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In the opening letters of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the stranger tells Walton, "My...

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user2924226 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 22, 2013 at 9:27 PM via web

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In the opening letters of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the stranger tells Walton, "My fate is nearly fulfilled... nothing can alter my destiny: listen to my history, and you will perceive how irrevocably it is determined." Relate this to the story of the Ancient Mariner (Coleridge).

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

Posted October 24, 2013 at 12:31 AM (Answer #2)

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" illustrates what happens when mankind fails to recognize the importance of nature. Essentially, because he refuses to see the ultimate power of nature, the Mariner must live a life paying for his mistakes. As the result of killing the albatross, the Mariner's fate is to tell his story to all who will listen in order to insure they do not make the same mistakes in life. The wedding guest is fated to be the one who leaves the Mariner "a sadder and a wiser man"--sadder because of the weight the Mariner must bear (never really being free of the albatross) and wiser because he will not make the same mistake the Mariner made. 

Mary Shelly illustrates this concept in her novel Frankenstein. Victor, or the stranger in the opening letters, states that his "fate is nearly fulfilled... nothing can alter [his] destiny. He wishes Walton to "listen to [his] history, and you [Walton] will perceive how irrevocably it is determined." Like Coleridge's Mariner, Victor, too, must share his tale in order to insure that others do not follow in his path. Walton, driven by his ambitious nature, is at risk of insuring his own doom. Like Victor, Walton's ambitious nature pushes him to the brink. Victor, recognizing Walton's tragic flaw (hamartia), finds it necessary to warn him about his possible fatalistic choices. 


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aszerdi | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted September 24, 2013 at 6:04 AM (Answer #1)

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The main character of Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner kills the albatross, imposing human dominance over nature and upsetting the hierarchy of the natural world. Victor Frankenstein, who has not yet been identified as the stranger at this point in the story, has committed a similar offense by creating the creature and challenging the natural, perhaps even divine, process of creation.

This moment, when the stranger stops Walton and bids him to listen to his tale, is reminiscent of the moment when the mariner stops the wedding guest and beckons him to listen to his history as well.

Furthermore, the histories of both the mariner and Victor Frankenstein document the tragic consequences that they both paid for their reckless actions. Victor Frankenstein's entire family is killed by the creature. The mariner too must watch his entire crew die before he is able to return home. 

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