Frankenstein: Letters II - III
In Letters II and III, the only characters involved include Walton and Mrs. Saville, his sister, both of which were mentioned and introduced in the first letter. That being said, these letters, written solely by Walton, give an indirect glimpse into his character. It is also important to note that he does not develop significantly as a character, seeing that the reader was just introduced to him. Firstly, the letters exemplify to a great degree the loneliness and utter isolation Walton feels, despite the fact he's surrounded by loyal crew members. In the 2nd letter, he states that,
"I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate in my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavor to sustain me in dejection." (pg. 4).
Reflecting upon his own education and upbringing, as well as his own personality, Walton recognizes that the men around him are loyal and strong, but not enough for him to find an emotional companion. He also views himself as a romantic, someone who marvels at the ideal, the heroic, and beautiful, and he wants someone to share those beliefs with, not someone who will scorn them. By giving the reader this information via a letter, Shelley is describing Walton indirectly through his actions. Finally, although not as significant, Walton's 3rd letter reveals his innate need for adventure, excitement, and danger, while maintaining his unwavering love for his dear sister.
Walton also brings up the fact that he daydreams and often confines himself to his imagination and romantic vision. Despite the novel being a gothic piece of literature, it also includes a significant amount of Romanticism. In letter 2, Walton states that,
"It is true that I have thought more, and that my day dreams are more extended and magnificent, but they want keeping..." (pg. 4).
Despite his loneliness and the circumstances of his current situation, Walton's narrative introduces the idea of Romanticism and how romantics view the world. Were it not for his imagination and his inherent feelings that characterize Romanticism, he would regard his situation as much worse than he is in these letters. This quote signifies how he occupies himself with dreams of beauty, glory, and discovery, but nevertheless has nobody to share them with.
"He is so; but then he is wholly uneducated: he is as silent as a Turk..." (pg. 5)
This quote is referring to the master of Walton's ship, whom he respects, yet cannot connect with. Walton mentions this to demonstrate how, despite the master's romantic qualities, there are yet other qualities of him, making Walton not able to sympathize with him.
"Yet do not suppose...that I am wavering in my resolutions. Those are as fixed as fate..." (pg. 6)
This simile is significant because it reveals Walton's determination in his tireless journey for adventure, discovery, and glory. Despite his gloomy situation and his lack of companionship, his motivations are as concrete as destiny itself.
"...if I should come back to you as worn and woeful as the "Ancient Mariner"" (pg. 6)
The term "Ancient Mariner" is an allusion to the poem called "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It details the life of a mariner after a very long and trying voyage at sea. Walton makes this allusion to demonstrate 1) one of the motivators for his interest in the vast ocean and 2) how his journey may try his character and return him to his sister as a new man.
In letter 2, Walton includes a short story about the master of his ship. The story involves the master's love for a woman and how he gives up most of his money and possessions to her true lover in order for her to be happy, not himself (pg. 5). Although perhaps not particularly humorous, the story establishes the character of the type of men Walton is with, some of whom, such as the master, demonstrate romantic qualities. This is then directly contrasted with their other qualities which make them incompatible with Walton's companionship that he seeks.
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