Contents Index

I shut my eyes involuntarily

These two sentences encapsulate a highly complex aesthetic and moral act. It is against his will that Walton closes his eyes; yet with eyes closed he occupies an essentially different space from that in which he first viewed the Creature a second before. He has unwittingly placed himself in the position of the elder DeLacey, who is the only stranger not to have rejected the Creature at first sight (2.7.7). DeLacey's blindness and Walton's closed eyes remove from their judgments the beautiful as a determining aesthetic criterion. With its absence each is able to act on what purports to be an objective moral plane, or at least not to have pre-determined aesthetic categories prejudice their responses. Paradoxically, an act that is reflexive and therefore deterministic in its inception becomes the means by which unexamined, normative standards of behavior, which are truly deterministic in their impulse, can be transcended, allowing an exercise of free will. Since Walton is not actually blind, his act in its ethical import is unique for the novel.