Footprints without Feet (H.G.Wells)
Introduction: The story “Footprints Without Feet” is an excerpt from the novel “The Invisible Man” written by H.G wells. The novel deals with the adventures of a scientist – Griffin, who discovers a mysterious drug that could make the human body invisible. He is invisible after taking the medication. He sets fire to the landlord ‘s house which makes him homeless. As it is mid-winter, he faces several difficulties; however, he overcomes most of them by one means or another.
The story begins when two boys see muddy imprints of a pair of bare feet in London but no one is there. These impressions are of a brilliant scientist, Griffin, who has discovered the way the human body is invisible. Throughout the chapter, he is presented as a lawless human. First of all, he sets his landlord’s house on fire after becoming invisible and runs from there. He is homeless and it is mid-winter. It becomes very tough for him to wander without clothes. He enters a big London store and uses various garments to wear and feeds himself with food and wine. Then he sleeps comfortably on a pile of quilts. Next morning, when he does not wake up on time, the assistants of the store chase him and he escapes by removing his clothes. Thus, he becomes invisible again.
Next, he enters a theatrical company and uses its stock to cover himself. Moreover, he knocks down a shopkeeper and robs him off his money. He then goes away from London to a village inn where he books two rooms. The landlady tries to be friendly with him but Griffin avoids her and tells her not to disturb him again.
Soon Griffin‘s stolen money finishes and the lady demands for the rent of the room but Griffin pretends expecting a cheque shortly.
Afterwards, the clergyman and his wife hear the chink of money in their study room. They come down in the study room but find no one there. They find the door open and all the housekeeping money missing. Later, Mr and Mrs Hall find the scientist’s door wide open and decide to investigate his belongings. Suddenly, Mrs Hall hears a sniff close to her ear. Then Griffin‘s hat leaps up and dashes itself on her face. A little later the chair becomes alive. The neighbours think that the abnormal behaviour of the furniture is because of witchcraft. But the news of the theft of housekeeping money and Griffin‘s ready cash create suspicion on him.
Finally, the village constable is called but Mrs Hall starts asking about the abnormal behaviour of furniture. The scientist becomes furious at these queries and removes his costumes and becomes invisible. The constable who is called for to arrest Griffin is surprised to see a headless man. The constable tries to catch hold of the headless man but is hit by blows that come from the air. Finally, the constable falls down unconscious and Griffin manages to escape again.
The theme of this lesson is that excessive greed can have unintended and disastrous consequences as is evidently reflected in the story.
Another theme is that it is good and appreciating to have a scientific bent of mind and do various kinds of inventions and discoveries but, at the same time, it must be kept in mind not to misuse one‘s invention or discovery as has been done by Griffin in the story.
Expected Examination Questions
Q. 1. How would you assess Griffin as a scientist?
Ans: Griffin was a brilliant scientist. He discovered the rare drug which could make human body invisible but he misused his discovery. He was short-tempered and told lies.
He used bad means and created terror among the people. He did a lot of mischiefs and misused his discovery. He didn‘t use it for legal things.
He set his landlord‘s house on fire. He slipped into a big London store and stole food and clothes. Then he went to another store and stole things as well as money. In the village inn, he also stole money from the clergyman’s study. All this shows that he misused his discovery. So Griffin was a lawless scientist.
Q. 2. What did Griffin do inside the shop?
Ans: As it was mid-winter, he entered a big London store where he wore some warm clothes, shoes, an overcoat and a wide-brimmed hat in order to save himself from cold. He became fully dressed and visible. Then he ate some cold meat and coffee. And at last, he settled down on a pile of quilts, but he didn‘t wake early in the morning. When the assistants came into the shop, they chased him and he ran out of there. He was getting invisible by taking off his clothes one by one.
Q. 3. Griffin entered a shop of a theatrical company. What did he do there?
Ans: In the shop of a theatrical company, Griffin covered his body fully. He wore bandages around his face and forehead. He wore dark glasses, a false nose, a large hat and big bushy whiskers. He changed his appearance in the theatrical company by wearing theatricals items available there and then he hit the shopkeeper and robbed him off all the money he had and went on.
Q. 4. What was the “curious episode” that took place in the clergyman‘s study?
Ans: Very early in the morning the clergyman and his wife heard some noise which came from the study which revealed that someone was stealing money from the clergyman‘s desk in the study. On entering the room, they were surprised to see it empty and there was no one around. Both the clergyman and his wife searched every corner in the room, even they checked the chimney but all in vain. There was no sign of anybody there, still, the desk was open and the money was missing from it. They kept wondering about it all the day.
Q. 5. What happened to the constable?
Ans: When Mr Jaffers, the constable was called to capture Griffin, the scientist removed his clothes one by one in order to get invisible and ultimately became fully invisible. The brave constable still tried to get hold of the invisible scientist and tried his best to fight with the invisible man but he was hit by a shower of blows coming from nowhere. Mr Jaffers fell unconscious by this beating while Griffin saved himself from the arrest and went away.
Q. 6. Write the synonyms of the following words:
invisible = visible,
lawless = law-abiding
unconscious = conscious,
solitude = company
Q. 7. Read the passage and answer the questions:
Satisfied that her guest was an eccentric scientist, and in view of the fact that he had paid her in advance, Mrs Hall was prepared to excuse his strange habits and irritable temper. But the stolen money did not last long, and presently Griffin had to admit that he had no more ready cash.
1. Write down the synonyms of the following:
1. satisfied = content,
2. eccentric = crazy
3. excuse = ignore,
4. irritable = peevish
2. Fill in the blanks:
i. Her guest was…….
ii. Mrs Hall was prepared to excuse his…….
iii. But ……..did not last long. iv. Griffin had to admit that……….
I. an eccentric scientist
II. strange habits and irritable temper
III. the stolen money
IV. he had no ready cash