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What is the significance of Captain Walton, and how does his character prepare us for that of Victor in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'?

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Introduction

Essay: What is the significance of Captain Walton, and how does his character prepare us for that of Victor in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'? In the novel, 'Frankenstein', we learn of one man's attempt to play God by creating a creature. This Gothic tale of horror is written in the form of an epistolary, which is a series of letters. These letters are written by a minor character by the name of Captain Walton. It is through his letters to his sister Margaret Saville, that the story is unravelled. At the beginning of both Volume 1 and the novel, we are introduced to a series of short letters written by Captain Walton. These letters provides us with information about Walton and help us to understand the undertakings of the major character - Victor Frankenstein. We learn that Walton is on a journey to discover the North Pole, and is quite 'ardent' in doing so. ...read more.

Middle

Although he is surrounded by seamen and shipworkers, he is Romantic in his description of wanting a companion and comments that those who surround him are the 'dross' of human nature. He believes that he is superior to them and wishes for the company of an individual who is equal in his level of intellect. As he was self-educated, there was none to criticise his actions. This is important, as, as the novel progresses, we learn that Victor similarly, was self-educated. Nonetheless, the quote mentioned above is significant, as it foreshadows the reasons behind the creation of the creature by Victor, and provides us with Victor's reasoning, to an extent. Nevertheless, Walton soon dons his melancholy and solitude, and begins to believe, that with the aid of science, he is able to do anything. We know, of course, that it was through science that Victor was able to create the creature, and so, once again, Captain Walton foreshadows the novel. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall, Walton is extremely significant in his character. He prepares the reader for the role and character of Victor, and foreshadows the novel many times. Further, as we perceive that the novel begins at the end of the tale, by Victor relating the story to Walton, we recognise that it is via Walton only that we become familiar with the character of Victor. As Walton finds Victor in a sledge, in the midst of his journey, and further, aids him, we realise that some disaster is to accompany the wretched state of Victor, and will result in him being found in such a position. Therefore, without Captain Walton having embarked on a journey, we would not have come across the major character - Victor Frankenstein, and would not have been able to comprehend him also. Thus, Walton's character is extremely significant as he prepares us for the complex role of Victor, and the shocking tale to be narrated. ...read more.

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