Although he appears arrogant in the first letter and sees himself as a god like figure, for example Walton says ‘l shall confer on all mankind’ and ‘elevates me to heaven’, he is supposed to be a man of science but is seeing himself as a godly figure. His arrogance is seen often through the first letter as is his tendency to see himself as better than others, placing himself on a pedestal, ‘I imagined that I might also obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated. Because he sees himself as being superior to others, the readers perceive him as being arrogant and unworthy of any sort of emotion a reader may feel towards the character as of his manor and tone towards himself. Walton has had many other dreams, such as becoming a poet or a playwright have not worked out for him, therefore he makes sure this vision is a success. Walton is thrilled that he will satisfy an ‘ardent curiosity’ by setting foot on a part of the world never visited by man, he is extremely proud of himself and knows what an achievement he is making which once again brings up his arrogance.
He also says ‘l voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst and want of sleep’ its almost as if he sees himself doing it for humanity not for himself which he is doing it for. He worries that he will have no friends on the trip that will be able to sustain his disappointment should his dream not work out, ‘l am required not only to raise the spirits of others but sometimes to sustain my own, when theirs are failing. He is self-analyzing himself which makes the reader feel sorry for him because the reader would feel as if all his arrogance and almost self-pity has come from his disbelief in himself and what he can do. He does not connect with the other man, although he is fond of his lieutenant and the ships master. He is nevertheless extremely excited for his Rooney and to find this new exotic land which no man has found before.
Towards the last letter, Walton comes across a straight thing happening in the middle of the ocean, on the sheets of ice, they spy a sleigh being pulled across by dogs with a large figure driving the figure appears abnormally sized and they become confused as to what they have seen. He disappears, leaving the entire crew in wonder. The next day another sleigh appears at the side of the ship. Walton meets the man on the sleigh who is completely frozen and fatigued. This time however it is a regular sized human, someone who is not f gigantic structure.
They begin to spend time together and as their friendship grows, Walton finds the companion that he has been wanting. Walton has an extreme fondness towards this stranger, who later turns out to be Victor Frankincense, Walton says in his letter ‘he is so gentle yet so wise; his mind is so cultivated’, it makes the reader feel as if Walton has finally found someone who can relate to him and share his intelligence, before he even properly meets him Walton notices ‘he was not as the other traveler seemed to be a savage inhabitant of some undiscovered island but a
European’ he already makes that connection with him. He becomes infatuated with Victor almost as if he is in love with him, and is fascinated by Victor and all he is been through and all he knows, it could be a parallel for what Walton will be like in the future after he has passed the stage of being arrogant and viewing himself higher than everyone else, which may be a parallel to Victor in his younger life.
We know that Victor is going to be the narrator of the story and that Walton, substituting for all readers, will be the audience to whom he speaks. Shelley is setting up a number of themes in this story; there is Wallow’s intense desire for discovery and the unknown, which parallels the intense desire for the unknown which led him to making something which he later regretted. Although, Wallow’s life at Sea moulds him along the lines of the epic hero, who did a lot to save lives and discover certain things.
Words such as ‘glorious’ and ‘magnificent’ are used to describe the mission Walton is on. He is consumed by his need to be immortal by doing what has never been done before, he feels like he is destined to omelet this dangerous journey. Victor likens Wallow’s curiosity to drinking from a poisonous cup. Victor believes that the quest for new knowledge can lead to self-destruction. Exploration of the physical world serves as a metaphor for intellectual inquiry and discovery.
Exploration is portrayed as dangerous and threatening to life, rather than as something simply good and uplifting for humanity. There is a general fear that certain knowledge may be too extensive or dangerous. Wallow’s undertaking of this journey is a comment upon the larger society as well as upon his character; it is the outside world that is constantly urging its members to leap tall boundaries, that they might gain recognition and fame. Wallow’s values are definitely questionable.
It does not seem that he really belongs on this mission, with such little experience and knowledge of the wider world, but he refuses to let his dream go, like Victor once did yet he has already experienced the consequences of playing with things that should just be left as they are. He is highly motivated and in his prime, a younger version of Victor, who had the same ideas but has now relinquished them. Walton complains of not having errs to whom he can relate this illustrates the most basic human need of companionship.