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the tenderest compassion

In the see-saw effect of her characterization of Victor, Mary Shelley returns to the side of his character that Walton finds most attractive. In an existential void himself, one created as much by his own chosen withdrawal from social obligations as by the pressure of catastrophic events, Victor is still able to sympathize with the plight of Walton and his crew and to offer encouragement to their hopes. Perhaps what would most easily explain this sympathetic posture, though it would not justify the optimism he expresses to them, is Victor's own deep sense of helplessness before an implacable force.