“The Invisible Man,” by HG Wells is a story about the internal and external conflict of Griffin, as he tries to deal with the distressfully powerful reality of being invisible. Wells employs supernatural elements in the story to reveal Griffin’s true character and to throw light on the negative effects of overreaching ambitions. Griffin’s internal conflict makes him both the protagonist and the antagonist of the story. “The Invisible Man,” is not just the story of the inevitable demise of a mad scientist, but it is also a story about the confrontation of an uncivil character with the society and with himself.
In the beginning of the story, Griffin is painted as a composed, but distressed, character. He is still trying to face the fact that his science experiment has rendered him invisible and in a state where it is almost impossible to lead a normal life. He cannot go out in public without covering himself from head to toe with burdensome bandages, he is unable to earn a living and has to thus resort to robbery, and he is unable to eat. Homeless and hungry, Griffin comes in a conflict with the society.
Perhaps it was this dawning of the realization of his helpless reality that forced him to act out against other people. He is not particularly friendly with Mrs. Hall, the amiable but nosy owner of Coaches and Horses Inn. On the day of his arrival, he talks briskly and shows no desire to have a conversation with Mrs. Hall. He avoids her questioning by tossing sovereigns over the counter and paying his way out of talking to anyone. He continues to live in his small room in the inn, aloof and detestably alone because of his physical condition.
When Griffin runs out of money, he decides to rob Mr. Bunting’s – a local vicar’s – house, and when accused of robbery, he unveils himself as the invisible man in front of the whole town. The series of his confrontation with the society that follow depict his restless and frustrated personality. He is on the brink of a spectacular scientific discovery of creating an invisibility formula, but obstacles (most of which he unintentionally creates himself) always keep coming in his way, preventing him from acquiring the success which he believes he rightfully deserves.
The continues external conflicts that Griffin faces with the society sprout from the unresolved conflict that he has accumulated within himself. Griffin is no doubt a scientific genius, but he is also socially awkward and unjustifiably authoritative. His attitude toward other people is patronizing for he believes himself to be above everyone else. He tries to hide his inner repulsion of his terrible fate by trying to establish a “reign of terror.”
In his “reign of terror” he wants to make himself the superior leader and the rest of the humanity his mere subjects. He believes that because he is invisible, no rules should apply to him. It is because of this false belief that he nurtures in his mind that his aggression toward the society intensifies. He tries to keep a lonesome and innocent homeless man, Mr. Marvel, as his unwilling partner and forces him to collaborate and help him (Griffin) complete his study on the invisibilty formula. Griffin even goes as far as to threated to kill Mr. Marvel if he doesn’t do as he says.
Griffin’s conflict with himself and the society heightens with the arrival of Dr. Kemp, his fellow colleague. The nuances in Griffin’s character are revealed through the small amount of time he spends with Dr. Kemp. While Griffin is still reticent during their encounter, he does show some vulnerability which underscores the conflicting nature of his character. Despite some initial reluctance, Griffin decides to confide with Dr. Kemp his troubles, pursuits, and his dream of establishing the “reign of terror” and creating a new world with him in charge. He even ventures to request Dr. Kemp to be his partner and to help him with his research.
The story culminates with Griffin’s final destructive rampage in an attempt to take revenge on Dr. Kemp, who despite promising confidentiality, betrays him and turns him out to the police. This betrayal acts as the final straw for Griffin and the weak threads that pulled him to humanity snap. He rampages across the whole town in anger and tries to kill Dr. Kemp, injuring innocent townspeople on his way. He becomes densely cold-blooded and reckless. In the end, he gets killed in a mob that he has started. It is his selfish and repugnant disposition that leads him to his own demise.