Walton’s Letters

The novel starts with a series of letters written by a character, Walton. It is through this series of letters that we are introduced to several themes in the novel, and also to one of our leading men, Victor.

This is achieved in the form of a frame narrative. 

A framing narrative contains a second narrative, or embedded narrative, in order to provide a context or setting for it. Sometimes this framing narrative will begin and end the narrative as a whole, providing book ends, while other times the framing narrative will simply be present in the beginning of the narrative. The framing narrative “sets the scene” for the embedded narrative, giving us a context in which we can read and interpret the text. (The International Society for the Study of Narrative)

Re-read Walton’s letters and decide:

  1. Where is he? What is the motivation for his journey? What does he expect to find? (L1)
  2. His history? What do we learn about his past? (L1)
  3. In this letter to his sister, what does Walton say he longs for? Why do you think Walton feels lonely even though he is on board a ship with a full crew? (L2)
  4. How does Walton respond to the stranger? Why do you think Walton is attracted to the stranger? (L4)
  5. Why does the stranger burst into ‘violence’ on page 27?

Annotate pages 26 – 27 from lines “My affection for my guest increases everyday” to “… dash the cup from your lips”.


At this point, it is worth investigating the context in which the novel was written. The text is considered a gothic novel written in the Romantic period.

Define these two terms. You should be able to recount several features of Romantic art including:

  • Characteristics or its attention/gaze
  • Movements it reacted against or rejected
Skim this text to develop your understanding.

Image: ‘Free vintage handwritten letter texture for layers

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