Invisible Man

The Metaphysics of Sight and Sound 12th Grade

Throughout Invisible Man there are recurring images of waves and rhythms, which create a reality in which everything has its own frequency and wavelength. This concept operates as an underlying theme, which once examined is revealed to play into the idea of the narrator’s invisibility, and to help compose the overall metaphysical structure of the novel. This notion of frequencies appears many times in both visual and auditory contexts, eventually revealing the nature of the narrator’s invisibility: living on a different wavelength.

The narrator begins simply with: “I am an invisible man.”(Ellison 3) Immediately this claim sparks thoughts in the mind of the reader about what this invisibility means: “I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see… everything and anything except me.”(Ellison 3) Mirrors create images, which are exclusively visual. The simplicity of the sentence’s structure contributes to its mysterious nature and even though in the next lines the narrator gives an abstract explanation as to what his invisibility is, the reader never attains a literal explanation simply because the narrator’s invisibility is not literal. The narrator goes on to provide a more detailed...

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