Importance of Robert Walton's letters and himself in Frankenstein

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In the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Robert Walton is a ambitious character who desires to accomplish his dream from youth. Although, Walton only appears briefly in the book, he serves to be an important character. He is an important character to consider as he is a reflection of Victor Frankenstein's ruthless pursuit for knowledge. In this essay, I argue that the purpose for Robert Walton's letters being introduced in the beginning and the end of the novel is to allow the readers to develop a further understanding of dangers of irresponsibility associated with pursuit of knowledge. Consequently, Walton himself and his letters suggests that the tragedies can be prevented if individuals anticipate both negative and positive consequences that occur with wondering though the limitless boundaries of knowledge which Victor Frankenstein ignored.
Shelley introduces Walton's letters in the beginning of the book as they help to foreshadow the major theme of pursuit of knowledge that is prominent throughout the book. With Walton travelling to the north, the danger he will face is unavoidable as it has never been properly explored before. When Walton encounters the first sign of danger, he describes the situation as "somewhat dangerous" even though his ship was "surrounded by ice" and "compassed round by very thick fog" (Shelley 23). He describes his situation passively as he views the danger not imminent, this demonstrates the pursuit of knowledge and how Walton ignores it as he does not see it as a threat that could stop his strive for success, which is similar to Victor and his creation of the monster. Nicholas Marsh argues "knowledge [serving] ulterior motive [is] dangerous" (176) and furthers explains the two kinds of knowledge...

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...hey have significant purpose. Walton's letters are able to illustrate and foreshadow the themes of birth imagery, responsibility and unpredictability of the book while the character itself is a depiction of qualities which Victor could have used to prevent the tragedies.

Works Cited

Marsh, Nicholas. Analysing texts Mary Shelley Frankenstein. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print .
Poovey, Mary. " My hideous progeny: Mary Shelley and the feminization of romanticism". PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, 95, 332-347. (1980): 332-47. Humanities & Social Sciences Index Retrospective:1907-1984 (H.W.Wilson).Web. 2 June 2014.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. M.K. Joseph. Oxford: Oxford UP,2008. Print.
Thompson, Terry W. "Robert Walton as Reanimator". Papers on Language & Literature3 (2004): Literature Resource Center. Web. 2 June 2014.
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