28 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2016
    1. I am going to unexplored regions, to "the land of mist and snow," but I shall kill no albatross; therefore do not be alarmed for my safety or if I should come back to you as worn and woeful as the "Ancient Mariner."

      Here, Walton makes a direct reference to poetry and quotes Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." This further solidifies Walton's lack of formal education and shows his knowledge of poetry, instead.

    2. "That is also my victim!" he exclaimed. "In his murder my crimes are consummated; the miserable series of my being is wound to its close! Oh, Frankenstein! Generous and self-devoted being! What does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying all thou lovedst. Alas! He is cold, he cannot answer me.

      Without Walton's letters acting as a framing device, this scene would not have been possible. Walton's framing allows us to feel sympathy for the Creature. As stated earlier, if the story were told from Victor's point of view, the story would characterize the Creature as a monster. Victor is never able to see the Creature admit his guilt for destroying Victor and his family. Therefore, Walton is important to give truth to the story and show the Creature for who he really is: someone who is lonely and remorseful.

    3. I am surrounded by mountains of ice which admit of no escape and threaten every moment to crush my vessel. The brave fellows whom I have persuaded to be my companions look towards me for aid, but I have none to bestow

      Here, Walton seems to fully be accepting the danger that he has put his crew in. It becomes clear that Walton doesn't know what he is doing and he cannot help his crew. He got caught up in his books and thought that he could accomplish this journey, much like how Victor got caught up in his alchemy books and thought that he could create life. However, Walton must face the consequences of putting his crew in danger, as Victor faced the fact that he put his family in danger. Both also ultimately put themselves in danger.

    4. "When younger," said he, "I believed myself destined for some great enterprise.

      Earlier in the novel, in Walton's first set of letters, he says something very similar. Walton states, "And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been passed in ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path." This shows that Walton and Victor are similar in the sense that both believed that they were destined for something greater.

    5. His tale is connected and told with an appearance of the simplest truth, yet I own to you that the letters of Felix and Safie, which he showed me, and the apparition of the monster seen from our ship, brought to me a greater conviction of the truth of his narrative than his asseverations, however earnest and connected.

      Britton says that "sympathy determine's the novel's frame structure... As the frames open... each shift in both perspective and genre is simultaneous with an experience of sympathy." Walton frames the sympathy for Victor, who frames the sympathy for the Creature, who frames the sympathy for Safie's story. As Walton states here, this story is told with "an appearance of the simplest truth." As each character frames another character's story, we are able to see each story as being true. Without this framing device, the story would be told from one person's perspective and it would have been biased. This story naturally would have been told from Victor's perspective and he would have painted the Creature to be a monster. However, Walton frames everyone's stories and allows us to see the truth. As Britton states, "As those frames close, and as the text returns to its outermost level and original epistolary form, the impossibility of sympathy silences each voice and concludes each frame."

      Britton, Jeanne M. “Novelistic Sympathy in Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein.’” Studies in Romanticism, vol. 48, no. 1, 2009, pp. 3–22. www.jstor.org/stable/25602177.

    6. Strange and harrowing must be his story, frightful the storm which embraced the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it—thus!

      As scholar Jeanne M. Britton points out, thus far, Walton has been the "letter-writer and first-person narrator." Walton accepts Victor onto his ship and feels an immediate sympathy for him, and as stated earlier, Walton seems to find a much-needed friendship in Victor. As Victor begins his story, the novel switches to his perspective. We then hear the Creature's story and within that narrative, we also hear Safie's story. Britton says, "The process by which the monster can identify with Safie and, in the act of transcribing her letters, adopt her voice marks the limit of the simultaneous experience of sympathy and shift in perspective that allows Walton to speak for Frankenstein and Frankenstein to speak for his creature. But by generating this transcription of letters, the desire for a sympathetic experience that seems within reach also produces a physical document that attests to both the truth of the monster's tale and the narrative and novelistic functions that sympathy performs." Walton's letters frame the whole novel, but Victor's narration also frames the Creature's story, which frames Safie's story. Each of these frames gives us a new story and gives us a complete picture of the characters in this novel. If the story were told from one point of view, there would be no truth to the story, as it would be completely biased. Walton is our unbiased framing device.

      Britton, Jeanne M. “Novelistic Sympathy in Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein.’” Studies in Romanticism, vol. 48, no. 1, 2009, pp. 3–22. www.jstor.org/stable/25602177.

    7. I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend. I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans. How would such a friend repair the faults of your poor brother!

