Frankenstein Questions and Answers
by Mary Shelley

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In Frankenstein, what does Robert Walton dream about or wish for?

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Robert Walton embarked on a journey inspired by the urge for discovery. He wanted to explore the uncharted land and sea around the poles. He hoped to discover the secret of magnetism and its ability to attract the compass needle. According to him in his first letter to his sister, his journey, although believed to be perilous, was important. He asserted that the journey was not only important towards the fulfillment of his childhood dreams as a seafarer but also to humanity. By going through the pole, Walton hoped to discover new routes that would reduce the travel time to distant lands. He hoped to find answers to old questions about the celestial bodies and satisfy man's curiosity as it regards such issues. Walton also aspired to accomplish something great that would fulfill his deep desire for glory.

In summary, he wished to;

  • Discover the power of magnetism
  • Discover new routes to distant lands
  • Achieve glory by accomplishing something great
  • Make discoveries about celestial bodies

In his own words:

What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle; and may regulate a thousand celestial observations that require only this voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent forever. I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death, and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage- Letter I

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McKinstry Rose eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In his opening letters, Walton informs his sister that he dreams of gaining fame for himself by traveling to the Arctic and making an earth-shattering discovery, such as the source of the earth's magnetism, new celestial observations, or a passage to the other side of the world.  While this is Walton's chief goal, he also wants to find a like-minded friend, someone who is curious and so focused on adventure and discovery that that person is willing to risk his or others' lives.

Mary Shelley uses Walton's goals to foreshadow Victor Frankenstein's original goal and the disastrous results of that goal being accomplished.

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