Themes are overarching ideas and beliefs that the writers put into their work. Themes in The Invisible Man present the dilemma of invisibility. It also demonstrates the contradictory sides of human nature. Some of the major themes in The Invisible Man have been discussed below.
Themes in The Invisible Man
Invisibility makes Griffin, both protagonist and anti-hero of the novel. It is also scientific advancement at the expense of his educational career and human emotions. Griffin sacrifices his career, abandons human emotions as he steals money from his father. Due to invisibility, Griffin loses his purpose. His mind weaves criminal ideas as he gains power over others through his invisibility, a divine trait. Though at first, it was the only burglary, he evening plans to continue to murder people. He also regrets that he cannot enjoy simple things due to his invisibility. In the end, his invisibility could not save him from violent death.
Quest of Knowledge
Here, the way to gain knowledge is either by conducting experiments or asking questions. Griffin is much absorbed in his quest of knowledge that he leaves his education to understand the concepts of light and optics until he succeeds in inventing invisibility. Mrs. Hall is also interested in knowing about Griffin. So, she constantly fidgets with him until he becomes quick-tempered, and she leaves him without getting anything. Then she uses Fearenside to observe him. His knowledge comprises his close and personal observation of Griffin’s hands. Dr. Kemp instantly understands the success of Griffin and advises him to share his knowledge with the public or else face their hostility.
Humanity versus Science
Although science is a boon, it can prove a bane for humanity when used by individuals inappropriately. At first, Griffin’s love for optics and light is a good thing and can be exploited for the welfare of mankind, it can also be used for criminal purposes. His invisibility is undoubtedly a great achievement. However, he uses it for burglary and harming others. The love of science robs him of humanity when he attends the funeral of his father without feeling the pain of loss. In the end the mob turns against him and crushes him to death.
Power versus Morality
Through the power of invisibility, Griffin gains great power which could have been used for the benefit of society. However, Griffin’s achievement and his obsession with unleashing a reign of terror does not go well with the people around him. Even the advice of his former classmate, Dr. Kemp, falls flat on him and he continues his killing spree disregarding morality. Griffin breaches his moral framework and becomes a social criminal.
Griffin starts as a good scientist at first. However, he isolates himself from everyone including his family. Eventually, he becomes violent. He feels sad because of his isolation and inability to enjoy life. However, due to isolation he becomes a sociopath and plans to unleash a “Reign of Terror” by killing people. He doesn’t show sympathy, enjoys criminal activities until his death.
Greed and Self-Centeredness
The main character Griffin becomes invisible out of greed. At first, it was from simple things such as money. Later, greed and self-interest inspire him to research on light and optics, leaving everything else aside. He even leaves his father and takes his money to gain power and popularity. Even Mrs. Hall seems to represent greed when she asks Griffin to pay more rent. Thomas Marvel is also a self-centered and greedy character who agrees to the side by Griffin but later on turns against him.
Belief and Skepticism
Griffin becomes invisible but makes various people skeptic about it. Although this type of mentality encourages scientific inquiry, it sometimes destroys belief which at times appears essential. For example, just by observing the arm of Griffin, Fearenside believes that he is a piebald or a person of mixed blood which is based on his assumptions and skepticism. Mrs. Hall also shows her gullibility and prefers this attitude for financial gains. When it becomes a rumor, at first townsmen do not believe in it. Later they come to know that Griffin was exploiting his scientific knowledge to harm people.
Individual Versus Society
At first, Griffin enjoys certain superiority over others in terms of scientific knowledge and after gaining invisibility. He turns against the society to meet his needs. Although his classmate, Dr. Kemp, asks him to join the society for the welfare of the people, he rejects Kemp’s advice. Finally, he gets killed by the society before going on a murder spree.
The moral of the story shows that every individual in a society has to take up the responsibility for his acts. If Mrs. Hall keeps a check on Griffin, she shows her responsibility toward her community. Dr. Kemp is fully conscious of individual responsibility from the way he handles Griffin’s case. He makes Griffin realize his responsibility toward the community and society. However, he thinks about his desire to establishing his own reign of terror.
Griffin betrays his father by leaving the university and stealing his money for his experiments. He also betrays Mrs. Hall for doing what he is not authorized to in her inn. Even Marvel betrays Griffin when he sees the danger.