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jazz0210 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 8, 2010 at 1:16 AM via web

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Why does Walton make an analogy between himself and the "Ancient Mariner"?

In which letter is it found in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 8, 2010 at 1:36 AM (Answer #1)

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In Letter II of Frankenstein, Walton writes in the latter part of his missive to his sister that he is going to unexplored regions, to

'the land of mist and snow'; but I shall kill no albatross, therefore do not be alarmed for my safety, or if I should come back to you as warn and woeful as the 'Ancient Mariner'? 

Walton continues by telling his sister a "secret":  He has long had an enthusiasm for the "dangerous mysteries" of the ocean which has been influenced by his reading of Coleridge's poem.  And, as in Coleridge's poem, Walton's expedition is to the polar regions.  In fact, in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," the "polar gods" punish the sailor for his disrespect for nature by his killing of the albatross.  Similarly, Walton displays disregard for nature by later insisting that the ship remain stuck in the polar ice because he is so obsessed with reaching the North Pole.  Fortunately, of course, Walton is dissuaded by Victor Frankenstein and his crew, so he turns back from his mission. 

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