The Invisible Man | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The Invisible Man | Character Analysis



Griffin, born with albinism, is a former chemistry student who discovers a way to make himself invisible. Before undergoing the process, he dreams of all the power he will have once he is undetectable to humankind. However, after he becomes invisible, Griffin realizes there are many disadvantages to invisibility and his powers are essentially useless—he can rob and kill, but he cannot enjoy his spoils, isolated from society. Griffin retreats to a country village to conduct experiments and find a way to reverse his invisibility. Already an outcast, Griffin's isolation worsens. Unfettered by moral constrictions, he abides by an "end justifies the means" philosophy, and tramples anyone or anything obstructing his goal. His visions of grandeur expand, and he attempts to take over a village and become a tyrannical ruler. Local townspeople, with the help of a former classmate of Griffin's, Doctor Kemp, who is an ethical scientist, manage to stop Griffin's reign of terror, and the Invisible Man dies violently, exposed for all to see.


Marvel is always trying to con his way out of a difficult situation. While lazing in a field one day, he meets Griffin by chance. Using death threats, Griffin forces Marvel to help him in his quest to retrieve his belongings and steal money. Marvel, the practiced conman, meets a formidable foe in Griffin, but manages to outwit him, save his own life, and keep the money Griffin makes him steal. He uses the stolen money to buy an inn and reinvent himself, becoming a respected member of society.

Doctor Kemp

Doctor Kemp is an ambitious and arrogant, yet ethical, scientist who considers himself on par with the world-renowned scientists who are members of the elite Royal Society. Unlike a physician who sees patients or Griffin who conducts experiments, Doctor Kemp keeps to books and thoughts. He prides himself on his intelligence and morality and considers himself an ideal member of society. When Griffin, the Invisible Man who is also a former university classmate of Kemp's, shows up at Doctor Kemp's house one night, he is forced to admit invisibility is possible and that he does not know as much about science as he believed. However, after hearing about Griffin's violent outbursts and plans to use his invisibility to kill and steal, Doctor Kemp takes a moral high ground and betrays Griffin. Griffin sets out to kill him. Doctor Kemp uses himself as bait to capture Griffin, but when his plan fails, he becomes the hunted and leads Griffin to a town where a mob kills him.

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