Contents Index


Honour is a concept that, until now, has figured only modestly in this novel. One earlier reference, however, might be construed to have a bearing on Walton's present insistence on its claims. This comes in Elizabeth's letter of commiseration to Victor about his illness while in Ingolstadt. There she testified to her accord with Ernest's desire to be a farmer, though it were a less "honourable occupation" (1.5.2) than that of a judge. In her letter the idea of honour is tied to social and class hierarchies, perhaps as well to distinctions between gender roles. It is clear that in Walton's eyes his crew are, to return to Victor's formulation (Walton 7), lesser men than they would be if they were possessed of a sense of honorable duty to the cause to which their master has committed them.