How do Victor and Walton compare and contrast in Frankenstein?
Victor and Walton both embark on quests for knowledge that they hope will earn them fame and benefit humankind. Victor says that he considers wealth to be an inferior object, and he wants most to "banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!" Walton hopes to see a land that no man has ever seen before, a country of eternal light, and he writes to his sister, Mrs. Saville,
you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind, to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.
Both men long to make names for themselves by increasing the knowledge possessed by humankind. However, Victor, ultimately, seems not to have truly learned from his experiences; at the very least, he does not practice what he preaches to Walton. He says, for example,
Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.
He also describes knowledge as something dangerous, a "serpent" that can "sting" if one is not incredibly careful. However, when Walton's crew eventually comes to the captain to request that the ship return home, Victor calls them all cowards and tells them that they are making a big mistake. Walton, on the other hand, feels that he cannot endanger the lives of others when they are not willing to risk their lives themselves. For him, the cost of human life is not worth knowledge. For Victor, evidently, knowledge is still more important.