Tuesday 11 August 2020

Footprints without Feet

Footprints without Feet

                                  By H. G. Wells


·       The chapter ‘Footprints without Feet’ is an extract from a hugely popular science fiction ‘The Invisible Man’ written by H. G. Wells.

·       H. G. Wells is an English writer who is renowned for his science fiction novels The Invisible Man', ‘The Time machine’ and ‘The War of the Worlds’.

·       The chapter 'Footprints without Feet’ includes the adventures of Griffin, the scientist after being invisible.

·       The story highlights the theme that science is a double edged weapon which may be highly dangerous if not used carefully and wisely.

·       It also conveys the message that all the advancements and progress should be used for the good of mankind in general as well as in particular.

·       Griffin is portrayed as a lawless person characterised by quick temper, selfish attitude and criminal mind.   


Previous Story

A brilliant scientist named Griffin was curious to discover the ways to become invisible. After many attempts he could discover a rare drug which could make a man invisible. He swallowed that drug and became invisible. When he was roaming naked in the busy streets of London, he was exposed to the chilly winter in the month of January. While escaping from the busy streets of London, he was pushed into wet mud and his feet were stained.


Summary /  Synopsis of the chapter


·       Griffin was first noticed by the two boys, when he stepped on freshly painted staircase of a house and left his footprints there. They were surprised as they could only see footprints going up and coming down the steps but could find no one there. They followed him until the footprints became faint. The surprised boys didn’t know that the man was a scientist who had discovered a rare drug. When he swallowed the drug, he became invisible.

·       Griffin was a lawless person who set his landlord’s house on fire because he had removed him from his house. Thus, he became homeless and cashless, and was wandering completely naked in the streets of London in the month of January.

·       As it was difficult for Griffin to bear biting cold of January month, he sneaked into London Store, stole clothes, ate and drank to his satisfaction and slept there. Since he couldn’t manage to wake up before the store opened next morning, the store people followed him. He could only escape after removing all his clothes.

·       He, then, decided to rob a shop giving supplies to a theatrical company. He stole clothes, some bandages to cover his face, thick moustache, false nose, dark glasses and a wide rimmed hat. He also attacked the shopkeeper and stole cash from him.

·       Then, he decided to avoid the crowd of London and headed to a small village, Iping. There, he booked two rooms in an inn. The land lady, Mrs. Hall was very happy to have a rich customer but curious to know about him. Griffin warned her and others to disturb him as he wanted peace and solitude for his work. He paid rent in advance that’s why Mrs. Hall didn’t mind his strange behaviour and odd appearance.

·        After some time he ran out of cash and told Mrs. Hall that he would be receiving his cheque soon and would pay after few days. Since he didn’t have any money, he stole from the house of a clergyman who could only hear the sounds of theft but could find no one in his room.

·       Same morning, Mrs. Hall and her husband woke early and finding Griffin’s room wide open entered to know more about their strange customer. But nobody was there, only his clothes, bandages and hat were lying on bed. All of a sudden Griffin entered and tried to hit them with the furniture. Mrs. Hall was in shock to think that her mother’s chair is spirited and the room is haunted as she could see no one attacking them.

·       The village constable was secretly called. Mrs. Hall suspected the scientist and asked him how he came out of an empty room and entered a locked room. Griffin got furious and started removing his hat and bandages as he wanted to scare them showing his reality.

·       Just then, Mr. Jaffers, the constable reached the place and got surprised and nervous to think how he would arrest a headless man. But he was determined enough and started running after him to arrest. All started running here and there to catch Griffin but got hit as he was becoming invisible bit by bit. At last, Mr. Jaffers also was hit badly and got unconscious. In this complete chaos Griffin managed to run away from the place.

 Video on Footprints without Feet

Summary of the Book ‘The Invisible Man’

The Invisible man’ is hugely popular as a science fiction, first published in 1897. The story is about a brilliant scientist, Griffin who discovered a wonder drug, swallowed it and became invisible but after being naked he was exposed to heat, cold and all the nature's furies. To escape extreme cold of London he stayed in an inn where he stole, attacked land lord and was discovered. He had to run away from there. 

After that he started keeping an iron rod with him and with that iron rod he committed his first murder. Then he met a tramp, Thomas Marvel whom he made his assistant and with him went to the same village, Iping to recover the records of his experiments from the inn where he had stayed. But Marvel betrayed him stealing his notes and informing the police.

In revenge Griffin tried to kill Marvel but, he himself got shot. He escaped and took shelter in the house of Mr. Kemp who happened to be of his acquaintance from medical school. Griffin revealed everything about his discovery and his miserable condition. He also revealed his secret plan ‘Reign of Terror’ in which he would use his invisibility to terrorise the nation. Mr. Kemp wasn’t willing to support his insane proposal that’s why he informed authorities about Griffin who was successful in running away.

Griffin announced that Kemp would be the first one to get murdered under his ‘Reign of Terror’. Kemp, being cool headed offered himself as a bait to trap Griffin.  The Scotland Yard inspector and all the local people came to Kemp’s help. At last Griffin was shot and attacked brutally, received fatal injuries and finally died. Marvel kept safe with him Griffin’s notes which were useless for him but with the help of his stolen money he became a successful businessman.


Griffin as a Scientist 

As a scientist Griffin was wonderful and brilliant, and could have been a remarkable asset to the world. His brilliant mind, studies and experiments made it possible for him to discover a rare drug that made him invisible. His discovery could have proved to be path breaking and been used for the good of entire mankind and many other purposes but, alas, his lawless nature brought a sad fate to the scientist. 


Griffin as a Person 

In spite of being a brilliant scientist Griffin was a lawless, irresponsible and selfish person. He was a man of crooked mind, hot temper and selfish temperament. His selfish intentions made him steal, hurt people and commit crimes. He set the house of his previous land lord on fire, stole from the clergyman and robbed the shops and attacked Mrs. Hall.  Eventually, he met with a sad fate and died. 

Important Question answers

Q1. What impression do you form of Griffin as a scientist? How could he have proved himself as a responsible citizen of his country? 

Ans. Despite being a brilliant scientist Griffin is a case of human ambition devoid of sense and sensibility. He was obsessed with his desire to be invisible, he did not think of its pros and cons, behaved as a lawless thief and unscrupulous man.

He could have used his discovery for his country’s advancement and progress. He, as a responsible citizen of his country, should have thought to use this gift for security or humanitarian purposes. 

Q2. What does H. G. Wells convey through this story?

Ans. The writer, H. G. Wells conveys through the story that science is a double edged weapon which may be highly dangerous if not used carefully and wisely. Science is a great blessing that can work miracle and can make this world more advanced and more beautiful when put to use with wiser, logical and wider perspective.

The story also conveys the message that all the advancements and progress should be used for the good of mankind in general as well as in particular. Griffin used his invisibility to terrorise and hurt people, and satisfy his selfish purposes, thus faced tragic death and wasted his achievements and brilliance with himself only.

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