Study Guide

The Invisible Man Betrayal

By H.G. Wells


Chapter 6

Their business there was of a private nature, and had something to do with the specific gravity of their beer. (6.2)

There are some big betrayals in this book, but let's start with just a small amount of cheating. Mr. and Mrs. Hall water down their beer. It's a tiny betrayal of their customers – it's not like they're poisoning the beer, right? Still, it shows that the Halls value money more than they value honesty.

Chapter 9
The Invisible Man (a.k.a. Griffin, the Stranger)

"But if you betray me," he said, "if you fail to do as I direct you—" (9.71)

The Invisible Man is not a very trusting individual. As soon as he gets a partner, he starts talking about betrayal. It's almost as if the Invisible Man <em>expects</em> people to turn against him. Why might this be?

Chapter 12

But his temper, at no time very good, seems to have gone completely at some chance blow, and forthwith he set to smiting and overthrowing, for the mere satisfaction of hurting. (12.48)

Is it possible to betray yourself? The Invisible Man constantly makes bad decisions or has unhelpful reactions. Instead of being nice to people (which would get him what he wants most of the time), he's kind of a Grinch. Instead of being secretive, he becomes incredibly violent (as he does here). The Invisible Man can't trust others, but it sure seems like he can't trust himself either.

Chapter 17
The Invisible Man (a.k.a. Griffin, the Stranger)

The Invisible Man appeared to be regarding Kemp. "Because I've a particular objection to being caught by my fellow-men," he said slowly […]

"Fool that I am!" said the Invisible Man, striking the table smartly. "I've put the idea into your head." (17.97, 99)

When the Invisible Man calls the people who would catch him "my fellow-men," he seems to recognize some common quality between him and the people around him – even those he worries will betray him.

Chapter 18
Dr. Kemp

"He is invisible!" he said. "And it reads like rage growing to mania! The things he may do! The things he may do! And he's upstairs free as the air. What on earth ought I to do?" (18.30)

This is one of the most interesting questions in the book, we think: if you had a friend who seemed potentially dangerous, what would you do? In this case, Kemp decides that he owes more to his neighbors and England than he owes to Griffin, so he decides to help everyone else by betraying Griffin.

Chapter 20
The Invisible Man (a.k.a. Griffin, the Stranger)

"It occurred to me that the radiators, if they fell into the hands of some acute well-educated person, would give me away too much, and watching my opportunity, I came into the room and tilted one of the little dynamos off its fellow on which it was standing, and smashed both apparatus." (20.52)

The Invisible Man worries that his equipment will betray him. That is, he worries that these radiators will tell his secret. There's some irony here because Griffin is telling this story to Kemp, who <em>will </em>tell Griffin's secrets. Notice also that Griffin's solution here is violence, which will also be his solution when it comes to Kemp. We're seeing a trend here.

Chapter 22
The Invisible Man (a.k.a. Griffin, the Stranger)

"So last January, with the beginning of a snowstorm in the air about me—and if it settled on me it would betray me!—weary, cold, painful, inexpressibly wretched, and still but half convinced of my invisible quality, I began this new life to which I am committed. I had no refuge, no appliances, no human being in the world in whom I could confide." (22.1)

Again, betrayal is connected to isolation. Griffin can't confide in any human being, and now, even the snow could betray him. Seem a little – or a lot – paranoid? Absolutely. That's probably why the movie versions of Griffin tend to show him as clinically insane.

Chapter 25
Dr. Kemp

"He has cut himself off from his kind. His blood be upon his own head." (25.18)

Kemp's words here give us his reason for betraying Griffin. Griffin has separated himself from humanity, so it's fine for humanity to treat him inhumanely. Do you agree with the logic?

Chapter 26

No doubt he was almost ecstatically exasperated by Kemp's treachery, and though we may be able to understand the motives that led to that deceit, we may still imagine and even sympathise a little with the fury the attempted surprise must have occasioned. (26.2)

What? WHAT? This quote breaks our brains all the time. All of the sudden we sympathize with Griffin? Hmmm – sympathizing with crazy villains isn't really our style. How does this quick comment affect the tone of the story?

Chapter 27

He glanced away from the barrel of the revolver and saw the sea far off very blue and dark under the midday sun, the smooth green down, the white cliff of the Head, and the multitudinous town, and suddenly he knew that life was very sweet. His eyes came back to this little metal thing hanging between heaven and earth, six yards away. "What am I to do?" he said sullenly. (27.52)

The Invisible Man has a gun pointed at Adye and is demanding that Adye help him or die. At first, Adye refuses, but then he agrees to help the Invisible Man by betraying Kemp. What motivates that betrayal? Life. There's something more important to Adye than Kemp's life: his own life. Maybe the narrator takes so much time telling us what Adye is thinking so that we don't think of him just as a coward. Instead, we see him as a man making a decision about what's more important to him. In the end, life wins out.