How are Robert Walton and Frankenstein similar?

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Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein are similar in that they are solitary men of science who share a spirit of adventure as well as tremendous intelligence. They both want to push the boundaries of knowledge in their chosen scientific fields, sometimes sacrificing relationships to do so.

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Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein are similar in that they are both refined and educated men from the same social class who have the financial means to pursue their great ambitions.

Walton, as he writes to his sister, has been lonely during his Arctic explorations, not for lack of companionship, as he is on a ship full of men, but out of longing for a kindred spirit. As he gets to know Victor, rescued half dead on an ice floe, he responds to him with warmth and describes him to his sister as someone he could call a "brother."

Both men are close to their family members, as evidenced by Walton's letters to his sister, in which he not only writes but pours out his thoughts, dreams, and feelings. Victor, too, as he tells his story, talks often of feeling close to his loving, supportive family—one of his chief griefs is the way the creature has ravaged it (another reading might be that the creature has enacted his repressed desires). At the same time, both Walton and Victor are alike in isolating from their families to pursue their ambitions.

Walton has great ambitions for his voyage and hopes to make discoveries that might change science. Victor, the modern Prometheus of the novel's subtitle, has overreached in his quest for scientific glory. Like Prometheus, who overstepped human boundaries in giving humans fire, so Victor has crossed into God's terrain in creating life from inanimate matter. He is a warning to Walton of the dangers of pushing ambition too far.

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It's little wonder that Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein bond so quickly after their first meeting; they have quite a lot in common. Ambitious men of science, they find that their ambitions separate them from the common run of humanity, making them somewhat isolated. When they first meet, each man sees something of himself in the other.

Both men wish to push back the boundaries of scientific knowledge: Walton through his exploration of the frozen wastes of the North Pole, Frankenstein through his creation of a monster made from the body parts of dead people. Though these are clearly very different scientific experiments, they are nonetheless motivated by similar concerns.

As we see in Walton's letters to his sister, he genuinely believes that his expedition to the North Pole will ultimately be of benefit to humanity. He shares with Frankenstein a firm belief that only he can find what he's looking for, that only he can make such a scientific breakthrough.

In that sense, both men have very large egos that drive them on to achieve their goals. The big difference, however, is that Walton's focus is very much on doing good for humanity, whereas for Frankenstein, his creation of the monster is more of an ego trip.

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Both Victor and Captain Walton crave glory. They both long to make some valuable contribution to the human race and to be remembered forever, held up as heroes who accomplished something that no one ever had before. Captain Walton says to his sister,

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.

He wants to make a real contribution but, just as important, he wants to be recognized for his contribution to the species. Walton even tells Mrs. Saville, his sister, that he has "preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in [his] path." When Victor learns of Walton's plans, he implores, "'Unhappy man!  Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of the intoxicating draught?'" Victor obviously sees the similarities in their temperaments: the fact that both are willing to risk life and limb in order to achieve their goals.

Further, Victor tells Walton, "You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been." Victor compares his seeking for knowledge and glory to being bitten by a snake, and he hopes that he can give Walton the benefit of his experience and prevent his new friend from the same sad fate.

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"I agree with you," replied the stranger; "we are unfashioned creatures, but half made up."

These are the words of Victor Frankenstein to Mr. Walton; shortly after Victor  arrives on his ship, Walton writes enthusiastically to his sister about how excited he is now to have a friend.  And, this idea of the importance of friendship, one highly valued by the Romantics, is stressed in Shelley's novel. 

Both Walton and Victor search outside themselves for something that they can discover, something monumental that will give them meaning and a sense of worth.

 

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They are both guilty of hubris which is extreme arrogance. Walton states in his letter to his sister that one of his goals for traveling to the Arctic is so that he can bring glory to his name; Victor hopes for the same for himself. Both men, because of their hubris, put others' lives in danger unnecessarily. Victor does so to the extreme but fortunately is able to convince Walton not to go too far with his excursion.

