Robert Walton

Parallels with Frankenstein

CaptainWalton has a number of characteristics in common with Frankenstein himself:

  • he exhibits a masculine desire to explore, discover, conquer and control
  • he pitches himself against nature in his search for a new northern sea passage
  • by discovering this, he hopes not only to enable humanity to have greater control over nature, but also to acquire fame for himself.

Effect of characteristics

As with Frankenstein, Walton's character diverts him from establishing:

  • a permanent home
  • a lasting relationship from which he might derive love, sympathy and support.

All his emotions are channelled into his voyage and what he hopes to discover; all he has to spare for his family and friends are good wishes at the end of a letter.

Desire for companionship

At the same time, however, Walton longs for companionship, and in Letter 2 he complains to his sister that he is lonely:

  • he fails to find a friend among his crew – neither his English lieutenant nor his Russian boat-master can live up to his requirements.
  • the reason for this is that both are very different characters from Walton and he is really seeking someone like himself, a kind of alter ego, another self, who will reflect and echo his own thoughts and feelings.

Prepares reader for main character

In many respects, the image of Walton that emerges from his letters prepares the reader for the character of Frankenstein:

  • they share the same impassioned concentration on a single goal
  • they are both more preoccupied with a narcissistic self-regard than with the needs of other people.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Walton welcomes Frankenstein onto his ship so enthusiastically and is so enthralled by his story:

  • he recognises in Victor someone who is like himself
  • he recognises someone with whose attitude to life he can readily identify.
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