The Invisible Man is kind of dick.
I can’t help but notice just how closely H.G. Wells’s The Invisible Man aligns with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I really think Wells is writing his own version of Shelley’s tale.
The openings are similar. Wells’s Invisible Man wanders into an inn seeking shelter from a storm. Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein seeking escape end up on a ship heading for the arctic. After a couple of unfortunate false starts, Well’s Invisible Man finds someone to tell his story to. Dr. Frankenstein does the same with the ship captain once he is frozen in the arctic ice. Both explain their unusual experiments and the seemingly logical reasoning behind them. In the end Dr. Frankenstein is chased across the ice by the monster he created which is a visible manifestation of his internal demons while the Invisible Man ruined by his own demons is chased by the local townspeople.
Both books contain lengthy philosophical dialogues, though Wells’s hero is really only interested in justifying his own actions. Wells is dealing with Superman arguments that Nietzsche and Bernard Shaw both do a better job making. The Invisible Man shares a common bond with Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment in that he sees himself as outside of everyday morality. An invisible man is not bound by the restraint society puts on everyone else. “An invisible man is a man of power.” He believes this gives him moral authority to commit a series of crimes against the visible.
It all worked much better, as far as I’m concerned, in Mary Shelley’s hands. Somehow, she made it possible for me to accept the possibility that someone could reanimate dead tissue, create life, at least as long as the novel lasted. The stories of both The Monster and Dr. Frankenstein are interesting enough to make this reader willing to play along with everything else. The Invisible Man, while it deals with similar material, never really made me willing to forget just how ridiculous the story’s premise really is in spite of how diligently Wells tries to make a case that science really could make someone invisible.
But, parts of it were fun, and overall I have to admit I had a good time reading The Invisible Man. Though, in the end, I’m with the villagers. The guy was a jerk! He got what he deserved.