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Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein act as doubles for one another. Both are ambitious people who seek to make names for themselves. Frankenstein wants to defeat death. Walton wants to explore Antarctica. Both are also driven by an obsessive desire for knowledge: Frankenstein's desires to learn about the creation of life and Walton desires to explore unknown territory.

The most significant similarity might be the isolation both men feel. Both men are highly intelligent and rather separate from other people because of this. Indeed, once Walton rescues Frankenstein, he is excited to have another intellectual to talk with on his ship since he feels isolated from his own crew. Both also feel alone in their ambitions and willingness to push beyond accepted limitations.

Despite all these similarities, they differ in one major respect: Walton does not go all the way with his ambitions. By the time Frankenstein encounters Walton, his life has been one massive failure after another as a result of his irresponsibility and unchecked ambition. Walton himself is in a similar situation: his crew are tired and the way ahead will more than likely lead to certain death. For Victor, any threat to his loved ones or himself was no deterrent. Walton is his foil in that he ultimately decides to turn back on his dream, unwilling to risk lives for the sake of science.

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Both Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein crave adventure. Robert Walton seeks to explore the boundaries of the natural world. In a letter to his sister, he expresses his desire to "satiate [his] ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited," and he also wishes to set foot on land no other man has explored in the Arctic realms. Similarly, Victor Frankenstein craves adventure by pushing the boundaries of human life. He wishes to touch the realms of science in ways no one has ever been able to do before. Similarly curious, Frankenstein wants to discover the path to a man never before createdone not birthed by a woman but instead created by his own hands.

Both men are also highly intellectual. Walton complains that he cannot enjoy friendship aboard the ship because no one shares his intellectual capacities. He is thrilled to encounter Victor Frankenstein, believing him to be the intellectual stimulation he's longed for. Frankenstein is indeed an intelligent man, highly praised by his teachers and classmates:

It may be easily conceived that my progress was rapid. My ardour was indeed the astonishment of the students, and my proficiency that of the masters. Professor Krempe often asked me, with a sly smile, how Cornelius Agrippa went on, whilst M. Waldman expressed the most heartfelt exultation in my progress.

In fact, the men seem so particularly focused on their intellectual quests that they are willing to abandon their relationships. Walton writes that he has worked on the details of his voyage for six years, and Frankenstein recalls that he never went home during the years he studied the sciences with his professors.

Both of these men want to be world-changers, impacting known understandings through their adventurous spirits, strong work ethic, and keen intelligence.

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Both Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein pursue greater knowledge and accomplishment.  They both hope to be the first to discover new, ground-breaking knowledge and skill.  Walton hopes to find a passage near the pole to the North Pacific Ocean to shorten the time it takes to make that trip, as well as to discover the power of the magnet.  Frankenstein hopes to find a cure to disease and death by learning the secret to reanimating lifeless matter. Both are focused on their goals to the point of recklessness.  Neither seems capable of predicting the dangers that may be involved in so persistently pursuing their goals. Both seem to have a one-track mind and will stop at nothing to reach the intended discovery.  Both risk life and limb in the pursuit.

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What are the differences between Walton and Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein?

At first glance, Victor and Walton seem to have a great deal in common. Both men have a seemingly insatiable thirst for adventure, and they both are willing to sacrifice personal relationships in order to further their goals. While Victor has focused his adventurous quests in the realm of scientific advancements, Walton has looked to the boundaries of the natural world, hoping to physically go where no one has been able to go before.

Their primary contrast lies in the understanding of their own limits. Victor seems to believe himself incapable of failure. When the monster promises to be with him on his wedding night, Victor doesn't take this threat seriously enough to consider the potential harm to his beloved Elizabeth. Thinking that he can somehow take care of the monster he's created single-handedly, he keeps his creation, the thing which has been the singular focus of his passions for years, from everyone he knows and destroys many lives because of this decision. On some level, Victor believes himself exempt from the laws of nature which he's spent so many years studying.

