Friday, 24 July 2015

Is Griffin to be blamed entirely for the death of Mr. Wicksteed?

The 26th chapter of the invisible man is written in a rather graphic and clinical style of writing, rather like a thesis paper which is a plea for leniency on the part of author in labelling Griffin as a downright psychopath who had planned to attack and kill Mr. Wicksteed. Some how, it appears as if Wells’ is deliberately trying to create sympathy for Griffin in the reader’s mind so close to the end of the book. This could in many ways be because Wells wanted to make Griffin as human as possible, before the then so that his readers could be much  more touched by his tragic end.
Griffin’s lack of sensitivity towards the “little child playing near Kemp’s gateway” resulting in “its ankle” getting broken is somehow because of the emotional state of mind that he was in, after getting betrayed by Kemp. He had rushed out of “Kemp’s house in a state of blind fury” and in his blindness dealt the child a cruel blow. Wells’ use of the pronoun “its” is rather strange as it doesn’t indicate the gender of the child. The author was probably trying to create a neutral and detached style of writing so as to be as accurate as possible in what might be an unemotional write-up prepared by a defence lawyer, or a research student.
The fact of the matter is that after the failed attempt of the arrest, Griffin becomes a fugitive, a cornered rat, “a hunted man,” somewhere who has nowhere to go and tend his wounded ego. The incident of the murder of Mr Wicksteed is horrible enough and Wells doesn’t hesitate to describe the smashing up of the middle aged man in graphic detail, but then he also suggests that  it was unpremeditated and unplanned.The writer suggests that Mr. Wicksteed had come across the strange sight of an iron rod (presumably held by Griffin) waving in the air and decided to investigate it. After this it was a matter of his following the iron rod, and attempting to hit it with his walking stick. This is supported by the eye-witness account of a little girl who saw him “trotting” towards the gravel pit. Wells very clearly states that the circumstances  in which the body was found and the position in which it was, “lifts the murder out of the realm of the absolutely wanton.”  The unlucky possibility was that Griffin had nowhere to run because he was trapped between Mr. Wicksteed and a “drift of stinging nettles and the gravel pit.” It was probably a case better expressed the the proverb, “Curiosity killed the cat” or that it was all bout Mr. Wicksteed being at the wrong place at the wrong time!
Wells doesn’t hesitate to go ahead and suggest, although as “pure hypothesis” that the “sight of his victim…bloody and pitiful at his feet, may have released some long pent fountain of remorse”. So it seems as if Wells is indeed pitching for the benefit of doubt for Griffin, suggesting perhaps that he is also a human being remorselessly  being hunted by men and packs of dogs, and that he had not intended to kill Mr. Wicksteed in cold blood.
The fact of the matter is that Griffin is in any case guilty of Manslaughter, and whatever the argument might be, Griffin in a more humane garb in order to make his death in chapter 28 all the more tragic. It is true that there is a little of a Griffin in everyone’s heart. He was definitely a brilliant scientist, alas, it was something that the society had never recognised. The monster inside Griffin’s heart is in many ways a creation of the society, a society that had not risen to the challenge of including him into its fold. Perhaps some good use could have been made of his brilliant mind. We see Griffin towards the end of the novel as someone against whom the tables have been turned, fate has ditched him, and even the plot has ditched him by showing him as a social outcast, a vagabond with no home to go to. One should not bee too sorry for Griffin however since the next “morning he was himself again, active, powerful, angry, and malignant, prepared for his last great struggle against the world.” Here is a one man army all ready to take on the world by himself. The poignancy in the above words brings out the futility of believing that he can take on the world all by himself. He is doomed to be a failure, fate has ditched him and so has his only friend. There is a sense of finality in the words, “last great struggle” a sense of foreboding, a feeling that he is about to end his life because of his foolish beliefs.

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