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The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man

by H.G. Wells

The Invisible Man Chapter 20 Summary

At the House in Great Portland Street

  • Back at Kemp's house, Kemp offers his chair to Griffin, mostly to get Griffin away from the window.
  • Griffin continues his story: after his dad died, he moved into a cheap boardinghouse in London to continue his research.
  • He did go to his dad's funeral (which is awfully nice of him), but he didn't really feel sorry for him. You may gather this if you're a very careful reader and read the following sentence: "I did not feel a bit sorry for my father" (20.7).
  • In fact, except for his research, the whole world seemed distant and unimportant to Griffin.
  • His research, Griffin adds, is all written down in a code in his books, except for a few parts that he chose to remember himself. Just in case the code wasn't enough.
  • Back at the boardinghouse, Griffin continued his experiments. He made some wool invisible and then he made a neighborhood cat invisible. That cat experiment took a few tries, and the cat didn't seem to like it so much.
  • Unfortunately for Griffin, the cat's noise attracted an old woman who lived in the boardinghouse and who had always suspected Griffin of vivisecting animals. (Around this time, England was making some anti-vivisection laws. Check out The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), for the story of a scientist who is doing research on animals.) Eventually, though, Griffin got annoyed by the cat and let it out.
  • Then, as usually happens when one gives away his only friend, Griffin had a little breakdown. He started to have nightmares and was no longer interested in his work. But he took some strychnine (a drug) and felt energized. He is really a terrible role model.
  • At one point, the old woman and the landlord came up to make sure that Griffin wasn't experimenting on animals. They got into a little bit of a fight, which ended with Griffin pushing the landlord out of his room.
  • Realizing that this would lead to trouble, Griffin decided to disappear.
  • He sent his books off by mail to some place where he could pick them up. Then he started the process of turning himself invisible, which really hurt. (It almost makes him feel bad for that cat that he experimented on.) During the process, the landlord tried to give Griffin an eviction notice, but Griffin already looked so strange that the landlord kind of ran away.
  • At some point, Griffin became almost totally invisible, except that "an attenuated pigment still remained behind the retina of my eyes, fainter than mist" (20.46).
  • The landlord and his stepsons tried to break in, which angered Griffin so much that he planned to burn down the house. But he couldn't find any matches. Darn.
  • When the landlord and company finally broke down the door, they couldn't find Griffin. Turns out he was hiding outside the window, "quivering with anger" (20.49).
  • Griffin destroyed his equipment, found some matches, and set his room on fire because "[i]t was the only way to cover my trail—and no doubt it was insured" (20.55).
  • Now that he was invisible, he started thinking about "the wild and wonderful" things he could do as an Invisible Man (20.55). Shmoop has some ideas, too, but we'll let you use your imagination.

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