For what is the invisible man trying to prepare in the first paragraph of H.G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man: A Grotesque Romance?

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The opening paragraph of Chapter I of H.G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man: A Grotesque Romance offers little in the way of contextual information regarding the story's plot. It is, though, a fascinating opening to a story the premise of which is fraught with moral implications regarding the exploitation of science for personal, rather than altruistic reasons. Wells did not provide a linear narrative that begins with the protagonist's reasoning for his current state of being. Rather, he begins his story with the central premise already well-underway. We are given little insight, but are presented with the picture of male adult struggling against the elements -- the brutally cold English winter -- who falls into the entryway of a guesthouse, exhausted and near-frozen and cries out for warmth and solitude:

He was wrapped up from head to foot, and the brim of his soft felt hat hid every inch of his face but the shiny tip of his nose . . . "A fire," he cried, "in the name of human charity! A room and a fire!"

All we know of the character who will emerge as the central figure in Wells' novel is that he appears desperate, not just to escape the cold, but to find that measure of solitude. He is not, in this paragraph, depicted as 'trying to prepare' for anything; he is merely portrayed as desperate and mysterious. What we learn, however, as the narrative unfolds, is that this individual, "Griffin of University College," is on-the-run. His has been a psychologically isolated existence, and he has exploited his knowledge of science to develop the means of becoming invisible -- the perfect metaphor for a psychological condition such as social anxiety disorder or paranoid or schizoid personality disorder, or any other such disorder associated with an intense need to separate oneself from the rest of humanity. To the extent Wells' opening paragraph depicts Griffin as preparing for something, it is only in retrospect that we come to understand that he has led a murderous existence and is possessed of a psychopathic disdain for much of the rest of mankind, save his old colleague Kemp, and is desperate to deal with his invention of invisibility.

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