Social isolation, corruption of power, and moral decline – these aspects of the main character are framed in H. G. Wells’ late nineteenth-century classic, The Invisible Man. This is a science fiction tale of a brilliant scientist who slowly goes insane after discovering how to make himself invisible. The ultimate power of near-perfect impunity of his actions led him to imagine he was god-like. He thought the moral conduct of society and its laws did not apply to him. By isolating himself from everyone, selfishly pursuing fame and fortune, he lost complete touch with his own humanity even before he became invisible.
First, by isolating himself from everyone and selfishly pursuing his goal, Griffin did not question the moral soundness of his plan. He was so caught up in the idea that he alone would achieve fame and fortune; that the moral aspect of his plans simply didn’t occur to him. He became obsessed with the secrecy aspect as well; he thought that he could accomplish everything without any help from others. Consequently, when he needed money for his grand scheme, Griffin stole from his father, resulting in his father taking his own life in shame. For this horrible deed, he felt no remorse, nor did he want to be troubled by funeral plans or restoring his father’s good name. He considered others as mere tools; a means to his end. His only thought was to simply get back to his beloved experiments. To him, invisibility meant invincibility and impunity to do whatever he wanted no matter what the cost to others. As a result of keeping himself from social contact and not consulting with his colleagues, he was oblivious to the insanity of his actions.
In addition to isolating himself and following his own counsel; not considering his fellow man, Griffin denies the responsibility God’s Word gives each of us, that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. How far down this moral decline can take someone is a clear message in The Invisible Man. The result of obedience to God’s laws should be to love our neighbor as ourselves and in doing such, we fulfill the law. Throughout the story Griffin slips so far into moral depravity that he considers disobedience of his law makes murder, even mass murder, justified! Therefore, he puts himself above God’s laws.
I feel this book has made me reconsider how important it is to consult with other more experienced people when devising life-changing plans. Generally, I consider myself as someone with good moral judgment and basic common sense. However, this does not take the place of experience; which of course, comes with time. Most people, at some point in their lives, have thought of how “cool” it would be to have a superpower, but after reading this book I realize it might not be as wonderful as it seems. It is a good thing to dream of the possibilities that are yet to be realized; however, at the same time its imperative that we have a measuring stick for defining what is right from wrong and that measuring stick is God’s Word. Knowing this, it struck me as being very odd that Griffin never questioned his judgment or recognized that his brilliant mind was a gift from God and not to be used for his own selfish gain. There is a difference between wisdom and intelligence. Griffin relied solely on his intellect alone, and did not balance his knowledge with the wisdom of God’s Word. Understanding this, I see the grave mistake Griffin made by trusting solely in his own intellect. Many others around him, whom he had never met, suffered due to his reckless lack of consideration. He failed to question whether or not being capable of doing something gave him the right to do it. Sometimes it is easy to forget that when we really want to do a certain thing, others may be affected by that decision. This story was a stark reminder of that fact. Griffin did not lack motivation, determination, or drive, however, lacking true wisdom, the attainment of his dreams ended in futility in spite of all his hard work. It also strikes me as very disturbing that Griffin at one point realized his folly but, he had in his own mind reached the point of no return:
“The more I thought it over, Kemp, the more I realized what a helpless absurdity an invisible man was—in a cold and dirty climate and a crowded civilized city. Before I made this mad experiment I had dreamt of a thousand advantagesâ€¦I went over the heads of the things a man reckons desirable. No doubt invisibility made it possible to get them, but it made them impossible to enjoy them when they are got. Ambition – what is the good of pride of place when you can’t appear there? What is the good of a love of a woman when her name must needs be Delilah? I have no taste for politics, for the black-guardisms of fame, for philanthropy, for sport. What was I to do? And for this I had become a wrapped-up mystery, a swathed and bandaged caricature of a man!”
In conclusion, we are made in God’s image to be social creatures and to live by His Word. No matter how fantastic an idea may seem, it is important to seek Godly counsel and pray about decisions we make, otherwise we may end up wasting the gifts we’ve received. Once we start down a slippery slope, it is a whole lot harder to climb back up. Some people never do, like Griffin, and their life ends in tragedy; taking others along with them.
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