The Invisible Man
by H.G. Wells
The Invisible Man Theme of Isolation
The Invisible Man is about a guy with no friends, no family, and, well, just no one at all. It seems like no matter where he finds himself, he's isolated from the larger community – he's as alone in Iping as he is in London. If the Invisible Man were just a hermit who lived alone by choice, that would be one thing. But our guy is a genius scientist who is surrounded by people; they just don't understand him. That might be the worst form of isolation: surrounded by people but always alone. And it's worth mentioning that some critics think that science becomes dangerous when it's isolated from the larger community; if we think of Griffin as a symbol for science-gone-wrong, this makes a lot of sense.
Questions About Isolation
- Are any of the other characters in this book isolated? Maybe the costume shop owner from Chapter 23? He's described as alone – but is "alone" the same thing as "isolated"?
- How is the Invisible Man isolated? Is it mostly because of his physical issues (i.e. he's stinkin' invisible)? Or is he mentally isolated, too?
- At first, the Invisible Man claims that all his best work happens when he's alone (19.37). Then he notes that a man can't accomplish much alone (24.22). Those ideas seem contradictory, but are they? Does the Invisible Man have a change of tune? And does Wells seem to take a particular side on the issue?
- Many critics think this novel shows us that isolation is a bad thing. Do you agree? Or are there some ways in which isolation is a good thing? Would the Invisible Man be better off, for instance, if there were no people around him at all?
Chew on This
The Invisible Man shows us that a person will become a monster when isolated from the rest of humanity.
Griffin is the cause of his own isolation. If he reached out to other people, he wouldn't be in the same position.