Captain Robert Walton tells his sister in letter IV that “you may deduce an apt moral from my tale”. What is the moral of Walton's tale in the novel Frankenstein?
An important theme of this play is the dangers of intellectual ambition. In many ways, Walton and Frankenstein are presented as being doubles, or characters that bear particular similtarities. The major comparison that can be drawn between them is the way that both are subject to unrestricted and dangerous ambition that threatens to push back the very boundaries of what man can do and play God. For Victor, this is of course expressed in his self-obsessed determination to create life, whatever the consequences. For Walton, his ambition is expressed through his determination to reach the centre of the North Pole and whatever land may exist there:
But success SHALL crown my endeavours. Wherefore not? Thus far I have gone, tracing a secure way over the pathless seas, the very stars themselves being witnesses and testimonies of my triumph. Why not still proceed over the untamed yet obedient element? What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man?
It is only through hearing the tragic story of Frankenstein and what happens when ambition is allowed to reach its goal that Walton realises that unrestrained ambition is a very dangerous force, and he returns home without having reached his goal, wiser and more aware of the limits of man's knowledge and the dangers of over-reaching those limits. This is the moral of the story.