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In "Frankenstein", how does Robert Walton feel about his guest?

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redhippo | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 23, 2009 at 11:26 AM via web

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In "Frankenstein", how does Robert Walton feel about his guest?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM (Answer #1)

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Just before Robert Walton meets Victor, he has written his sister about the need for a friend. He writes his sister:

" I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection."

Thus, when he meets Victor, Walton is astounded that thehalf-frozen man will not come aboard until he finds out Walton's ship is headed for the North Pole. During the next few weeks, Walton becomes fascinated with his guest. He writes:

 "I never saw a more interesting creature: his eyes have generally an expression of wildness, and even madness; but there are moments when, if any one performs an act of kindness towards him, or does him any the most trifling service, his whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equalled. But he is generally melancholy and despairing; and sometimes he gnashes his teeth, as if impatient of the weight of woes that oppresses him." 

As Victor continues to recover, Walton is even more fascinated:

"My affection for my guest increases every day. He excites at once my admiration and my pity to an astonishing degree."

When Victor promises to tell his story, Walton is both happy yet cautious because he doesn't want to upset Victor. However, Walton vows to "take notes" as Victor tells his story. By the end of the story, Walton expresses his admiration of Victor. He says,

"Must I then lose this admirable being? I have longed for a friend; I have sought one who would sympathise with and love me. Behold, on these desert seas I have found such a one; but I fear I have gained him only to know his value and lose him."

However, Walton does lose Victor. But he does learn from his story. Instead of focusing on science at all cost and pushing on towards the North Pole, Walton learns that his crew's lives are more important than scientific research and he turns back to England rather than risk his life, as Victor did, in the pursuit of knowledge.

 

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