Last Updated 23 Mar 2020

The Invisible Man

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In the novel, The Invisible Man, there are many characters that go against the Invisible Man and try to keep him from succeeding. The definition of a Villain is: A wicked or evil person; a scoundrel; A dramatic or fictional character who is typically at odds with the hero. Since the Invisible Man is the protagonist of the novel, Dr. Bledsoe would fit as a villain towards him.

Dr. Bledsoe is the president of the IM’s college, and the IM looks up to him until he turns out to be a big phony. While Dr. Bledsoe preaches a doctrine of hard work and humility as the key to black advancement, he retains his power as president of the college by "playing the nigger" – he scrapes, bows, and all the while deceives the powerful white men upon whose patronage his power depends. Thus Dr. Bledsoe's supposed commitment to his race is a sham; at one point he declares that he would see every black man in the country lynched before he would give up his position of authority. What makes Dr. Bledsoe such an influential villain is that the protagonist (IM) truly did trust in him and look up to him as a role model. Bledsoe had the IM’s fate in his hands. One of the most important things to the IM was to go to college and become successful, but Bledsoe had the power to take all of that away.

Bledsoe has three faces: one he shows to important whites, another he exhibits officially to the students of the college, and the private and true side he reveals to the IM. When the IM sees Bledsoe's true nature, he soon comes to realize the corruption and malevolent methods that Dr. Bledsoe utilizes. This is the IM's first encounter with such deep-seated corruption. The IM's perception is that his world is at its deepest levels corrupted by certain varieties of radical dishonesty and manipulation.

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He sees this, when the man he idolizes, Dr. Bledsoe, is heavily entrenched in dishonesty and manipulation. Dr. Bledsoe attributes his success to a similar ability to feign humility. The power hungry Bledsoe would have done anything to keep his power, even deceive a vulnerable student or the white trustees. Bledsoe advocates lying as a good way to interact and manipulate Mr. Norton and the white trustees. His belief is that deceit is a means to obtain dignity and status.

Because of Bledsoe’s false identity, the IM recognizes his grandfather’s sentiment that true treachery lies in believing in the mask of meekness. For, echoing Booker T. Washington’s philosophy, Bledsoe practices humility and preaches the virtue of humble contentment with one’s place; but, in fact, he uses his seeming passivity to mask his true aims. Bledsoe employs this mask of meekness not only as a method of self-preservation or even self-empowerment but also as a method of actively grabbing power. He uses the college and Washington’s ideology to gain a position of power rather than to achieve broad social progress for his people (something that the IM initially looked up to him for). Bledsoe’s declaration that he has “played the nigger” long and hard to get to his position and won’t have one young, naive student erase his accomplishments reveals his priorities: his concern for the college’s image masks his greater fear that his own image will be defiled and his power stripped.

The IM’s grandfather advised his family to use masks as a form of self-defense and resistance against racist white power, but Bledsoe uses masks as a weapon against members of his own race. Moreover, he uses deception to achieve an influential position within the white-dominated power structure rather than to dismantle that structure. One can argue that Bledsoe’s character shows the ultimate limitations of the grandfather’s philosophy: African Americans will not win true power for themselves as a people if they continue to lead double lives. This is a major theme in the novel, and it’s something that the IM does not truly understand until the end of the book.

Dr. Bledsoe, although a villain to the IM and to the entire black community, the IM is still able to learn a lot about him when it comes to his invisibility. The IM learns that to be invisible is to be unacknowledged by others, and he learns that by “playing a role” or pretending to be something that you are not (mask’s) you end up losing your true self and sense of identity. Behind the many masks of Bledsoe, he ends up getting lost in his multiple identities and does not know who he is. Bledsoe seems to be blind to the fact that he too is black, and although he may have a higher position than other blacks, he is still “invisible” in the eyes of the white people to whom he “sucks up” to.

Dr. Bledsoe is a villain who seems to be lost in his own evil, power hungry motives. Dr. Bledsoe is blind to the truth of his own identity, and therefore it causes the IM to rethink his life. Bledsoe serves as a villain because of the many roles he played to fool people. He did not care about anyone else but himself. Bledsoe had many twisted morals, but the protagonist, the IM was able to learn from Bledsoe’s blindness and ignorance. He learned that your true identity does not come from the power of putting others down, but it comes from the realization that you are powerless but that you can still make an effort to change things for the betterment of all people.

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The Invisible Man. (2017, Mar 21). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/the-invisible-man/

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