This analysis is based on Letter 2 in Frankenstein (Penguin Classics).
R. Walton starts his letter by telling his sister about the progress that he has made with his ship and his crew. Even though he tries to set a more positive mood, there is a feeling of loneliness. It appeals to the reader’s sense of pathos. He says, “I have no friend, Margaret”, meaning he has no one to share his success and failures with. The feeling of satisfaction he gets from being successful is brief.
Psychology says that humans are social animals and that they seek people who are similar to them. The character wants someone who has similar tastes to him. He says, “I have no one near me, gentle and courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as a capaciuos mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans”. He is describing his character in someone else. Because he has a sense of exulanasis, he gives up trying to explain how he feels to his sister. He feels as if committing words to paper is a “poor medium for the communication of the feeling”.
In his letter, he gently describes his lieutenant, whom he has great admiration. This man lives a life of existential means as he has traits that are not situational of heavily influenced by his surrounding. He has made his own path despite being “wholly uneducated”.
His letter becomes more similar to the speech of the modern motivation speaker. Despite his loneliness and sadness, he does is not “wavering in” his “resolution”.
He makes reference to the poem The Rime of the “Ancient Mariner”, which shows that he is enthusiastic about acquiring knowledge and wisdom from his travels. It is a romanticised view of getting old. He believes he is meant for more. He has a sense of alexithymia, which is the inability to express or define how he feels.
The closing of his letter gives a tone of wistfulness and sadness. He missed his sister. However, he has stoically accepted that he may never see her again. In addition to that, he seems to be preparing her for the worst to happen.
This essay is an analysis of Letter 1 which is a letter written by R. Walton. Whom, for now, is a stranger to me.
The letter starts on a positive mood. It sets a tone of enthusiasm, hope and determinism. It is an odyssey, where he describes his travels to his sister. The positive tone may be to reassure her that everything is going well and that she should not worry. The character describes “cold northern breeze” which gives him a feeling of “delight”. This imagery gives emphasis about his excitement since cold weather is usually associated with depression.
The character has found inspiration and a new outlook on life. He mentions that “nothing contributes so much to tranquillise the mind as a steady purpose”. The phrase reminds me of what macroeconomics teaches us. How the people who have been unemployed for a long time fall into a deep depression because they have no sense of purpose. The letter becomes a form of inspiration in this case. It shows how having a new perspective and motivation can positively affect a person.
As the letter continues, we recognise a form of rebellion in the character. He does the opposite of his father’s wishes when he embarks on his voyage. His “father’s dying injunction had forbidden” his uncle “to allow” him “to embark in a seafaring life”. Moreover, the character displays an undeniable form of curiosity. He shows this by showing a pursuit of knowledge that seems unparalleled. He learns everything, maths, science, medicine. There is also a longing for recognition. In the letter, we see that he wants to “obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated”. He is ambitious.
The character also shows a stoic outlook. He says, to his sister, “If I succeed, many, many months, perhaps years, will pass before you and I meet. If I fail, you will see me again soon, or never”. He is content to take risks even if he does not know the outcome of this.
Letter 1 of Frankenstein offers a lot of insight into life. After a lot of scrutiny, it is even relatable. We have a lot to learn from R. Walton.