Henry Clerval

Function in the novel

Henry Clerval functions in the novel as:

  • the good and faithful friend, another member of the supportive circle from Frankenstein's childhood
  • like other members of that circle, he is ultimately powerless to save Victor from himself.

Comparison with other characters

Like Captain Walton and Victor himself, Henry is eager in his pursuit of knowledge. However:

  • his studies are more humanistic – classical and oriental languages
  • he is also better able to balance study and scholarship with other aspects of life.

Effect on Victor

When he is in Henry's company, Victor:

  • is temporarily distracted from his scientific concerns
  • lives a more balanced life
  • participates more fully in a social world.

This is particularly true during Victor and Henry's first extended period of companionship, described in Volume 1, Chapter 5, and rather less so when they visit England and Scotland in Volume 3, Chapters 1 and 2. On the first occasion, however, their brief idyll is interrupted by the news of William's murder, while in the second case Victor leaves Henry in order to fulfil his undertaking to create a mate for the monster.

Causes of death

When Henry summons his friend to resume their travels, Frankenstein dismantles his laboratory and destroys his second creation. It is soon after this that Henry's body is discovered and Victor is accused of his murder.

  • Henry's death is Victor's punishment for failing to keep his promise
  • like everyone else in Frankenstein's immediate circle, Henry is doomed to be destroyed by his friend's own creation.
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