The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Invisible Man: A Grotesque Romance begins on a wintry day in February. A mysterious, oddly dressed stranger arrives at the Coach and Horses pub in the town of Iping in rural Sussex. His entire body is covered: Even his face is swathed in a muffler, and his eyes are hidden behind dark glasses. Although the landlady and her husband, the Halls, are curious about his bizarre appearance, they readily agree to rent him a room because it is the off season. The next day, the stranger’s luggage arrives, consisting of several crates of chemicals and books. Because of his furtive and solitary nature, the stranger quickly becomes the object of local gossip.

Mrs. Hall, who believes he has been in a horrible disfiguring accident, soon perceives unbelievable things in her guest’s eccentricities. It appears that he has no lower half to his jaw, for example, and as his brusqueness becomes more violent, she suspects that there is more to his behavior than can be explained by mere physical deformity. After he runs out of money, a rash of petty thefts in the village point to the strange lodger as the culprit. His invisibility finally is discovered when Mrs. Hall calls in Jaffers, the local constable, to evict him for not paying his bill. The village inhabitants panic.

Naked and on the run, the invisible man coerces a tramp, Thomas Marvel, to aid him in his escape. Marvel retrieves three scientific notebooks from the Coach and Horses and steals...

(The entire section is 571 words.)