Frankenstein Study Questions (Letters 1-4)

Who is writing Letter 1 (and all the letters)? Robert Walton
To whom is he writing? What is their relationship? Mrs. Saville, his sister
Where is Robert Walton when he writes Letter 1? Why is he there? What are his plans? St. Petersburg, Russia. He is hiring a crew for his ship. He intends to sail to the North Pole and discover magnetism.
What does Robert Walton tell us about himself? He is passionately committed to discovery and adventure. He wishes he had a friend with the same sensibilities and he says he is self-taught.
Where is Walton now? What do you think of Walton’s question “What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man”? Walton is out to sea, sailing north. The quotation establishes the Romantic idea of the power of emotion over reason.
How much time has elapsed between Letter 3 and Letter 4? What “strange accident” has happened to the sailors? One month has lapsed. The accident is the ship is trapped in ice and fog.
Why does the man picked up by the ship say he is there? What shape is he in? The man says he is “seek[ing] one who fled from me” (11) and he asks which direction the ship is sailing. He is near death, weak and emaciated.
What sort of person does he seem to be? How does Walton respond to this man? The man remains silent and this creates a sense of mystery around him. Walton finds the man eloquent, educated and refined.
How much time has elapsed when Walton begins writing again? What has happened in the meantime? How does the man respond to Walton’s project? How is Walton responding to the man? Walton begins writing the biography of Victor the very next day. Victor has slowly regained his health. Victor tells Walton that the quest for knowledge and his project will ultimately lead to his misery. Walton is intrigued and wants to hear Victor’s story.

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