Study Guide

The Invisible Man Community

By H.G. Wells


Chapter 1
The Invisible Man (a.k.a. Griffin, the Stranger)

"A fire," he cried, "in the name of human charity! A room and a fire!" He stamped and shook the snow from off himself in the bar, and followed Mrs. Hall into her guest parlour to strike his bargain. And with that much introduction, that and a couple of sovereigns flung upon the table, he took up his quarters in the inn. (1.1)

If you need a place to stay, you might call a friend or a family member, but the Invisible Man needs a hotel. This is one of many reminders that the Invisible Man has no bonds to the people of Iping, except for his money ("sovereigns" are a type of coin).

Mrs. Hall was pulled up suddenly. It was certainly rude of him, after telling him all she had done. She gasped at him for a moment, and remembered the two sovereigns. (1.35)

Mrs. Hall is trying to get info out of the stranger, because gossip is pretty much what the economy of Iping runs on – if you're inside the community. If you're on the outside, then you can also pay in actual money. So, if the first quote shows that the Invisible Man tries to create a bond with money, the second shows us that…well, it doesn't really work. In other words, the Invisible Man refuses to join the community by talking about himself. Lucky for him, even if money can't create a bond, it can get him a room at the inn.

Chapter 3

A couple of minutes after, he rejoined the little group that had formed outside the "Coach and Horses." There was Fearenside telling about it all over again for the second time; there was Mrs. Hall saying his dog didn't have no business to bite her guests; there was Huxter, the general dealer from over the road, interrogative; and Sandy Wadgers from the forge, judicial; besides women and children, all of them saying fatuities: "Wouldn't let en bite <em>me</em>, I knows"; "'Tasn't right <em>have</em> such dargs"; "Whad '<em>e</em> bite 'n for, than?" and so forth. (3.9)

Later we'll see crowds that are less funny (like the crowd that beats the Invisible Man to death), but we like this group because it seems like a good example of a tight community. Here are a bunch of people, and they're all communicating (not about anything important, of course). Also notice that everyone seems to have a role: Huxter is "interrogative," Wadgers is "judicial," and Fearenside is telling the story. In a community like this, everyone has a defined role.

Chapter 4

Out of her hearing there was a view largely entertained that he was a criminal trying to escape from justice by wrapping himself up so as to conceal himself altogether from the eye of the police. […] Elaborated in the imagination of Mr. Gould, the probationary assistant in the National School, this theory took the form that the stranger was an Anarchist in disguise, preparing explosives. […] Another school of opinion followed Mr. Fearenside, and either accepted the piebald view or some modification of it. […] Yet another view explained the entire matter by regarding the stranger as a harmless lunatic. (4.5-6)

Because he doesn't belong to the community, the Invisible Man is a target for gossip and rumors. By contrast, people probably don't talk too much about Mr. Hall's drinking (though everyone probably knows it). So what is the Invisible Man? Well, in the community's eyes, he's a criminal, a political terrorist (people in the nineteenth century were really worried about anarchists), a freak, and a madman. The villagers can come up with these wild ideas because they have no idea what he's really like.

He rarely went abroad by daylight, but at twilight he would go out muffled up enormously, whether the weather were cold or not, and he chose the loneliest paths and those most overshadowed by trees and banks. (4.3)

If you're not a vampire, you're probably known to leave the house during the day. So someone who only goes out at night is already going to be a little outside the community. On top of that, the Invisible Man also chooses "the loneliest paths." Why do you think he goes out at all?

Chapter 9

"They are—charity boots," said Mr. Thomas Marvel. (9.4)

Marvel is a homeless wanderer, so he seems like he might find himself outside of communities, just like Griffin. But even the tramp Marvel has a role to play: he's the guy who gets clothes from charity. It doesn't seem like much, but it's a relationship with the community – something the Invisible Man never has.

Chapter 10

But people, sceptics and believers alike, were remarkably sociable all that day. (10.1)

After the Invisible Man scares Iping (but before he tears it up), Iping goes about its regular business of having a party (the Whit Monday festival). Even though there's some difference of opinion about the Invisible Man between skeptics and believers, notice how the community comes together anyway.

Chapter 15

[T]he work he was upon would earn him, he hoped, the fellowship of the Royal Society, so highly did he think of it. (15.1)

<em>The Invisible Man</em>'s communities may mostly be towns and cities – physical communities. But there are other types of communities in this book, too, like the scientific community, which Kemp hopes to conquer in a major way. This raises some interesting questions: How do you go about joining a community? Do you have to be born in a town or is it enough to live there for a while? How long would the Invisible Man have to live in Iping before he was part of that community?

Chapter 19
The Invisible Man (a.k.a. Griffin, the Stranger)

"And you know the knavish system of the scientific world. I simply would not publish, and let him share my credit." (19.33)

Of course, being part of a community isn't all sunshine and lollipops; communities sometimes demand work from those who belong. In the case of the "scientific world," the custom is that senior researchers get credit for work that junior researchers do. This is a custom that the Invisible Man cannot support.

Chapter 28

Down went the heap of struggling men again and rolled over. There was, I am afraid, some savage kicking. Then suddenly a wild scream of "Mercy! Mercy!" that died down swiftly to a sound like choking. (28.17)

One final example of a community: a group of people kicking a stranger to death. It goes to show you that community can be a little dangerous, both for those on the inside (who will get punished for breaking the rules and traditions – think of The Scarlet Letter) and for those on the outside (who can, you know, get beaten to death).