Describe a minor character in Frankenstein who acts as a foil to a major character.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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"Deeply read in books of chivalry and romance," Henry Clerval, boyhood friend of Victor Frankenstein, acts as a foil to the man whose "inquiries were directed to the metaphysical."  While Henry reads of the "heroes of Roncesvalles" and of the Round Table of King Arthur and his knights, Victor reads Cornelius Agrippa, Albertus Magnus, and Paracelsus. 

When Victor abandons his creation, Clerval, the faithful friend, fortuitously appears and nurses Victor back to health. Always Henry is constant in his friendship for Victor, unlike Victor who vacillates in his feelings towards his creature, at first agreeing to make him a mate, and then refusing. Then, in Chapter 18 as Victor and Clerval travel together beginning at Strasburgh and moving along the Rhine River, Clerval delights in nature while Victor is "haunted by a curse that shut up every avenue to enjoyment." 

A "gentle and lovely divinely wrought" is Victor's description of his friend, Henry Clerval, a friend whose death he has caused.  Bereft of this friend, Victor Frankenstein loses his moral judgment, for Henry acts as Mary Shelley's voice that it is intuition and communication with nature that support man, not scientific determinations. 


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