Why does H.G. Wells call the experiment of the invisible man "strange and evil"?

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A common ‘What If?’ mind game involves asking the question, “If you could have a super power, which would it be: Flight, or Invisibility?" The answer must be rationalized, or tied to logic. This is totally subjective on my part, but the choice of Flight suggests that the player’s personality is revealed to be heroic, romantic, or sort of pro-social. The choice of the power of Invisibility, comparatively, is a furtive affair: a gateway to crime, dark deeds, and clandestine acts.

The Stranger in The Invisible Man is “strange and evil,” true. However, H.G. Wells was known for his grandness of metaphor. Wells’s The War of the Worlds has been cited as a science-fictionalization of the late nineteenth century genre of “Invasion Literature,” not necessarily about Martians, in which a foreign but earthbound military aggressor threatens British sovereignty in the age of Imperialism.

In the same way, The Invisible Man seems to be about the perversion of science and exploration. The Invisible Man’s extended explanation (chapter XIX: First Principles) as to the processes of attaining the power of invisibility is an illustration of the theme of Man Versus Nature, of someone breaking through the limits of physics. This, as Wells demonstrates, puts common humanity at risk.

The Enlightenment, the historic intellectual movement that positioned Science over Superstition, “was seen to have bathed Europe in the light of reason,” to quote Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker (March 4, 2019). But a revisionist view of that era—in its downgrading of faith coupled with the hubris of conquest—has come to be thought of as a hotbed of “racism, colonialism, and most of the other really bad isms.” I’d argue, therefore, that The Invisible Man is a parable of scientific overreach with negative consequences to civilization at large.

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It's in the epilogue to The Invisible Man that Wells describes Kemp's experiments as "strange and evil." The epilogue is meant to warn us of the dangers of following his example and carrying out similar experiments ourselves. Kemp's experiments are strange in that they are highly unusual. After all, we may readily concede that there's something more than a little weird about someone making themselves invisible. But more than that, Kemp's scientific experiments are evil, not so much because they show him playing God, but because of their diabolical intent. Unlike most scientists, Kemp isn't motivated by the good of humanity; quite the opposite in fact. Kemp positively hates humanity, and like the archetypal mad scientist believes himself to be a vastly superior being to all the little people he sees and despises. Kemp has made it absolutely clear that he will use the power of invisibility for purely evil ends, committing acts of murder on a truly massive scale.

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