Frankenstein: The Letters and Chapters 1 & 2

A first impression of Walton would be to say that he is extremely ambitious. He desires to go to the North Pole to accomplish some great purpose. He has his own theories on what should be there, and will not rest until he has proved them. This is somewhat a Godlike ambition, in that he wishes to be praised for discovering something new which will benefit everyone else in the world. The language used is also very much like Old Testament, Biblical; Heaven shower down blessings on you. The image of Walton being Godlike is enhanced by this.

However, he is disrespectful of his family, as he goes against his fathers dying injunction, which had forbidden him from embarking on a seafaring life. He seems to be very egocentric, and not aware of anyone else or their feelings. He is deliberately disobeying his father to pursue a personal ambition. He is leaving his sister in England, and at the end of each letter he writes that he may not see her again, Farewell my dear, excellent Margaret, Remember me with affection, should you never hear from me again. Each time she receives a letter from him, she will be hopeful of his return and safety, and then he writes Shall I meet you again?. This is selfish of him, as it will worry her even more about his expedition. Again this Godlike theme reoccurs as he is doing what he wants to do.

Having only been educated about this passion through his own reading, he cannot really be sure of what he will discover once he reaches his destination. His beliefs that snow and frost are banished from the North Pole seem as eccentric as believing that the earth is flat. But of course he doesnt see it this way, he needs to prove his own theory. After failing at being a poet he doesnt want to fail as a scientist and explorer either. He is confident in his beliefs and will stop at nothing, not even employment as an under-mate in a Greenland Whaler, to get where he wants to be, and hopefully find what he wants to discover.

In the second letter, Walton writes about his desire for a friend. As he has left all his acquaintances in England, he no longer has anyone to convey theories and ideas to, participate in his joy, or comfort him in times of despair. He is alone, and will be for the next few years; and due to this he bitterly feels the want of a friend. As he is so far from home, he is isolated from the society which he now finds himself in. As a key gothic theme, isolation is something that is continued throughout Waltons letters. But he will not settle for just anyone as a friend and companion. They need to be someone who could sympathise with him, and whose eyes would reply to mine. He finds himself in solitude with no one to turn to for advice or comfort.

But usually, solitude is something you seek for yourself; here Walton is partially isolating himself, as he will not become a friend to those around him. However he is not alone, which is what solitude refers to. There are many people around him, and many good people who are easily liked, but Walton is impartial to them. He refers to the scenery of the places he visits with admiration. He writes about the beauty in every region and appreciates its magnificence.

When he meets Frankenstein, they almost immediately understand each other, and form a firm friendship. Frankenstein is the friend that Walton was writing about in the second letter. His soul mate, someone who understands his mad ambitions and shares his views. Walton protects him from the other sailors who are on the boat, and their prying questions. He refers to him as the brother of my heart when writing to Margaret. Walton shares his future ambitions with Frankenstein, who in turn tells him the story of how he came to be found on the ice, so far from home, or anywhere. He hopes that his own story will discourage Walton from continuing his voyage.

In chapter one we almost immediately see the typical gothic plot device of a deathbed scene. Frankensteins mother is caring for her sick father, a friend of Frankensteins father, and he dies in her arms. She becomes a stereotypical heroine by being brave and trying to continue with her life. She is found by Frankensteins father, who sees her weeping bitterly over her fathers coffin. He places her with a female relative until she is of age. They then marry and travel around Europe. Caroline continues to help people, as she feels it is her duty. This is typical heroine behaviour, being good and virtuous. She is a wealthy heroine, so therefore is expected to be charitable, helpful and caring.

When Caroline meets Elizabeth, she singles her out as soon as she sees her. This is due to her features. They are blonde, angelic and virtuous, unlike the other children in the family. Elizabeth is different to look at so it distinguishes her status. She is of a higher class than the family she has been brought up in, so it is only right that she should look different, which is why Caroline spotted her first. Her gold hair implies her riches, and loved by everyone, she is described as an angel, and celestial. The young Frankenstein feels it is his right to protect her, and that she is an object to be look after with the utmost care. Elizabeths mother died in childbirth, and she was brought up in another family. This is a typical gothic device for creating possible heroines.

The tableau scene of five hungry babies is showing Caroline what type of place she is in as soon as she enters. It is run down, shabby and the family is poor. They lost their money through no fault of their own, just as Elizabeths father did. She feels sorry for them, and tries to help them. Again, this is heroine behaviour.

Elizabeth grows up in Frankensteins family, and both she and Victor have the benefit of loving parents who both want them to do well. She learns to appreciate nature, and the beauty of it. This is a gothic plot device to show whether someone is a good person or not. Elizabeth is perfect heroine material due to her looks, behaviour and appreciation of nature. She is referred to biblically and religiously, cherub and celestial.

Frankenstein begins now to show an interest in science, and the hidden laws of nature. His closest friend, Henry Clerval, was however the opposite of him. Clerval is more like Elizabeth, in that he is interested in reading, poetry, and the romantic side of nature. He seems to balance Frankenstein out. Frankenstein wants to discover the secrets of heaven and earth, and the secrets of creation. He believes that fate has told him that it is his fate to discover these things, so he reads any books he can find on the subject. He shows these to his father who scorns them.

But as he doesnt explain why the books are useless Frankenstein only becomes even more determined. He wants to have the same Godlike recognition that Walton does now. Frankenstein wants to be able to cure man of all disease and make humans indestructible. They are extremely alike in their desires for recognition and wanting to achieve something others havent before.

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