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How does Frankenstein react to Walton's dream/goal in Shelley's Frankenstein?

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lifegoeson27 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 4, 2011 at 3:33 AM via web

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How does Frankenstein react to Walton's dream/goal in Shelley's Frankenstein?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 5, 2011 at 6:51 AM (Answer #1)

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Shelley's novel Frankenstein opens and closes with the personal letters and thoughts of Walton, a man at sea desiring to sail home. Unfortunately for him, or fortunately-however one may look at it, he is engaged by Victor Frankenstein. Walton has found Victor almost frozen and on the verge of death upon an iceberg. Victor shares with Walton, almost as a dying declaration, the story of his life and of the monster he created.

Given that both men lead lives filled with obsessions, Walton feels for the dying Victor and wishes to "soothe him":

I wish to soothe him; yet can I counsel one so infinitely miserable, so destitute of every hope of consolation, to live?

Victor sees no chance for his own survival and asks Walton to search out the monster who has ruined his life.

Walton's wish for Victor to survive is crushed given that Victor has given up on life. Victor has lost his brother, his wife, and his best friend at the hands of his monster. Victor sees no reason to continue on with his life. Walton realizes that the peace Victor finds in his dreams is the only thing which will soothe him. Walton has no other choice but to allow Victor to die.

Victor reitterates his desire to die, and go against Walton's wishes, in the following:

If I were engaged in any high undertaking or design, fraught with extensive utility to my fellow-creatures, then could I live to fulfil it. But such is not my destiny...

In the end, Walton must only allow Victor to die so that he may find the peace his mind and heart desire.

 

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