In Ellison's novel, Invisible Man, the character of Dr. Bledsoe plays an important role in helping the narrator realize the world of disillusionment in which he lives. Dr. Bledsoe proves himself to be master of masks; able to hid his true intentions from both Whites and Blacks. Thirsty for power, Bledsoe does whatever it takes to whomever ever he can, regardless of their race. Originally regarding him as an idol, the narrator eventually learns that the humble Dr. Bledsoe was in reality a manipulator, controlling and using people to his advantage. Seeing this, the Invisible Man slowly begins to realize the reality of the world in which he lives.
Dr. Bledsoe's acts of humility and speeches of humbleness are all attempts to disguise his true aim. The mask he wears makes an actual influence within the white dominated society that he lives and serves as a way to gain power, as well as preserve what he already has.
Being the president of the Negro College, he is often found flattering white men and convincing them that Blacks at his school are all peaceful and good-natured, all in attempt to get money from them. His 'concern' for the college's image is once again a mask in which he uses to hide his true motives. Further enhancing Bledsoe's character, he claims that he has 'played the nigger' long enough to earn him all the power he has now, and because of this he refuses to let the naÃÂ¯ve narrator reveal his real motives. This reveals that all his actions are simply attempts to faÃÂ§ade his greatest fear of losing all his power. He knows that if his dishonesty were revealed, he would be stripped of both his image and power. Because of this, he must continuously wear his mask and has forever burdened his life.
The impact that Dr. Bledsoe has on the narrator is crucial in his gradual realization of reality. While the narrator explains that he drove Mr. Norton to the slave quarters only by orders, Bledsoe exclaims, "Damn what he wants! We take these white folks where we want them to go, we show them what we want to see." Dr. Bledsoe has been an inspiration to the narrator until now, as it is here that he recognizes Bledsoe's true character. Bledsoe continues by accusing the narrator and all blacks of manipulating whites. His hypocrisy is amplified when the narrator sees him talking sincerely to Mr. Norton, completely contrasting with what Bledsoe had stated earlier. Bledsoe's thirst for power will not allow the young narrator to expose his dishonesty and gets rid of the problem by simply shipping him off to New York. This is yet another display of his villainous actions. He takes advantage of the fact that the narrator is still partially blind to his true motives. From this, we can see that Bledsoe uses his faÃÂ§ade not only to fool white men, but even his own students, members of his own race. Bledsoe's actions are the first to spark the narrators coming to reality of society he is situated in. The author ultimately begins to realize that it is not only the Whites that are prejudice towards other races.
Seeing the true side of Dr. Bledsoe aided the young narrator in his eventual elimination of blindness. The author came to the college, naive and unaware the discrimination that he would face. However the unexpected change in character of Dr. Bledsoe helped shake him into reality. Blacks were just as easily capable of villainous actions as whites were. Dr. Bledsoe took this even a step further when he did not hesitate to do the same to his own race. The fact that the author still trusts Bledsoe symbolizes that his awareness to reality has just begun. He is still unable to fully look underneath the surface of Bledsoe's mask. Despite this, it was still a start to the narrator's ultimate understanding of the world in which he lived.