      Here, Walton is expresses his loneliness by saying that communicating through paper is not enough. He wishes that he had a friend who could "sympathize" with him. He wants someone with similar tastes and someone who is "cultivated as well as of a capacious mind." OED defines "capacious" as "able to hold much; roomy, spacious, wide." Walton wants a companion who shares his ideologies and is of the same mind. He seems to be saying that he is all of these things, "gentle yet courageous," "cultivated," and has a "capacious mind." Therefore, he wants someone like him whom he can talk to. This becomes important when Victor boards the ship and the two become friends. Victor seems to be everything that Walton has wanted. Therefore, Walton seems to be foreshadowing the fact that he and Victor resemble each other. He so desperately wants an educated friend to share his thoughts with, and he gets this in Victor. The fact that Walton sees Victor of being worthy of being a friend suggests that Victor does indeed have these qualities and that Walton sees him as "cultivated." OED defines "cultivated" as "of a person or society: improved by education or training; refined." Only someone with Walton's background of having a neglected formal education would find Victor to be "cultivated."

    8. my intention is to hire a ship there, which can easily be done by paying the insurance for the owner, and to engage as many sailors as I think necessary among those who are accustomed to the whale-fishing.

      Here, Walton may be accepting that he doesn't actually know what he is doing. He needs to hire a ship and sailors, all of whom will hopefully know what they are doing more than Walton. Walton seems to accept that he might not be successful in this journey and that "If [he] fail[s], [his sister] will see [him] again soon, or never."

    9. Now I am twenty-eight and am in reality more illiterate than many schoolboys of fifteen

      Walton acknowledges that his formal education has been neglected and that he is "more illiterate than many schoolboys," but this doesn't seem to deter him from his journey. He seems to think that reading the books from his uncle's library is enough to teach him how to man a ship and find the Northern Passage. However, it later becomes clear that he was perhaps just reading poetry and that this will not be enough for him to complete this journey. Poetry does not give you the knowledge that you need to complete a journey like this. Walton's poetry resembles Victor's alchemy books that seem to encourage him to attempt to create life. Both characters seem to be reading fiction and accepting it as truth.

    10. and my familiarity with them increased that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my father's dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark in a seafaring life.

      Walton seems to be using this journey to find the Northern Passage as a way to make up for a lost childhood of sorts. He spent his childhood reading about these voyages from his uncle's library and feels "regret" that his father had forbidden him from "embark[ing] in a seafaring life." Earlier in this letter, he also states that he will "commence this laborious voyage with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat." Walton doesn't seem to be accepting the dangers of this journey and is simply fulfilling a childhood dream of his. Beck also attributes these quotes to Walton's immaturity.He also states that Walton resembles Victor because, "in their 'scientific' explorations, they are both driven by the same kind of prelapsarian (Miltonic) fantasy and by the same kind of absolutionist utopian desire: to start afresh from a point in time before the Fall, to find a shortcut out of history and thus to become benefactors of mankind." Victor does this by trying to create life, while Walton fails "to create a permanent Paradise of his own by literary means," and instead decides to embark on this journey and attempt to return to his childhood innocence.

      Beck, Rudolf. “‘The Region of Beauty and Delight’: Walton's Polar Fantasies in Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein.’” Keats-Shelley Journal, vol. 49, 2000, pp. 24–29. www.jstor.org/stable/30213044.

    11. I also became a poet and for one year lived in a paradise of my own creation

      In his article "‘The Region of Beauty and Delight’: Walton's Polar Fantasies in Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein,’” Beck characterizes Walton as being someone with a "boyish immaturity," with the desire to "(re-)enter Paradise" and live as a poet again. Beck points out that Walton's formal education was neglected and that he turned to books as a source of knowledge. This included books of poetry and suggests that Walton's idea of the real world has been altered by the books he has read. As stated in an earlier annotations, Beck suggests that Walton's image of the North Pole comes from Milton's Paradise Lost. Therefore, it doesn't seem as if Walton completely has a hold of reality. Much like Victor, he seems to be slipping, as far as education goes. Victor held his alchemy books dearly to be the truth and Walton seems to be doing the same for books of poetry. Books seem to give people their paradise, or even their reality, in this novel.

      Beck, Rudolf. “‘The Region of Beauty and Delight’: Walton's Polar Fantasies in Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein.’” Keats-Shelley Journal, vol. 49, 2000, pp. 24–29. www.jstor.org/stable/30213044.

