The Invisible Man
by H.G. Wells
The Invisible Man Theme of Identity
Invisible Man or Mystery Man? For most of the book, the identity of the Invisible Man is completely unknown to us. He starts off in Iping simply as "the stranger," is revealed in Chapter 7 as the Invisible Man, and only in Chapter 17 do we learn his real name: Griffin. (He never gets a first name.) But identity in The Invisible Man isn't just about people's names; it's also about their occupations, their personalities, and the role they play in their communities. So is there really any stable identity in this book? That is, if you take a scientific genius from a large city and put him in a small town, will he act the same way?
Questions About Identity
- The Invisible Man has the most issues with identity (we think), but what about the other characters? Is there any mystery about Kemp's identity? (That is, is his role within his community uncertain? Does his position change?)
- Did you identify less with Griffin when he was just known as "the stranger"? Can we empathize more with characters whose names we know?
- How does identity differ according to location and community? For instance, is identity the same in London as it is in Burdock? Is Kemp's identity the same in the scientific community as it is within the community of Burdock?
- We may learn more about a character as the book goes on, but do characters' identities really change that much? For instance, does the Invisible Man change over the course of the book?
Chew on This
In The Invisible Man, the narrator shows us characters' identities both through their actions, as part of a community, and through their thoughts, as isolated individuals.
Identity may be hidden in The Invisible Man, but it does not change.