symbolism

The Monstrumologist – Another Symbolism Theory

Another Symbolism Theory

The Monstrumologist

I have a bunch of just random theories that I’ve come up with that may or may not be feasible. Just different ideas of what represented what y’know?

The Shrunken Head/Key Theory

Early on in the book, when Dr. Warthrop opens his father’s trunk for the first time in forever, one of the first objects pulled out is a shrunken head. While Dr. Warthrop isn’t there, Will Henry examines the head only to find a key. He plans on telling Dr. Warthrop before deciding not to because of the fact that Dr. Warthrop appeared to be very angry. He quickly pockets it, vowing to tell him later.

“I flung the head into the box. It ricocheted against one side before dropping down, rolling onto its side, and coming to rest atop the other items in the trunk. The force of the impact must have dislodged the object tucked inside the hollow of its tiny skull, for I glimpsed protruding from the neck a piece of bright red material. I pulled the head out again, grasped the end of the cloth, and tugged at it until the object to which the other end was tied pulled free of its cadaverous cocoon. It was a key – to what I did not know, but it was too large to belong to the trunk or a door.

‘Will Henry!’ shouted the doctor from the basement steps.

I dropped the head back into the box and jammed the key into my pocket. I would show it to him later, I decided……

I thought about mentioning the key, and quickly decided to wait until his mood had improved.”

Page 113-114

Will Henry completely forgets to give the key to Dr. Warthrop. It ends up unlocking the feeding chamber of the Anthropophagi.

Now, on the surface it’s just Will Henry being forgetful. But looking deeper (and possibly over-analyzing it), perhaps the fact that Will Henry is in possession of the key represents that Will Henry was the key to unlocking the lock that’s on Dr. Warthrop’s ability to let go of his past. Maybe the passing of the key symbolizes the moment where Dr. Warthrop comes to realize that he needs to appreciate his assistant more and that he isn’t alone in the world. Will Henry was what essentially caused the doctor to be able to make peace with his past. They were the reasons that both eventually got past their pain and grief.

My theory is spawned from the last chapter of the journal as well as the doctor’s reaction when Will Henry gives him the key. His reaction is one of surprise and wonder. The doctor is incredibly dense and unappreciative due to his childhood. Maybe this key passing represents this moment of realization. It’s certainly represented in the last chapter. Their relationship has evolved to a much closer one (because now they actually know stuff about each other).

The Monstrumologist – Symbolism

The Monstrumologist: Will Henry’s Hat

So here is the first post of my English project. It will discuss the symbolism of Will Henry’s hat within Rick Yancey’s book, The Monstrumologist. If you would like to avoid spoilers, skip this post.


I imagine that it would look something like this, but there was never a description of the hat. It did say that it was mud splattered and washable, so I inferred that it was something like a canvas bucket hat.

Early on within the novel, it is mentioned that Will Henry has a small cap, one that is too small for his head.

“He lifted my tattered little hat and squinted down at my face, a smile playing on his lips, and, despite myself, so comical was his expression of earnest study, I caught myself smiling back.

‘Ack! You’re right, not a child – a fine young man, then! D’ye know what I think it is that fooled me, William Henry? It’s this hat! It’s much too small for a strapping young man such as yourself. A fully grown man should have a man’s full grown hat!'” Page 53

Will Henry had been orphaned a mere year earlier, having witnessed his parent’s death in a fire. His hat is the only artifact he has left from his past life, having lost all of his possessions in the fire. He has a deep attachment to it, due to the fact that it’s the only connection left. The reader doesn’t know this though. Slowly, parts of his story are revealed to show that the only reason he still keeps the hat is because he hasn’t let go of his parent’s deaths. He feels panicky when he loses the hat. During the first expedition to the Anthropophagi’s lair, Will Henry loses the hat in the chaos of running for his life. When Dr. Warthrop returns to retrieve their lost cargo, he does not bring the hat back, must to the chagrin of Will Henry.

“‘No, sir. I mean, yes sir. I mean…I was wondering…That is, I’ve been meaning to ask if you found my hat.’

