Robert Walton

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Last Updated on October 24, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 495

Extended Character Analysis

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Robert Walton is the narrator of the novel’s frame story and his letters to his sister Margaret convey Victor’s story to readers. His ship rescues Victor during an expedition in the arctic and Victor and Walton become friends. Victor tells Walton his life story and cautions the younger man against pursuing forbidden knowledge. At the start of the novel, Walton is a young, self-educated man who hopes to uncover new knowledge and make an impact on the world by exploring the arctic. However, after his encounter with Victor, he reluctantly turns back towards England at the behest of his crew, unfulfilled but ultimately wiser.

In his letters to his sister, Walton comes across much like a young Victor. He hopes to uncover new knowledge by exploring the arctic, and he hopes to obtain mastery over nature, just as Victor once sought to obtain mastery over death. However, he also shares several qualities with the creature—specifically his loneliness and his being self-educated. Walton represents a balance between the creature’s anguished loneliness and Victor’s unchecked arrogance. Like Victor, he seems to come from a loving family that encourages his fanciful ambitions. However, like the creature, he is aware of his own inadequacies and lacks a friend with whom he can share his innermost thoughts and feelings; however, Walton possesses a belief in his intellectual superiority and claims he can’t find companionship with his crew members. To Walton, Victor is a welcome intellectual equal, and he admires Victor, expressing a desire for his friendship. Walton also shows a willingness to listen to the creature’s story, speaking to his understanding of another lonely soul. Walton is the perfect person to hear both Victor’s story and the creature’s story since he is able to empathize with both.

Walton also displays a degree of sensitivity that neither the creature nor Victor possess. In their mutual isolation, both Victor and the creature disregarded the feelings and opinions of others in pursuit of their selfish goals. By contrast, Walton, however reluctantly, listens to his crew and turns back to England instead of pursuing the creature and his own ambitions to journey further into the arctic. More so than either Victor or the creature, Walton is a compassionate and thoughtful person who sets aside his own selfish impulses for the good of his crew.

Both Victor and the creature recount their stories to Walton in a sort of confession prior to death. For Victor, Walton represents the chance to end the secrecy that has ruined his life. Though he falls short of true redemption, Victor can at least die knowing that one living soul might benefit from his mistakes. For the creature, Walton represents his final opportunity to forge a human connection. Though their acquaintance falls short of the friendship that Walton shared with Victor, the creature can now die knowing that someone is left behind to remember the injustices of his life.

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Minor Characters

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