    12. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?

      Scholar Rudolf Beck attributes Walton's imagined North Pole to be a reference to Milton's "Paradise Lost." He says, "There can hardly be any doubt that Walton's vision of a 'country of eternal light,' and even more specifically, his idea of a permanently visible sun with its 'broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour,' corresponds directly to Milton's special-case 'prelapsarian astronomy." Beck attributes this to Walton's lack of a formal education. Walton seems to have learned much of what he has learned on his own from books. This relates him to both Victor and the Creature. Victor studied alchemy on his own, which gave him the "knowledge" he needed to create life. However, the Creature actually reads "Paradise Lost" in the novel and this is where he gets his ideas about a creator and needing a partner in life. All of these characters seem to be doing their own "research" and learning which may lead to their downfall.

      Beck, Rudolf. “‘The Region of Beauty and Delight’: Walton's Polar Fantasies in Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein.’” Keats-Shelley Journal, vol. 49, 2000, pp. 24–29. www.jstor.org/stable/30213044.

  2. Nov 2016
    1. I have hired a vessel and am occupied in collecting my sailors

      The word choice of "collecting" sailors is reminiscent of Victor's "collecting" of parts to create his creature.

    2. And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been passed in ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path.

      Walton believes that he deserves to achieve his goals of finding the northern passage. He feels as though he has worked hard and put aside "ease and luxury" and that he deserves success. Although he may have put in the hard work, that does not guarantee his success. This feels similar to Victor believing that he had put in the hard work throughout his studies and he should be able to create life and achieve success. Both of these two characters have ambitious goals and are unable to carry them out.

    3. I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole. You may remember that a history of all the voyages made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good Uncle Thomas' library. My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were my study day and night,

      Walton's only knowledge of these voyages come from reading. This is similar to Victor who learned about alchemy from studying books on his own. It seems that these two have a lot in common in the ways that they learn and the way that they occupy their time. Walton has read about people trying to find the northern passage and this is what convinces him that he can take this journey, which ultimately puts him and his crew at risk. Victor reads about alchemy on his own and gets the idea that he can create life, which puts him and his family at risk.

    4. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is forever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour

      It appears that Walton has been warned that the journey to find the northern passage will be treacherous and he has been told that the pole is"the seat of frost and desolation," but Walton holds on hope that there will be "beauty and delight." The sun is "forever visible" because there is 24-hour sunlight during a couple of weeks in December in Antarctica. Walton wants his journey to be successful and chooses not to listen to the warnings of how treacherous it will be. This is similar to Victor not listening to his professors about the dangers of studying alchemy. If Victor had listened, maybe he wouldn't have tried to create life. Similarly, if Walton had listened to the warnings of how dangerous his trip would be, he wouldn't have put his crew in danger. But then we wouldn't have Victor's story because Walton wouldn't be there to rescue him from the water.

    5. These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven, for nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose

      Walton finds relief in his journey because he has a "steady purpose." This seems similar to Victor's purpose in studying alchemy and going to school and creating life. Victor finds "peace" in his study as he keeps his mind busy. It is not until he actual gives the creature life that he sees how it was a mistake. Similarly, Walton believes that his journey will be successful and he is at peace as long as he is working on finding the passage. It is not until his men grow weak and tired that he decides to give up for them. Walton's framing helps to explain what Victor goes through later in the novel.

  3. Oct 2016
    1. and in after years, 142When these wild ecstasies shall be matured 143Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind 144Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, 145Thy memory be as a dwelling-place 146For all sweet sounds and harmonies

      Wordsworth is saying that through time, our memories mature and become a "sober pleasure," which suggests that during the present, moments are lively, fleeting, and hard to capture at the time. It takes years for these memories to develop into these sober pleasures for us to look back and see things clearly. Then, your mind becomes a "mansion" for these memories. These memories then keep us grounded, and the speaker says that if is friend is stricken with "solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief," that she will always be able to remember him with "tender joy." We use our memories to heal and get through times of pain.

    2. My dear, dear Friend, and in thy voice I catch 121The language of my former heart, and read 122My former pleasures in the shooting lights 123Of thy wild eyes.

      These lines relate to the passage of time and catching up with an old friend who holds "former pleasures" of the speaker. The speaker looks at this friend and sees all of their memories together in her eyes. We can never go back to things of the past, but when we reunite with people of our past, we see in them an old version of ourselves that we can never get back - "May I behold in thee what I was once."