Walton leaves his family behind, much like Victor, to accomplish something no man has accomplished before. His sense of adventure leads him to desire to physically "satiate [his] ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited." Ultimately, Walton decides to abandon his goal because he realizes that "[he] cannot lead [the crew] unwillingly to danger." While Victor never fully connects his own actions to the potential to harm to those around him, Walton realizes the direct impact his quest for adventure has on the men of his ship. Walton's consideration for the safety of others helps him save not only the men on his ship but himself as well.

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What are the differences between Walton and Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein?

Victor Frankenstein and Robert Walton are similar in terms of their ambition, but Walton is able to learn from Frankenstein's story and does not make a potentially catastrophic mistake, as Victor has.

When Walton first takes Frankenstein aboard his boat in the Arctic, Victor is near death. He is at the end of what has been a tumultuous adventure, following his creation of a being from the body parts of corpses. Horrified by his project, Victor immediately abandons his creature, who is left to fend for himself. Despite the creature's pleading, Victor rejects him, and the two become caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle of revenge. The creature has killed numerous people close to Victor, and Victor in his turn has begun to make and then destroyed the creature's potential female mate. When we meet Victor at the start of the novel, he and the creature are chasing each other around the Arctic in a fight to the death.

As we learn from his letters to his sister, Walton is tremendously moved by Victor's plight and his story. Walton sees Victor as a great man whose ambition simply went too far. Hearing the story from Victor's perspective creates sympathy, and Walton wants to help Victor in anyway he can. He does seem to admire Victor's bold project, but Victor will not reveal the details of how he made his creature, eliminating the possibility of someone repeating his tragic mistake. While listening to Victor's story, Walton is on an ambitious mission of his own to explore the Arctic; however, at a certain point, the journey becomes dangerous for him and his men. Although Victor dies trying to influence Walton to carry out his own mission—to kill the creature—Walton is ultimately persuaded to instead turn back and not risk the lives of his men.

This final decision is what shows the major difference in the two characters: Walton is able to learn from Victor's mistake, while Victor was never able to repair his life and make amends. Instead, he became obsessed with revenge. Walton will not follow Victor into that destructive state.

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What are the differences between Walton and Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein?

Ultimately, Victor does not seem to learn from his mistakes or to even properly recognize that he made them. He tells Walton, just prior to his death, "During the last days I have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I find it blamable." He justifies everything that he did, despite the horrific effects his actions produced on his family and friends, and on the subject of the experiment itself: his creature. Victor's decisions affected a great number of people in tragic ways, and he gave those individuals no say whatsoever in the actions that would direct their fates. Walton, on the other hand, does learn something from Victor's story: he learns that he cannot endanger the lives of others who do not consent to take the risk with him. When his crew asks to return home for fear of death, he is disappointed--angry, even--but he does as they ask because he's learned from Victor's mistakes, even if Victor himself has not. Walton does not allow his pride to outstrip his humanity.

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What are the differences between Walton and Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein?

To some extent Walton acts as a foil to Frankenstein, serving to highlight certain important character traits. They share a number of common characteristics, and at various points in the book, Walton's actions parallel those of Victor, but crucially, in a positive way. Both are men of great scientific curiosity with an abiding passion for knowledge. However, there is a profound difference in the use to which they intend to put such knowledge. Walton is idealistic, wanting to use science to improve the lot of humankind. Victor, on the other hand, looks upon his research as the prelude to the establishment of a new race on earth, a race that will worship him as a god out of deep gratitude to its creator.

When Walton sees Victor for the first time, Frankenstein is in a pitiful state: freezing cold, emaciated, and exhausted. Walton revives Frankenstein with brandy and warm blankets. In a sense, he is bringing him back to life, but not in the way that Victor revives the dead in creating his monster. Walton's is a selfless act of fundamental decency and humanity; Victor's is an expression of overweening vanity and scientistic hubris. According to the prevailing moral standards of the context, Walton is acting as a good Christian should, showing the same kind of concern for Victor as the Good Samaritan did for the badly beaten traveler. Victor, on the other hand, in creating his monster, is playing God, taking on the role of creator, not because he wants to share his love with his creation, but because he craves complete adulation from a new race of acolytes.

