Study Guide

The Invisible Man Violence

By H.G. Wells

Violence

Chapter 3

Then the finer end of Fearenside's whip reached his property, and the dog, yelping with dismay, retreated under the wheels of the wagon. (3.4)

A little bit of violence goes a long way. From this quick scene, we learn that dogs can detect that there's something wrong about the Invisible Man. This is a good lesson to all of us: listen to your dog.

But once there was a concussion and a sound of bottles ringing together as though the table had been hit, and the smash of a bottle flung violently down, and then a rapid pacing athwart the room. (3.33)

The Invisible Man will take out his frustration on anything close to him. (For another example, check out the Invisible Man's "violent smashing of bottles" [7.2].) Yeah, we're not going to touch this guy with a ten-foot pole.

Chapter 7

He took off his hat, and with a violent gesture tore at his whiskers and bandages. (7.29)

Man, everything the Invisible Man does is violent! He throws bottles, he rips his bandages off, and he even sneezes violently. (Seriously. Check out the number of times he sneezes "violently.") We definitely don't need any more convincing.

Mr. Hall, endeavouring to act on instructions, received a sounding kick in the ribs that disposed of him for a moment, and Mr. Wadgers, seeing the decapitated stranger had rolled over and got the upper side of Jaffers, retreated towards the door, knife in hand, and so collided with Mr. Huxter and the Sidderbridge carter coming to the rescue of law and order. (7.44)

There's an element of comedy in a lot of the violence in this book – a sort of <em>Three Stooges</em>, slapstick kind of comedy (and who doesn't love that?). For example, this first brawl between the Invisible Man and the people of Iping makes it clear that the Iping villagers are really good at getting in their own way. Now, compare this comedic brawl in Iping village with the final brawl in Burdock. There's not much funny to the Invisible Man getting kicked to death. But why should there be any comedy here at all? What is the effect on the tone when violence is combined with comedy?

Chapter 9

"Very well," said the Voice, in a tone of relief. "Then I'm going to throw flints at you till you think differently." (9.30)

In order to prove that he's real, the Invisible Man uses – wait for it – violence. It certainly does the job, but it doesn't make the Invisible Man seem like a hero. For more violence against Marvel, check out the Port Stowe section (14.50).

Chapter 12

The Invisible Man amused himself for a little while by breaking all the windows in the "Coach and Horses," and then he thrust a street lamp through the parlour window of Mrs. Gribble. (12.50)

Yes, breaking street lamps! Party! Once again, the Invisible Man shows us his character through his incredibly violent actions. For another example of the Invisible Man beating up windows, check out the siege of Kemp's house. (At least that example makes a little more sense because he's trying to get in to kill Kemp. Here he's just breaking the windows to be a jerk.)

Chapter 16

"I'll show him," shouted the man with the black beard, and suddenly a steel barrel shone over the policeman's shoulder, and five bullets had followed one another into the twilight whence the missile had come. As he fired, the man with the beard moved his hand in a horizontal curve, so that his shots radiated out into the narrow yard like spokes from a wheel. (16.36)

The Invisible Man is clearly the most violent person in this book, but that doesn't mean he's the only violent character. Take the American. (Please.) But notice how careful the American's violence is; he doesn't seem to lose his temper that much, and he tries to make sure that his gunfire covers the area. We're almost tempted to say that this seems tame compared to the Invisible Man's out-of-control violence.

Chapter 24
The Invisible Man (a.k.a. Griffin, the Stranger)

"Not wanton killing, but a judicious slaying. The point is, they know there is an Invisible Man—as well as we know there is an Invisible Man. And that Invisible Man, Kemp, must now establish a Reign of Terror. Yes; no doubt it's startling. But I mean it. A Reign of Terror. He must take some town like your Burdock and terrify and dominate it. He must issue his orders. He can do that in a thousand ways—scraps of paper thrust under doors would suffice. And all who disobey his orders he must kill, and kill all who would defend them." (24.28)

What's the point of violence? For the Invisible Man, it seems like violence is often just a hobby or a fun activity. Here, though, he lays out a plan. He'll only use violence in order to get what he wants. In other words, violence here is a source of power.

Chapter 26

He was certainly an intensely egotistical and unfeeling man, but the sight of his victim, his first victim, bloody and pitiful at his feet, may have released some long pent fountain of remorse which for a time may have flooded whatever scheme of action he had contrived. (26.10)

The narrator makes sure that we know this is all conjecture (guess work): he "may have" felt something after killing Mr. Wicksteed. Do you really buy the idea that the Invisible Man was upset by killing Mr. Wicksteed?

Chapter 28
Dr. Kemp

"Get back, you fools!" cried the muffled voice of Kemp, and there was a vigorous shoving back of stalwart forms. "He's hurt, I tell you. Stand back!" (28.18)

After the violence of the final brawl (in which Griffin dies), Kemp's act of compassion is incredibly moving.