Why Does Frankenstein Begin and End with Walton's Letters?

Topics: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Novel Pages: 4 (1202 words) Published: May 7, 2007
Why does Frankenstein begin and end with Walton's letters?

Victor Frankenstein is a scientist whose ambition will be fatal. His story is central to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Nevertheless, Shelley gave a frame to Victor's tale as Frankenstein begins and ends with Captain Walton's letters. In this analysis, I will show that Shelley did not insert the letters by chance, but that they add a deeper dimension to the novel.

Walton's letters play an important role for the reader may find many foreshadowed themes. As the novel progresses, the reader will realize how Walton and Victor Frankenstein share similar views on their life's roles. Both men are driven by an excessive ambition, as they desire to accomplish great things for the humankind. Walton is an explorer who wants to discover a new passage to the Pacific and therefore conjures "inestimable benefit… on all mankind to the last generation" (16). Victor's purpose is to "pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation" (49). These explorers will demonstrate that such pursuit can prove to be very dangerous in quest for knowledge. Walton's ship becomes stuck in the ice and Victor's creation finally kills everyone dear to him. However, this parallel is not the only one: we can easily compare Walton's search for a friend ("I have no friend, Margaret" (19)) with the monster's request for a female because he feels alone ("I desired love and fellowship" (224)). This similarity between man and monster suggests that the monster perhaps is more similar to men than what we may perceive. If it is assumed that Shelley also shared this view when she wrote the novel, maybe she meant that the real monster manifests itself differently than the common assessment.

In the novel, Walton acts as a confidant for both Victor and the monster. He is the first man to be in Victor's secret and subsequently to learn of the monster's existence. It would be wrong to say that...
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