What Sort Of Man Is Walton? 1) Does He Serve Any Thematic Function In The Novel Or Is He Included Largely As A ‘Storyteller’.  That Is, Is He Inc...

896 words - 4 pages

‘Frankenstein’ or ‘The Modern Prometheus‘ is a 19th century gothic novel written by Mary Shelley. Shelley’s interest in the physical sciences had led her to writing a novel that is based on creating human life in an unnatural way. Victor is one if the narrators who has an unnatural obsession with the sciences led him to discover the secret of life; creating the abomination that is his monster. Walton serves as the neutral narrator that has no personal impact on Victor’s and the monster’s tales. It is through Walton that the monster was able to express his feelings at the death of his creator.
Robert Walton’s role within the novel is standing as the neutral character who acts as the filter for Victor’s personal perspectives and biases. He is separate from the action within Victor’s story so can remain unprejudiced in areas where Victor cannot. Similar to Victor, Walton is a man of science wanting to conquer the unknown and appears to go through with his wishes even though his sister tries to talk him out of it. On the other hand, his crew are near to mutiny due to the pressure that is put on them to reach the Artic. However, Walton does what Victor continually failed to do throughout the novel: he listens to the creature’s anguished tale as he describes that he felt no pleasure from hearing ‘the groans of Clerval’ as he suffocated him. Walton, despite at first feeling ‘touched by the expressions of [the monster’s] misery’, confronts the monster, outraged, naming him a ‘wretch’ but carries on listening to his misdeeds and misfortunes. By Walton listening to the monster’s own words, he is able to distinguish that Victor seemed to only have knowledge of the monster’s ‘crimes and his [own] misfortunes’. Walton had become the opposite of Victor, turning out to be a ‘foil’ in which his actions appear to contrast with Victor’s.
Shelley appears to use Walton as a parallel to the two other protagonists of the novel, though critics such as Laura Claridge described Walton as ‘Victor’s shadow self’ and ‘a potential Frankenstein’ who instead of creating life, wants to conquer the ocean and discover ‘uncharted regions’. Though in contrast to Victor, Walton has a ‘nascent sense of responsibility to his larger family aboard ship’ and listens to ‘his men’s fears’. Though it does also appear that Shelley is also contrasting her own upbringing with Victor’s as it is well known that Shelley’s upbringing was one of solitude where she was unable to hold any social relationships due to travelling a lot....

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