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H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man is a story about a scientist who learns how to make himself invisible. While this sounds like a very interesting idea, it causes a lot of unexpected problems for the main character, and eventually turns him into a criminal outcast.
The novel begins with a chapter entitled “The Strange Man’s Arrival.” The strange man is the scientist Griffin. Griffin’s demeanor, which means outward appearance or attitude, is that of a distant, rude person. We see this in the way that he speaks to Mrs. Hall, the proprietor of the Coach and Horses Inn. Here are his first several statements in the book. Notice that his words are clipped and brusque.
“No,” he said without turning.
“Leave the hat.”
“Thank you,” he said drily.
Although he is saying “thank you,” there is no attempt to make any polite conversation. He is merely engaging in expected social behavior.
Also, notice the explanatory words that Wells uses to describe how Griffin is speaking. He does not turn to face Mrs. Hall when he speaks to her. Once he speaks “drily,” which means without inflection or emotion.
He is also described in a way that makes him look secretive:
She rapped and entered promptly. As she did so her visitor moved quickly, so that she got but a glimpse of a white object disappearing behind the table. It would seem he was picking something from the floor.
Wells wants his reader to realize that this is a man who has become ostracized from normal human society. Keep in mind that the reader does not yet know that the character has rendered himself invisible, so there is an element of suspense involved in describing the character this way (yes, it’s true that the book’s title is a giveaway, but the reader still does not have any details about it). The reader is immediately inclined to feel unsympathetic toward Griffin.
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