A stranger arrives in Iping, where he books a private room in the pub. His behaviour intrigues the locals. He is foul-tempered and rude, and never removes the bandages covering his face. He remains confined to his room, working on mysterious experiments. We gradually discover that he is a scientist called Griffin who has made himself invisible, and is now desperately trying to regain visibility. He fails, goes on the rampage, and terrorises the surrounding countryside. He kills, and in the end is killed.
Like in other stories by H.G. Wells, there is only one impossible hypothesis: that of invisibility which is then thrown into the ordinary world and the created fantasy becomes as real and vivid as a dream and inhabits the reader's mind. What matters to the author is probably the impact that a scientific invention would have on the world and the way in which people would react to it. In "The Invisible Man" he shows the unforgiving cruelty of the mob to the unusual, to the hunchback, the cross-eyed, the disfigured or the simpleton. The invisible man is just a powerful allegory for such people and that is why the novel has remained so powerful through time. It is also a clever study of character because Griffin strives to make himself unusual by becoming invisible and thereby placing himself above his fellow men and he becomes a man who sees in himself and in his uniqueness a power over others, a man possessed with the element that dictatorship is made of.
Edward Hardwicke's fantastic reading of the novel for BBC Audiobooks is highly recommended.