Frankenstein

by: Mary Shelley

Five Key Questions

Summary Five Key Questions

5) Why does Walton turn the ship around?

Walton turns his ship around because he feels responsible for his crew. Walton is motivated by the same ambition that motivates Frankenstein to create the Monster: “My life might have been passed in ease and luxury; but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path.” Walton doesn’t seem to learn from Frankenstein’s story that ambition is dangerous, even though Frankenstein warns him repeatedly. Nevertheless, Walton decides that he must abandon his goal, because he cannot endanger his crew against their wishes: “I cannot lead them unwillingly to danger.” The most important difference between Frankenstein and Walton is that Frankenstein prioritizes his ambition above his responsibility to other people, while Walton does not. Walton’s concern about others also ensures his own survival. Walton’s final decision therefore confirms the essential importance of companionship and loving relationships in the novel.