Frankenstein: The Cost of Greatness

Essay by eclipsegstHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2005

download word file, 2 pages 3.0

In Mary Shelly's novel Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus, she portrays two characters that share the same characteristics and personalities. These two characters are Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein. Each character has dreams of greatness and a plan to bring it about. Yet, the visions, thoughts, and actions of both men follow similar patterns. Both Frankenstein and Walton undertake a journey to greatness but at what cost? Sometimes single-minded focus requires a higher price than one can pay.

According to Patricia Neal, "...well-educated men chose to explore the unknown and expand mankind's knowledge of the universe" (Neal 2). Robert Walton has this desire for knowledge and a thirst for the unknown. In Walton's letters he tells his sister that he hopes to help humanity and to be well-known someday by finding a passage through the North Pole that would cut travel time considerably. He travels north through the thick ice to search for a passage across the North Pole.

Victor Frankenstein shares this desire for knowledge as well. He shows this through his diligent study at the University of Ingostadt. Frankenstein also goes seeking his own way in the unknown by envisioning and creating a living creature. His hope mirrors that of Walton in that he also wants to help humanity and be well known by ending death through his work with the creature.

Both Frankenstein and Walton experience bitter loneliness. Walton states in his letters that he is lonely and in need of a friend, which is due to the demands of his chosen path to fame. "To be friendless is indeed to be unfortunate" (p. 121). Frankenstein is lonely because the focus of his work, the creature, has directly or indirectly killed most of his family: "...misery had her dwelling in my heart, but I no longer...