Examining Frankenstein Through the Lens of Walton
Examining the novel of Frankenstein so far through the lens of another character is a difficult and admirable task. I have chosen to view the story that Victor has told so far through the eyes of Walton. Walton is the original narrator and is desperate for a friend, which he manages to find in Victor Frankenstein. Examining Frankenstein’s story through Walton’s eyes will cloud some of Frankenstein’s errors and overlook some of his mistakes. This I believe to be true because Walton already seems almost obsessed with his new companion, and indeed is very fascinated and enamored with him.
Walton, who mentions his loneliness in the beginning of the book in his letters to his sister, which start out as hopeful and as they continue turn more melancholy, as Walton begins to feel more alone and out of sorts. He realizes that he is very alone, and even claims to Margaret that he “greatly [needs] a friend” who would understand him and his fancies, rather than just the crewmen that he has found himself surrounded by (6). It is in this mindset that he meets Victor Frankenstein, though originally he does not know who his new companion is. Such is my belief that delving into Frankenstein’s story with the lens of Walton on will show how different circumstances and scenarios would be changed, or viewed in a different light.
To start, the first major event that Victor lights upon which Walton would also identify with is the telling of how Elizabeth came to join Victor’s family. In Walton’s letters to Margaret a deep love is evident, and seeing such a connection between Victor and Elizabeth would spark another sense of camaraderie felt by Walton, fixing more deeply in Walton’s mind that he and Victor are kindred spirits. Walton sees this in Victor’s saying that Elizabeth was his “more than sister,” (27) which Walton can relate to as he addresses all of his letters to his dear sister, and in one such letter says, “Heaven shower down blessings on you, and save me, that I may again and again testify my gratitude for all your love and kindness” (5). Here Walton clearly shows his own love for his sister, which allows him to connect more deeply with Victor.
Walton’s identifying with Victor would cloud his judgment or taint his opinion about Victor I presume. As Victor discusses his early life and his thirst for knowledge and books Walton can again relate to his own life and how he spent so much time devoting himself to maps in his uncle’s library. So when Victor sets out on his quest for knowledge Walton again sees himself in Victor and rejoices in these similarities. Next come some difficult parts, here which I believe the lens of Walton will show very different things that I saw reading the text in my own voice. When Victor finishes his creation and abandons his monster I viewed as cruel and a way of avoiding a situation in hopes of having it remedy itself. Here Walton would disagree with me and again align himself with Victor, allowing that achieving his goal after toiling for months and months at it and finding it horrific, indeed not what Victor wanted at all, it would be reasonable to avoid the issue until one saw in his soul the strength with which to face the problem at hand. Walton’s views on this I took from when he asks “How can I see so noble a creature destroyed by misery, without feeling the most poignant grief?” stating that his relationship with Victor was so strong that he felt his own moods affected rather strongly by this newfound companion (16). Indeed, I believe Walton so desperately craves the friend he lacks that he supposes more from his relationship with Victor that is really there, and therefore laments at seeing Victor in pain.
I believe that after viewing the text through a lens different from my own has opened up the novel and the characters in it to me in ways which before I could not comprehend. By using Walton’s sympathetic lens I have seen Victor in a more positive light, and although his choices were different from ones I might make in similar situations, my own view of my character is so vastly different from the way I view Victor’s that this is to be expected. I am able to more fully grasp that Victor may not be as deplorable a character as I originally find him because of Walton’s ability to see good in this creature who was so despicable to me. Walton’s views on Victor may not be exactly as I have imagined them, but they are certainly different from my own and worth looking into.