Walton’s Letters in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Essays
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Walton’s Letters in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
‘Frankenstein’ is a gothic, science fiction novel written by Mary
Wollstonecraft Shelley. It was written in Switzerland in 1816 and
London in 1816-1817.
The novel begins with a series of letters from the explorer Robert
Walton to his sister, Margaret Saville. The entirety of ‘Frankenstein’ is contained within Robert Walton’s letters, which record the narratives of both Frankenstein and the monster. Walton’s letters act like a framing device for Victor’s narrative. Shelley’s use of letters enables the shift of narrative from one character to another, while still remaining like a standard novel. Walton’s is only the first of many voices in ‘Frankenstein’. His letters set up a…show more content…
Walton is like a past version of Frankenstein before he created the monster. He is young, naïve and excited about the task which he will endure. Both Walton and Frankenstein were well educated and both were very close to their sisters.
From the letters, we learn that Robert’s passion for a sea-farer’s life stems back to his childhood, where he would read nothing but histories of voyages. Likewise, we learn in the first few chapters of the novel, after the letters, that Victor’s passion for science also came from his childhood where he would read books by
There are man similarities between Frankenstein and Walton which the letters convey, but at this point in the novel the readers do not recognise this as Frankenstein’s story has not yet been revealed to them. Frankenstein’s narrative is told after the letters.
Not only do the letters introduce the important character of Walton, but also of Frankenstein and the monster. The last letter introduces both characters. It starts off with Walton bursting with excitement at his discovery. He had met a young man on their voyage when their ship became stranded in ice. He first says that one day he saw a gigantic man (the monster) on a sled driven by dogs, and alter he had encountered another man (Frankenstein), very worn down by fatigue.
Although we don’t learn very much about either character in the letters, it is still important that they are in the letters as it introduces them
Beneath the most obvious plot line in Frankenstein lies a more subtle relationship between Walton, Victor and the monster. The three characters are very closely linked; their existence depends on one another. Walton represents the youthful desire for knowledge inherent in man, while Victor and the monster represent the moral compass for Walton to use in his scientific endeavors.
Robert Walton makes only a few appearances throughout Frankenstein, in the form of letters to his sister, Margaret. We begin to see very early on, from his first letter, that he is driven to make a name for himself in discovering the cause of magnetism, pave the way to the Pacific, or set foot on uncharted lands. He feels entitled, in fact, to a discovery, telling his sister that he deserves to “accomplish some great purpose” because of the lengths it took to make it as far as he had (3). This thirst for knowledge is paralleled in both Victor and in the monster. Victor finds “continual food for discovery and knowledge” in his scientific studies (30). Victor is farther along his studies than Walton into his, but stopped short of being able to fully understand the results of his experiment. Like a neglectful parent, Victor cast his creation to the winds...
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