CHAPTER 20: Summary (At the House in Great Portland Street)
Dr Kemp has sent a note to Colonel Adye and does not want Griffin to know this. He offers his chair to Griffin, mainly to get him away from the window.
Griffin continues with his story and says that when he went to bury his father, he felt no remorse. He believed that the old man was himself responsible for whatever had happened (his suicide). However, walking down the old streets did affect him in some way as it reminded him of his past which he had buried deep inside him. On his return to London, he moved into a cheap boarding house to continue his research. Griffin reiterated his point that the other details were in the three books and thus, they were very important.
The first object that he had tried to make invisible was a bit of white wool fabric. When it vanished, Griffin could hardly believe it.
A cat appeared on his window and Griffin thought that he had got another thing to experiment with. Griffin gave her milk and later processed her. But it was a hard task as it would not take the drugs he wanted to give her. The experiment failed to make the claws and the tapetum of the cat’s eye, disappear and Griffin was unable to understand why it was happening. Then an old woman who owned the cat heard the painful cries of the cat and came to investigate. She suspected Griffin of conducting vivisection on the cat.
Though he was within touching distance of his dream, Griffin was not excited. He thought that perhaps he was tired, so he had a drink and slept. The landlord came asking for the rent and made many enquiries. The old woman had probably told him about the cat. He also thought that Griffin’s behaviour was curious. He peeped into the room and Griffin thought that his research was in danger of being discovered and he lost his temper and threw the landlord out.
After the fight, Griffin knew that he would be thrown out soon and he had very little money to find a new apartment. He realised that he had to make himself invisible.
He prepared for this by sending his three books and money to the nearby post-office from where he could collect them later. When the landlord came with a legal notice, he opened the door and the landlord was left frightened as Griffin looked so strange. The night was painful and agonising. His skin was on fire and Griffin had never expected this suffering. Griffin held on till the end and somehow survived the transformation. When he woke up later his strength had returned.
Griffin started to dismantle the apparatus as there was rapping on the door. He was near the window when the landlord started banging the door. After Griffin had managed to go out of the window, the door was smashed open.
The landlord, his two step-sons and the old lady entered only to find the place empty.
The landlord agreed with the old woman that Griffin was a vivisectionist while his sons said that he was an electrician as there were dynamos in the room. Griffin remained outside while the others argued about him. He had already planned to burn everything down in his room to leave no traces of his experiment. Finally, he took a box of matches, opened the gas and set fire to the house.
At this point of the story,Dr Kemp expressed his shock at the callous manner in which Griffin had gone about removing his traces. Griffin justified his act by saying that it was the only way to cover up his trail. Also, at this point, he felt triumphant as he had achieved his dream of becoming invisible and could now do anything he wanted without the fear of getting caught.
Q1. How was the house at Portland Street important to Griffin?
Ans. The house at Portland Street was of immense importance to Griffin because it was the place where he could finally attain the fruits of his long research on the possibility of gaining in visibility.
He took up cheap lodging in a cheap flat in one of the houses here and set up his apparatus. The first object that he was able to successfully turn invisible was a piece of white woollen fabric. After this, he experimented on a cat and realized that the claws and the tapetum of the eye took longer to disappear than the other parts of the body. Finally, he experimented on himself and was able to make himself invisible. Therefore, it was in this house that he finally achieved success and hence was important to him.
Q2. What had forced Griffin to burn down the house in Great Portland Street?
Ans. Griffin had found a cheap accommodation in a house on Great Portland Street. He filled the room with the apparatus that he needed to carry on his experiment. His long labour bore fruit and he was able to make a woollen cloth disappear. Then he tried to make a cat invisible. The noises made by the cat brought her owner to Griffin’s doorstep. She suspected him of vivisection. Next day, the landlord came asking questions. Griffin behaved rudely with him and threw him out and realised that this would lead to further problems and a possible eviction from the room. He sent his books off by mail to some place where he could later pick them up from.
He carried out the experiment on himself and became invisible. He was insecure and thought that this would lead to further trouble. He destroyed all his apparatus but still feared that his discovery would become public. He then burned down the house to cover his trail.