to be.

Several themes are developed in this chapter. Griffin reveals an aspect of his personality that is more than just irritable and lacking social skills. He forcibly removes Mrs. Hall from his room, albeit he does so "gently but firmly." His gentleness suggests he terrorizes the group in his own defense: to protect himself and get rid of the intruders. Yet, he blithely tells Mr. Hall to "go to the devil." The reader will likely wonder if he is a good man up against great difficulties, or an evil man willing to harm others in order to advance his agenda? Does he have any humanity, or does he only think of himself and his own needs?

The theme of invisibility is developed by showing the omnipotence, or godlike power, Griffin's invisibility grants him. Griffin can go places without detection as long as he does not wear his clothes. He can steal from people; he can fight with people with little fear of being fought in return. But the limits of his invisibility are evident. Like other mortals he makes noise when he moves, he sneezes, he laughs. He cannot pass through doors, and he leaves evidence of his presence when he unlocks them.

The observers are no longer able to ignore what is obvious—even though they have no explanation for it. They need to make sense of something that defies their understanding of the world. Mrs. Hall attempts to define the unknown by attributing the moving objects to possession by spirits. The contrast between her belief in the supernatural and a rational, scientific approach (such as that advocated by the positivism approach) is evident when Mr. Wadgers proceeds in a logical fashion, calling for the facts before he draws any conclusions.

H.G. Wells often uses adjectives as a stylistic device to point to his underlying messages. In Chapter 1 he uses the phrase "human man"Mrs. Hall says the stranger does not look like a human man—to signify Griffin's coldness and lack of human attributes. In this chapter he writes "golden five o'clock sunshine" to describe the quality of light when Millie leaves the inn to get a "knowing man." The use of two adjectives—golden and five o'clock—signifies that this is no ordinary sunshine at dawn, but light of a momentous nature. Golden is a metaphor for greatness, such as a gold medal. Five o'clock is a metaphor for dawn, or the moment when objects come to light, or become known. Sunshine is a metaphor for illumination of the truth. Using triple imagery heightens the significance of this event and foreshadows that this moment will eventually lead to the discovery of who—and what—this stranger is.

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