How does the presence of Robert Walton in this book affect the text's treatment of science?

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lmillerm eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Robert Walton is essentially the narrator of the novel. He is retelling Victor's tale as Victor told it to him. Walton found Victor in the frozen Arctic and saved the young scientist from a death out in the elements. Victor told Walton the story of the creature. Walton, an Arctic explorer is in search of uncharted territory, which is similar to Victor's scientific studies. The similarities between the two characters make them sympathetic to one another. In addition, because Walton is not directly related to the story, he is able to add an air of sympathy in its retelling. Walton sees the likability and potential of the creature that Victor is unable to see, and Walton is able to portay that in his narrative. If Victor were the narrator, the tone and character portrayal would be wildly different.

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While Victor is really uncompromising and never seems to be able to understand the role that he plays in the deaths of his friends and family, Walton is ultimately able to see that he has no right to jeopardize the lives of his crew when they are unwilling to go forward with their expedition. When they ask him to turn around, as much as it pains and angers him to do so, he does go back and return his men to the safety of their home. Both Victor and Walton are men of science, and both crave glory and want to benefit humankind with their discoveries. However, only Walton is able to recognize that human life is more important than his pursuit of scientific truths. His presence makes it seem as though science can take a more humanistic view of the world.

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