      This is also the first time that a second character is mentioned in the poem. That is, if you don't consider the Wye River to be its own living entity, as stated in an above annoation.

    3. O sylvan Wye!

      Image of Tintern Abbey and the Wye River

      According to the OED, "sylvan" means "One who (or something that) inhabits a wood or forest; a being of the woods."

      This word seems to suggest that the river is more than just a river - it seems to be living in some way. The speaker also calls the river a "wanderer through the woods," which also makes the river come alive. This makes the river seem like an old friend that the speaker's spirit keeps coming back to. In this poem, the river seems more important than the abbey, which gets barely any recognition. This poem seems to be more about nature and the human spirit.

    4. corporeal

      According to the OED, this word means "Of the nature of the animal body as opposed to the spirit; physical; bodily; mortal."

      This phrasing of "corporeal frame" to describe a human body, seems to suggest that your body is something which holds you back, until you are "laid asleep / In body, and become a living soul." This says that only our bodies die, or are "laid asleep," while our soul continues to live on. Our bodies are simply a cavity to hold our soul until we die, and only then does our soul become "living."

    5. unremembered pleasure

      The choice to use the word "unremembered" here seems to be important and indicative of something so fleeting and insignificant, that the speaker didn't even remember these feelings. He doesn't say that these are "feelings too / Of forgotten pleasure," because this would suggest that were remembered in the first place, and that over time, they were forgotten. The fact that feelings were "unremembered" seems to show that they "had no trivial influence" on the man's life.

    6. Five years have passed; five summers, with the length 2Of five long winters!

      Here, Wordsworth is clearly stating that "Five years have passed" since he has been back to this spot, but these years seem to have passed slowly "with the length / Of five long winters!" Winter always seems to pass longer than summer. Summer is fleeting, while winter seems to drag on and never end. Wordsworth is playing with this idea of how time seems to pass slowly and his summers away from Tintern Abbey have felt like winters, because they have been so long. This goes with the idea that time passes fast when you're enjoying your time, but when you are away from something, time seems to slow down.

  4. Sep 2016
    1. O joy! that in our embers130               Is something that doth live,131               That Nature yet remembers132What was so fugitive!

      In line 58, the speaker says that "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting," which seems to suggest the idea of reincarnation. This is the idea that when we are born, we forget our past life. Lines 129-132 seem to be playing off that same idea. These lines seem to suggest that there is something deep within us, "our embers," which remember the fleeting years passed. So although we grow up and think that we may forget things, there is something inside of us that "Nature yet remembers." It seems to reassure the speaker that he is able to hold onto memories, even though it may be a subconscious thing that he isn't aware of. It still seems to give him joy that these things, perhaps the innocence of childhood, and not forgotten by Nature.

      It may also be worth nothing that our book has all of these lines indented. The book also glosses "fugitive" to mean "fleeting."

    2. The Pansy at my feet

      According to aboutflowers.com, a pansy represents "loving thoughts." This is important to the poem because the "adult" speaker of the poem is asking "Where is it now, the glory and the dream?" It seems as though the speaker is reflecting on things that he has lost through growing up. Perhaps he is saying that as we grow up, we lose these "loving thoughts" and forget what it means to young and dream.

    1. And biddest me walk humbly with my God.

      The question that Coleridge asks in the previous stanza is a dangerous question that his wife rejects with "a mild reproof." He uses this last stanza to complete the frame structure of the poem. The previous stanza implies that we are all on the same level of God. God acts upon us through the "intellectual breeze" and sweeps through every living thing. This makes everyone equal, even animals to humans, and seems to suggest that we may be equals with God if he is sweeping through us. Therefore, he uses this last stanza as a chance to state that he must "walk humbly" with God. He needs to reassure his reader, and wife, that he sees himself as humble in the eye of God.

    2. intellectual breeze,

      Coleridge questions if there is an "intellectual breeze" which sweeps through all of us - "all of animated nature." He is questioning if there is something which binds all of us together. This speaks to Blake's "poetic genius" from "All Religions are One." Blake's poem states that there is a poetic genius which binds everyone together and makes religion, despite different cultures. This is similar to what Coleridge is talking about. An intellectual breeze which binds every living thing together at once. We are simply "organic harps" which get played by the wind. In other words, we are all acted upon by the intellectual breeze of God.

    1. zenith

      Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the point of the sky directly overhead; the highest point of the celestial sphere as viewed from any particular place; the upper pole of the horizon."