Frankenstein's Foil Characters: Walton and the Creature

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Robert Walton and the Creature both contribute much to Victor Frankenstein's character. They are both strong foil characters in the novel. A foil character is a minor character whose situation or actions parallel those of a major character, and by contrast clarifies certain elements of the major character. Because Walton plays a role that both parallels and contrasts to Victor's in many ways, it appears that Robert Walton is the more effective foil for Victor Frankenstein.

Walton's letters to his sister at the beginning of the story foreshadow the feelings and motivations that Frankenstein experiences when he first discovers the "the cause of generation and life." Both Walton and Frankenstein are adventures and obsessive with knowledge. The two strive to be the first man to do or see something. Walton is going on a voyage and is feeling excited about being on the verge of discovering new land, passages, powers, and glory . His enthusiasm in "discovering the wondrous power which attracts the needle and regulates a thousand celestial observations" and his "ardent curiosity to tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man" parallel the feelings of Frankenstein's fascination with the mystery of the creation of life. This same enthusiasm is expressed in this quote by Frankenstein; "the astonishment which I had at first experienced on this discovery soon gave place to delight and rapture."

The dangerous journey Walton embarks on is also a metaphor for the dangerous intellectual journey of Frankenstein's. "It is the marvelous which hurries me out of the common pathways of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am about to explore" exclaims Walton. In the same sense once Frankenstein discovers the ability to bestow life he "bore onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success." Toward the end of the story Walton and describes his perilous voyage in a letter to his sister saying, "I am surrounded by mountains of ice which...
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