The Invisible Man Archetypes by Tristan

June 15, 2021


The Invisible Man Archetypes

The protagonist of Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison is a dynamic character. His archetype changes over the course of the novel. At the beginning of the book, he is the archetypal naif character. This can be seen from chapter 6 where he gives himself to Dr. Bledsoe’s influence up to chapter 8 where he gets betrayed, and the author writes:

Due, however, to circumstances the nature of which I shall explain to you in person on the occasion of the next meeting of the board, it is to the best interests of the college that this young man have no knowledge of the finality of his expulsion. For it is indeed his hope to return here to his classes in the fall. However, it is to the best interests of the great work which we are dedicated to perform, that he continue undisturbed in these vain hopes while remaining as far as possible from our midst.

But by chapter 10, the narrator has begun to transform into the archetypal nobody.  Evidence of this is shown in the prologue of the book:

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

The narrator is no longer the person who was naive and ignorant of the society where he lived.

A reader will recognise that the turning point of the narrator comes when he encounters the police. Page shows this:

 “Let’s go,” I said, listening and remembering and suddenly alive in the dark with the horror of the battle royal, but Clifton looked at Ras with a tight, fascinated expression, pulling away from me.