He stared at me uncomprehendingly, as if I were speaking an exotic foreign tongue.

‘Hat?’

‘Yes, sir. My hat. I think I lost it at the cemetery.’

‘I didn’t know you owned a hat.’

‘Yes, sir. I wore it to the cemetery that night, and it must have fallen off when they…when we left, sir. I was wondering if you might have found it when you returned to… to tidy things up there.’

‘I didn’t see any hats, except the one I gave you to destroy. Whenever did you acquire a hat, Will Henry?’

‘It was mine when I came, sir.’

‘When you came…where?’

“Here, sir. To live here. It was my hat, sir. My father gave it to me.’

‘I see. Was it his hat?’

‘No, sir. It was my hat.’

‘Oh. I thought perhaps it held some sentimental value.’

‘It did, sir. I mean, it does.’

‘Why? What is so special about a hat, Will Henry?’

‘My father gave it to me,’ I repeated.

‘Your father. Will Henry, may I give you a piece of advice?’

‘Yes, sir. Of course, sir.’

‘Don’t invest too much of yourself in material things.’

‘No, sir.’

‘Of course, that bit of wisdom is not original to me. Still, much more valuable than any hat. Have we satisfied your inquiry, Will Henry?’………..

‘I just wanted to know if you found my hat,’ I said.

‘Well, I did not.’

‘That’s all I wanted to know.’

‘If you’re looking for my permission to purchase a new one, get thee to a haberdasher, Will Henry, with the caveat that you do sometime today.’

‘I don’t want a new hat, sir. I want my old hat.’

Page 187-189

Will Henry still aches for his family, even if he doesn’t realize it. His concern for his old, tattered hat shows the first stage of his character development.

Also, throughout the book, Will Henry battles the confusion within, wondering why he listens to the eccentric Dr. Warthrop. He knows that the man is not capable of being a worthy guardian, attributed to his lack of concern for Will Henry’s basic needs. Food and sleep are the last things on his mind and in multiple scenes, he chastises Will Henry for wanting to eat. At one point, Will Henry came to the conclusion that the only reason he continued to work for Warthrop was because firstly, he was the only thing he had left, and secondly, he felt that it was his duty as the successor to Dr. Warthrop’s assistant. Will Henry’s father had been the doctor’s assistant. His reasons for working are connected to his little hat.

However, as the adventure unfolds, Will Henry learns what it means to let go and Dr. Warthrop learns what it means to care for others. In the end, Dr. Warthrop gifts Will Henry a hat, which he accepts. The old hat is burned along with the the remnants of the doctor’s past. This burning symbolizes the two of them letting go of the painful past, together and is a sweet moment where the two have come to understand each other.

“The doctor was sitting on the floor before the hearth, stoking the fire. Besides him sat his father’s old trunk. If he noticed my appearance, he gave no sign of it, as he threw open the lid and, one by one, began tossing the contents into the crackling conflagration…….

‘What have you got there, Will Henry?’ he inquired without taking his eyes from the purifying pyre.

I looked down at the two hats lying side by side in lap. I raised my head and studied his face, turned away from my own, turned toward the fire. Upon his angular profile shadow warred with light, the obscured visible, the hidden revealed. His father had named him Pellinore in honor of the mythical king who quested after a beast that could not be caught, an act of thoughtless cruelty, perhaps; at the least a fateful portent, the passing on of a hereditary malady, the familial curse.

‘My hat, sir,’ I answered.

‘Which one, Will Henry? That is the question.’

The fire popped and crackled, snapped and growled. That is it, thought I. A fire destroys, but it also purifies.

I tossed my old hat into the center of the flames. Warthrop gave merely the slightest of nods, and in silence we watched the fire consume it.

‘Who knows, Will Henry,’ he said after it had been reduced, like the effluvia of his father’s life, to ashes. ‘Perhaps this burden you bear will prove a blessing.’

Page 425-426

The journey of the hat shows the process it took for Will Henry to come to peace with his parent’s passing as well as the relationship he had with the doctor. In a way, the gifting of the hat also symbolizes the new level of respect and understanding that Will Henry had come to develop with the doctor.