Directions:
This essay was part of a high school  independent reading project, where students were directed to read a 19th c. novel, analyze it, and arrive at a cogent thesis, which is underlined in the first paragraph.

Assessment of Quality in Expository Writing

  1. Introductory Paragraph: “Grabs” the reader’s attention by an interesting beginning and states a valid thesis in a clear, succinct manner.
  2. Thesis: All components of the assignment are included in the thesis.
  3. Body Paragraphs:
    • Details: Includes a substantial number of specific details which relate to the thesis, and this relationship is made clear.
    • Context: Context of every detail (quotation and/or incident) is presented to convey a thorough comprehension of the evidence.
    • Explanation: Details and the context in which they occur are clearly explained in relation to the thesis.
    • Style: Demonstrates a clear command of all three types of sentence structures (simple, compound, complex).
    • Mechanics: Exhibits a clear command of a broad range of conventions and mechanics (spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc.).
  4. Organization and Coherence:
    • Organization: Essay is organized very clearly according to the elements of the thesis.
    • Coherence: Ideas follow each other logically from the beginning to the end of the text, and transitions between paragraphs are clear, thereby creating a coherent, unified whole.
  5. Concluding Paragraph: Synthesizes ideas and reformulates the thesis in a new and interesting manner.

Journey of the Unseen

People who are considered different from the norm often experience feelings of alienation from others in society.  To cover up this alienation, they may actually isolate themselves and create their own sense of morality. Since such isolation lends itself to both suspense and intrigue, authors have chosen to write about it for centuries. One such author is H.G. Wells, who wrote The Invisible Man. In it Wells uses the character of Griffin to prove that being different can have a negative effect on someone’s personality, such as instilling a lack of moral compass, a sense of  intimidation, and an increasing violence that eventually causes his demise.

The first negative encounter the Invisible Man had was with Mrs. Hall, the owner of an inn in Iping, a small village outside of London. It occurred when Mrs. Hall asked him for payment for his room and board. The Invisible Man chose to leave London in search of solitude to continue research on making himself visible again. Even before the encounter, Griffin was a loner, having “no communication with the world beyond the village” (Wells 21). The children of the village were so fearful of the six-foot man wrapped in bandages and clothes that they called him the “Bogeyman” (Wells 23). So, when Mrs. Hall questioned the “BogeyMan,” he “raised his gloved hand, clenched, stamped his foot and said “Stop!” with such extraordinary violence that he silenced her instantly” (Wells 38). This aggressive act towards a woman, who was kind enough to serve him food and drink and allow him to live under her roof, foreshadows his future antagonism and impulse to harm. In fact, before he left Iping, he threatened two men because they went into his room. He subsequently broke windows of the inn and thrust a street lamp through the parlor window of Mrs. Gribble, a town resident. Having lost his temper, Griffin “ran through the streets striking right and left” (Wells 66) having no regard for any human being, thereby leaving Iping “An Entire Village in Sussex [Gone] Mad” (Wells 96).

The second person he had a conflict with is Mr. Marvel, a raggedy old man he met on the road after fleeing from Iping. Feeling alone and needing help, the Invisible Man made his invisible self-known to Marvel and said, “I was wandering mad with rage, naked, impotent. I could have murdered. And I saw you …’Here’ he said, is an outcast like myself. This is the man for me” (Wells 51). With these words Griffin (The Invisible Man) acknowledged both his and Marvel’s position in the world as “outcasts,” and later he told Marvel, “Help me– and I will do great things. An invisible man is a man of power.” (Wells 52) With Marvel’s help he used this “power” to pursue another amoral act, that of stealing money from the people of Port Stowe.  Later he gave both the money and the volumes of his research to Marvel for safe keeping, but when he realized that Mr. Marvel had slipped away from him, he threatened to kill him. This intimidation is mentioned by Marvel as he entered the Jolly Cricketers inn, in a neighboring town. “I tell you,” he said to bystanders, “he’s after me. I gave him the slip. He said he’d kill me and he will.” (Wells 83) Within a few moments, Griffin’s presence was felt, for he hit Marvel in the face; and when the other men who surrounded Marvel tried to help him, more violence followed: Griffin’s “fists flew around like flails” (Wells 83).  Ultimately an unknown passerby with a black beard shot five bullets into midair, thereby maiming Griffin.

It is in this bloody state that the final confrontation occurred, this time with his former professor.  After being shot at the Jolly Cricketers, Griffin came upon Kemp’s house to get bandages without actually knowing that the house belonged to his former professor. Shocked that he knew Griffin as the “a younger student, almost an albino, six feet high, and broad, with pink and white face and red eye-who won the medal for chemistry” (Wells 89), Dr. Kemp listened attentively to Griffin’s history but only after he had been threatened by him. In his attempt to calm Kemp , Griffin said “Kemp, for God’s sake! I want help badly…If you shout, I’ll smash your face” (Wells 88).  So, Kemp complied. In telling his story, Griffin established the reasons for his transformation:  his sense of alienation from the rest of society, his loneliness, his dissatisfaction with his life as a “demonstrator” at a college, and his lack of money. The latter he stole from his father, “but the money was not his and he shot himself.” (104) That he did not feel sorry for his own father, (Wells 106)  that he set fire to a house in London “to cover his own trail” (Wells 115), immediately after he became invisible, that he entered a man’s home on Drury Lane in London and  pushed the owner down a set of stairs, gagged him and tied him up with a sheet, without ever bothering to discover the man’s condition, all illustrate his inherent lack of moral compass which was all before he arrived in Iping. And the fact that he delighted in his new found moral freedom is exemplified when he expressed it in his own words, telling Kemp that “his head was teaming with plans of all the wild and wonderful things [he] had now impunity to do” (Wells 115). This sense of impunity followed him wherever he traveled – in Iping, Port Stowe and now Port Burdock, which is where Dr. Kemp’s house was.

As they spoke, Griffin explained to Kemp that the Invisible Man must now establish a “reign of terror… he must dominate and play a game against the race” (142-143). With these words, the reader can see that Griffin has gone mad and wants nothing more than to cause pain to others in the way others have caused pain to him. After Dr. Kemp read about what the Invisible Man had done in other villages, he immediately sent a note to the police captain. When Griffin heard the footsteps of the town police, he rushed out of the house in a state of “blind fury” (Wells 149). He returned becoming more violent than he had been, tearing apart windows and doors, killing the police captain, and murdering an innocent stranger, “…why the attack was made save in a murderous frenzy …is impossible to imagine” (Wells 150). These incidents illustrate the anger inside of Griffin and prove how the smallest things sent him into an uncontrollable rage. Despite this rage, many men of the village scattered all over the countryside to kill him. A laborer eventually did so with a spade. As the villagers gathered around his body in the town square: “There he lay, naked and pitiful on the ground…his hair and beard were white… with the whiteness of albinism …and his face had an expression of “anger and dismay” (Wells 169).

Invisible Man’s dismay is obviously seen throughout the novel, and it points to the fact that someone who is “different” from the norm may feel alienated from society and resort to negative actions that harm not only himself but others around him.  Griffin’s invisible identity also serves as a warning about the harmful power of invisibility, a power that now surrounds us in a digital world. However, the men of Port Burdock, who come together to extinguish the evil force , illustrate a note of optimism in the dominance a visible community has over a destructive,  invisible loner.