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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.

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How do Victor and Walton compare and contrast in Frankenstein?

Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein have several similarities at the start of the novel, when Walton and his crew find Victor near death in the Arctic. By the end of the novel, however, it appears that Walton has learned from Victor's cautionary tale and will take a different path in his life than Victor unfortunately did.

Walton and Frankenstein are both sensitive and ambitious. These qualities are what probably draw Walton to Victor in the first place. When the crew brings Victor aboard, Walton feels pity for Victor, who is in a dire state. We learn later that he has become totally obsessed with finding the creature and they have been chasing each other in the Arctic. The creation of the monster and its aftermath have damaged Victor physically and psychologically, and the effects are obvious to Walton. Once Victor begins to tell his story, we learn that his downfall was his excessive ambition: he wanted to solve the mystery of life and death and took the creation of life (from dead parts) literally into his own hands. He does not, however, consider the consequences of his actions, and he ends up disgusted with his creature. He abandons it to fend for itself and eventually, the creature takes revenge on Victor after he learns that Victor has destroyed the female companion Victor reluctantly agreed to make for him. Walton is similar to Victor in the sense that he is also ambitious. He is with his men in the Arctic trying to discover and achieve things that no one has before. However, the mission is dangerous, and once he hears Victor's tragic story, Walton decides to protect the lives of his men and turn back. He learns that his ambition is not more important that the potential consequences.

Walton is very sympathetic to Victor and feels a kinship with him. He admires Victor and takes care of him in his last days. However, Walton also takes an important lesson from Victor's story, and the key difference in their characters is that Walton will not ultimately place his ambition over the lives of others or the potentially harmful consequences.

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How do Victor and Walton compare and contrast in Frankenstein?

Both Walton and Victor represent Romantic ideals, and are guided by notions of science and exploration. Both men desire to explore the unknown and are inspired by grand ideas. Victor immediately understands Walton’s need for a close, spiritual friend. Walton is very aware of the terrible sadness that envelops his guest; he feels a kinship towards him, believing him to be a person of great intuition and judgment.

Walton and his new passenger are alike in other ways. They are both sensitive, compassionate men who began their respective adventures with lofty visions, excited at the thought of the great discoveries they intend to make. They were both willing to endure great hardship in order to achieve their goals, and they were single-minded in the pursuit of their objectives. As an Arctic explorer, Walton, much like Victor, wishes to conquer the unknown.

Walton is different from Victor is some crucial ways though. 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. So, he succeeds where Victor fails.

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In Frankenstein, are there similarities between Victor and Walton?

I think that since Walton serves as part of the frame structure of this novel, his behavior that straddles the two main characters helps to foreshadow the conflict that both main characters will be forced to endure throughout the novel. Furthermore, Walton is affected by the two of the characters at the end, and so, on the one hand, it is even easier to see how he emulates both characters at the end...because he has come into contact with both. However, his aggression or arrogance has diminished as we are left with a moral by the demise, as it were, of both main characters. Walton now knows better than to follow Victor's path.

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What parallels do you notice between the characterization of Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein?

Both Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein are ambitious and sensitive souls. Like Victor, Robert wants to make new discoveries, which is why he has embarked on a risky journey to the Arctic.

Walton and Frankenstein also come from similar privileged class backgrounds and have known the support of loving families. The lonely Walton, rescuing the sick and famished Victor, sees in him a kindred spirit. The two are intellectual equals and Walton writes to his sister that Victor could be a friend. He says he sees sometimes in Victor's face

. . . a beam of benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equalled.

Just as Victor did, locking himself away in a lonely tower and denying himself the normal creature comforts in his obsessive quest to create life from inanimate matter, so Walton has denied himself an ordinary life to pursue his ambitions. As he writes to his sister:

I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep. . . . Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration. . . . And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been passed in ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path.

This sounds very much like the voice of the young Frankenstein. It is because Victor perceives that Walton is ambitious, just as he used to be, that Victor tells his sad tale. He wants to caution Walton to lead a more balanced life.

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