A Theme in The Monstrumologist
Theme: Sometimes in life, when a friend may be suffering, a person might face the difficult decision of whether or not they should end their suffering by death because it may be hard to decide what the right choice is.
This theme is brought up really early in The Monstrumologist. During their first encounter with the Anthropophagi, one of the characters is snatched and eaten alive. Dr. Warthrop quickly shoots him dead in order to end his suffering quickly. However, this action prompts Will Henry to wonder when it’s okay to do so, how you know that they want you to, as well as a multitude of other factors.
“The mouth below continued to work, chomping upward as the claw pulled the old man down, his free leg flailing like a drowning man’s trying to kick to the surface. I felt the doctor’s hands upon my waist, his voice barely audible above the cries of the doomed man.
‘Let go, Will Henry! Let go!‘
But it was not I who held fast with iron grip; it was Erasmus Gray. His fingers were wrapped around my wrist, and he was pulling me into the pit with him. All at once I slid farther in, for Warthrop had released me, and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the barrel of the doctor’s revolver slam against the old man’s forehead.
I whipped my head around, turning my face from the sight as the doctor pulled the trigger, snuffing out the old man’s screams of pain and panic in a single explosive instant.”
In this moment of the novel, Dr. Warthrop knows that Erasmus Gray cannot be saved. He had one reason for shooting Erasmus Gray – mercy. However, even with this reason, Will Henry cannot fathom why he decided to do it and how he made his decision to do so.
“The doctor scampered down the ladder. ‘Why are you staring at me like that?’
‘Mr. Gray -,’ I began, but the doctor cut me off.
‘We are slaves, all of us, Will Henry,’ he said, pulling the book from my hand and placing it upon the nearest stack. ‘Some are slaves to fear. Other are slaves to reason–or base desire. It is our lot to be slaves, Will Henry, and the question must be to what shall we owe our indenture? Will it be to truth or to falsehood, hop or despair, light or darkness? I choose to serve the light, even though that bondage often lies in darkness. Despair did not drive me to pull that trigger, Will Henry; mercy guided my hand’……
‘He was doomed the moment the creature struck,’ he went on. ‘No more absurd or insidious a precept has ever been laid down than ‘Where there is live, there is hop.’ Just as the trout is doomed once the bait is taken, there was no hope for him once the barbs were set. He would thank me if he could. As I would thank you, Will Henry.'”
This instant caused Will Henry to wonder if he would be able to do the same. If he would be able to shoot somebody to end their suffering.
It poses the question: Should you assume that victims would want you to end their suffering or should you play no role in their death?
This is often applicable in the event where a relative or friend may be in intense pain due to some type of ailment. They may be in a coma, fighting cancer, heart disease, blood infection, etc. There’s a multitude of different possibilities. But should you take them off of life support? Should you do nothing to prevent their death? Should you take drugs that will kill you without any pain?
What is the morally right thing to do?