Invisibility in Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Essay

958 Words 4 Pages
Most commonly in literature, the concept of invisibility is taken to the extreme effect of being physically transparent and unseen by anyone. In popular media, the hero is also often portrayed as being invisible, going behind the enemy's back to complete his or her mission. In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, this view of invisibility is reversed; rather than being invisible and getting noticed, a man is in plain sight of everyone- however, due to a slew of stereotypes and prejudices, nobody recognizes what he accomplishes. Beginning his journey as a man who stays out of the way by doing what he is told, he is quickly forced to leave and go somewhere else to “find” himself. This change puts him into a position into which can be more …show more content…
H. Auden-
He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint…
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education…
To put it more simply, he was the perfect student. However, the incident with Mr. Norton that occurs in his junior year, involving the passive use of the narrator's invisibility, quickly turns foul and infuriates Dr. Bledsoe. During the intense argument that followed the narrator’s trip to the Golden Day, Dr. Bledsoe said, "Power doesn't have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it you know it" (Ellison 143). Bledsoe's idea of invisibility manifests itself here- what the narrator eventually learns that having power and being invisible can coincide with each other- a person can be "invisible" and successful as long as they have self-assurance and self-justification. This discussion with Dr. Bledsoe opens the narrator's eyes to the real world, showing that being right does not necessarily equate to being powerful- and people without power usually remain invisible.
The Liberty Paints plant, the place of work for the narrator for only a day, is one of the most important metaphors in the novel, serving to complexly
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