Invisible Man: Summary, Characters, Themes & Author

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  • 0:03 Brief Biography of H.G. Wells
  • 0:36 Invisible Man Plot Summary
  • 2:01 Main Characters of…
  • 2:57 Themes of Invisible Man
  • 4:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

This lesson examines H.G. Wells' 'The Invisible Man.' It will include a brief author biography, a summary of the book, list of characters, and a look at the story's major themes.

Brief Biography of H.G. Wells

Herbert George Wells, better known as H.G. Wells, is a British author best known for his works in the science fiction genre, such as The Time Machine, The War Of The Worlds, and the work we will be examining today, The Invisible Man, a novella about how science, if isolated and unchecked by morality, can lead to trouble. Wells, now known as the father of science fiction, was born on September 21, 1866, and died on August 13, 1946.

Invisible Man Plot Summary

In The Invisible Man, a mysterious man comes to Iping village, in the middle of a snowstorm. He checks into an inn, owned and run by the husband and wife George and Janny Hall, asks to not be bothered at all, and goes to his room with his luggage. This man is Griffin, a scientist, who spends his days in his room fussing about with his chemicals and formulas.

Griffin does go outside at night, however, completely bandaged up and wearing a fake nose. The villagers find him very peculiar, especially since weird break-ins and robberies start happening in the village. Things come to a head when Janny Hall asks him to pay his overture rent or leave, and he, out of desperation, takes off all his bandages and clothes and literally disappears into the night.

Griffin makes Thomas Marvel, a tramp, or migrant worker, his assistant. But Marvel rats him out to the police, and Griffin runs away again.

On the run once again, Griffin meets Dr. Kemp, someone he knows from medical school. Griffin tells Kemp about his experiments with invisibility, as well as his current mad plans to terrorize England using his invisibility discovery. However, Kemp realizes Griffin has gone mad, and gives him up to the police.

Griffin then breaks through the police line and chases Kemp into town, where the locals capture and kill Griffin. At the end, we find that Marvel has saved Griffin's notes he took from his room at the inn, but, perhaps thankfully, he can't make heads or tails out of them.

Main Characters of Invisible Man

Now let's look more closely at each of the main characters in The Invisible Man.


The invisible man himself, and the main character of the story, and the symbol of science without humanity. His journey from scientific obsession to insanity and greed is a commentary on the dangers of scientific progress without morality.

Doctor Kemp

Doctor Kemp knows Griffin from their days at medical school together. He is horrified by Griffin's discovery and what he wants to do with it, and is the symbolic stop to science ran amok.

George and Janny Hall

The friendly, down-to-earth husband and wife owners of the Coach and Horse Inn, and the first to suspect Griffin of invisibility.

Thomas Marvel

A funny and playful tramp, and Griffin's forced assistant. Willing at first, he becomes afraid of his new boss, and asks the police for protection. In the end, he winds up with Griffin's notes and money.

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