Analysis of the Characters in The
As readers, there are numerous aspects within books that we find crucial to our enjoyment. Great settings, interesting plots, well-developed relationships, etc. Everything in the book is a part of what we analyze to figure out whether we enjoy a book or not.
But what I find most important to a book is the characters. Characterization can make or a break a book. Whether or not an author adds multiple layers and facets to a character’s personality are evident in their writing. Nobody likes the Mary-Sue characters that don’t have flaws. Nobody likes the characters that have all of the terrible traits layered on like thick makeup. A character has to be realistic. Oftentimes, if the characters are unbearable, I won’t even enjoy a book. They are the people narrating the book and the people that readers learn about. It’s no good if the characters scare away readers.
In the The Monstrumologist, one of my favorite parts of the book were the characters. I loved the quirky doctor and the utterly creepy personality of Kearns. Both Dr. Warthrop and Will Henry were dynamic, changing in their understandings of each other. I loved reading about how the two slowly grew closer to each other by the end of the novel.
Will Henry, Our Protagonist
The novel is from Will Henry’s point-of-view. I presume that he had written it much later, not at the time of the experience, because the doctor would have most likely scolded him for wasting his time that way.
Family and Connection to Dr. Warthrop
Will Henry’s father had been the late assistant of Dr. Warthrop. His father had idolized Dr. Warthrop, choosing to help the man instead of take care of his family. This reverence became a wedge between his father and his mother and was a constant topic in their arguments.
At one point, his father had taken a trip with Dr. Warthrop to Northern Africa. While there, a type of worm had infected his body, causing him to become terminally ill. While ill, he had gone crazy and accidentally caused a fire to spread. Will Henry’s mother had yelled at him to run, so he obeyed, resulting in him being the only survivor of the fire. Following their deaths, Dr. Warthrop took in Will Henry and made him his assistant.
As a result of his father’s idolization of Dr. Warthrop, Will Henry wonders if he is supposed to become exactly like him.
Character Changes Throughout the Novel
Will Henry starts out as a pretty spineless character. He lives and works as the assistant of the doctor, who is definitely not the best caregiver. His lifestyle is one where he is constantly woken up in the wee hours of the morning and he has taken to becoming the person who takes care of the doctor (even though he’s the child). In the beginning of the book, he constantly questions the reasons that the doctor took him in. He wonders if it’s out of obligation, pity, or the belief that he should continue his father’s legacy. He doesn’t understand why the doctor treats him the way he does or even why the doctor has mood swings. It all becomes clear by the end of the novel.
Will Henry is constantly struggling to figure out what are the right things to believe and what the right courses of action. Dr. Warthrop makes life difficult for Will Henry because he’s not exactly the best role model and now that his parents are gone, he doesn’t have any good models to follow (not that his parents were any better).
He’s recovering from the experience of witnessing the deaths of his parents, even though his mourning is not at the forefront of his thoughts. He has a hat that he reveres because it’s the last connection he has to his family.
By the time Will Henry has to kill Anthropophagi, he has become more brave. He feels the triumph of downing them and he no longer feels as if the doctor belittles him. In the life-and-death situation of killing the Anthropophagi, Dr. Warthrop had revealed just how much Will Henry meant to him.
Dr. Warthrop is a highly confusing character. He’s a little crazy and has the mood swings of a teenage girl. His catchphrase is “Snap to, Will Henry!” He rarely ever eats or sleeps and when he does, it’s because he wants to stay in bed because of some ailment or difficulty in an experiment. He seems to have the personality of a child, yet whenever a serious matter occurs, he instantly becomes composed and difficult. He doesn’t really understand emotions or how to project affection due to the fact that he didn’t spend time with his family as a child. His father was negligent, ignoring his letters in favor of his scientific studies. He hides his past, instead choosing to portray himself as a cheerful man. Will Henry learns more about Warthrop as the book progresses through letters and accounts from others.
As the Anthropophagi matter becomes more and more dangerous, other people come to help with the case, most notably Kearns, a man that specializes in the extermination of Anthropophagi. Kearns has a similar personality as Dr. Warthrop but in his case, his cheerful nature masks a merciless, scientific mind. He contrasts with Dr. Warthrop, making him appear to be less rude. With the appearance of Kearns, Dr. Warthrop quickly becomes more serious. Warthrop realizes the danger of the expedition and wants Will Henry to stay more careful.
At the same time as their adventure, Dr. Warthrop unveils a trunk of memories. It was his father’s. It contains
all his unread letters, artifacts, his father’s journal, etc, and it’s a painful scar of his past. The similarity between Dr. Warthrop and Will Henry is that both are desperately trying to stop clinging to their depressing past lives. Dr. Warthrop’s pain is a result of his father’s abandonment. He had grown up in a boarding school.
Will Henry had sneakily read one of the letters, curious as to why every single one was sealed. It had been written by Dr. Warthrop and sent to his father, who never bothered to read it. This is evidence of neglect which is the reason that Dr. Warthrop doesn’t really know how to act as a parent. He never had one.
Dr. Warthrop doesn’t really know how to show affection. He always says that Will Henry is his “most indispensable assistant”. Will Henry often questions how valid this statement is.
But in the end, Dr. Warthrop does show concern, manifesting in his characteristic scolding tone. It’s clear that Dr. Warthrop cares deeply for Will Henry and this care is shown more freely by the time the story is over. In the final chapter, both of them are shown to have come to a sort of peace with each other. They both understand and respect each other.