Frankenstein Questions and Answers
by Mary Shelley

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In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, what does Robert Walton tell readers about himself in the letters?

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Felicita Burton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Robert Walton is writing the letters to his sister but cannot be sure she will ever receive them. The letters therefore serve more as a journal, so he seems to be writing honestly. While Walton couches some of his insights in terms of societal expectations, he uses the letters to present his inner thoughts.

Walton tells his sister about Victor Frankenstein’s story, apparently because he needs to unburden himself of the horrific sensations the story caused. Because the reader receives the story filtered through Walton’s words, we cannot be sure if he distorted the tale. Perhaps he is interpreting the doctor’s story through the lens of his own experiences and hopes. It could even be that Victor is Walton’s alter ego, and the creator-monster relationship stands for Walton’s imagination, inventing in Victor the sympathetic friend he seeks.

Walton is primarily an ambitious man. He is committed to dedicating—even sacrificing—his life to exploration. His motivations, however, are as...

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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