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The Role of Improvisation in Invisible Man

In: English and Literature

Submitted By bakeygunz
Words 2836
Pages 12
The main protagonist of Ralph Ellison invisible man is not the only one who remains unseen as the novel unfolds. Another element also cloaked in invisibility follows our unknown character throughout the novel, changing both beat and tempo as the novel develops.

Rather like the invisible man, the ongoing musical beat that runs through out the invisible man’ may not be visible yet it is very clearly felt and heard. It is the distinct incorporation of the inflowing musical beat that allows for an interloping of ideas based upon the visible, the invisible and the creative with the novel.

The main theme within the ‘invisible man’ is that of the more obvious theme of invisibility. Ellison explores through the use of music such as in the form of jazz the moments or experiences where invisibility takes control. Such breaks in visibility signify a chance for the protagonist to escape and break the mould of the what can be called ‘constitutional visibility’ allowing for the exploration of ones own identity and individuality. An individuality and identity that is not in any way restricted to what is generally accepted as visible.

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Such breaks that allow for such explorations to take place within the novel can be seen from the very beginning where in the prologue the protagonist recalls a certain incident:

Once I saw a prize-fighter boxing a yokel. The fighter was swift and amazingly scientific. His body was one violent flow of rapid rhythmic action. He hit the yokel a hundred times while the yokel held up his arms in stunned surprise. But suddenly the yokel ... struck one blow .... The smart money hit the canvas. The long shot got the nod. The yokel had simply...

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