Book Review: The Invisible Man by HG Wells
The Invisible Man Unmasked: A guest post by Lana Zacharczuk
Imagine there is a person who is a kind of outcast, because he looks a little different from everyone else. The fact that he is scientifically brilliant is not of any mind to society. Now assume it is the late nineteenth century in England, where science is looked upon with suspicion and superstition. What are the odds that this individual would develop a grudge against the world in which he lives?
“The Invisible Man” is just the character that would emerge from such a situation.
While I believe that nearly every story is a commentary on society, this novel demonstrates the differences between beliefs in the early twentieth century versus those of today, particularly those of the average person. The little town where the story begins does not know what to make of the stranger who comes to stay at the local inn. They wonder if he is disfigured because he is completely covered from head to toe. At one point when his leg is revealed as black, the townsfolk’s naivety convinces him that perhaps he is of mixed white and black heritage, and that the colors didn’t blend completely so he is colored in patches.
Though he may have felt alone throughout his life, his isolation as a true invisible man takes a mental toll on him. If there is a lesson to be learned from this, it is to be careful what one wishes for. He did not stop to consider the negative aspects of being unseen.
Perhaps if he had used his abilities for good, he would have had an easier adjustment to his new life. He could have even become a superhero.
Instead he let his grudges and biases, his fears and paranoia, get the better of him. He goes rotten, hoping to become a figurehead of evil. Yet, the one thing he was good for, he was terrible at. His crimes are witnessed even though he cannot be seen. He did not foresee that he still would be vulnerable, which ultimately seals his fate.
This book was, if not the first, definitely one of the earliest science fiction novels. Though much has changed since its printing, it seems that people are still uncomfortable with the unknown. Also, one is bound to have weird and unusual people living in their building. I have my own example of that, and though my neighbor was by no means brilliant, I believe he was also capable of burning the building down. The greatest thing, though, that has remained unchanged is that competition is still brutal in academic science, just as it was in the book.
Lana Zacharczuk is an accountant and a voracious reader. She has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in accounting. She also has a B.A. in German, and has studied at the University of Munich. She enjoys reading business literature, as well as fiction, particularly the work of John Irving as of late. You can get in touch with Lana on either Facebook or Linked In.