The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Shmoop loves a good view, and it would seem that Seuss did, too. What we have in mind here is the view of the Kingdom of Didd that King Derwin and Bartholomew share—well, kind-of-sort-of of share.
King Derwin's palace stands on a mountain top, and
[f]rom his balcony, he [can look] down over the houses of all his subjects—first, over the spires of the noblemen's castles, across the broad roofs of the rich men's mansions, then over the little houses of the townsfolk, to the huts of the farmers far off in the fields. (2)
The view makes King Derwin "feel mighty important" (3). When we first see Bartholomew, we learn he has the same view as King Derwin only he "saw it backward" (4). This backward view leads to a backward effect as Bartholomew feels "mighty small" instead of important (5).
And just like that, the view symbolizes both the similarities and differences between our two leads before the story even begins. The difference is obviously one of social standing. The King stands at the top of the social pyramid, or in this case, mountain. He literally looks down on all the tiers of society, so this prepares the reader for him being able to command all the members of society—which he totally does.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Bartholomew. He lives in a bog and looks up at all the others in the social pyramid. So when Bartholomew must do what everyone else tells him in the story, we understand the reasoning. He's the lowest of the low.
But that doesn't mean he and the King are completely different. Notice how the story stresses that they have "exactly the same views" (4, emphasis ours). Also, the illustrations show both characters enjoying their views while standing in the same manner, arms clasped behind their backs.
While they might be social opposites, Bartholomew and the King stand on equal footing in their personhood. There is definitely an "all men are created equal" type vibe even if their social standings don't exactly show it. In fact, you could argue that Bartholomew's headwear mishap is a way of equalizing their views.