Why do we hear Walton's voice first and last in "Frankenstein"?

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walton's letters begin and end the novel, serving as a frame structure for Victor's and the creature's narratives. In this way, Walton embodies the most important qualities found in both Victor and his creature. In other words, Walton balances the exploratory yet arrogant qualities of Victor, with the sympathetic, sensitive qualities of the creature. As an Arctic explorer, Walton, much like Victor, wishes to conquer the unknown. However, when he discovers Victor near death on the icy water, he listens to Victor's bitter and tormented tale of the creature. This makes him reconsider continuing his own mission, if it will put his own crew in danger. When the creature appears as Victor's is dying, Walton fails to destroy the creature, as Victor requested. Instead, he does what Victor continually failed to do: he listens to the creature's anguished tale with compassion and empathy.

Walton’s letters also set a realistic tone for what is otherwise a completely fantastic story. He is introduced as a pragmatic man, concerned with facts and the practical matters of his expedition. But he is also a Romantic adventurer, eager for the rewards of new experiences and sensitive to human emotions. This create a practical lens through which we view the supernatural story within.

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