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What subject does Henry Clerval take at the university?Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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english248 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 7, 2012 at 8:35 AM via web

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What subject does Henry Clerval take at the university?

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 7, 2012 at 10:38 AM (Answer #1)

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Unlike his friend Victor Frankenstein, who is consumed with learning all that he can of the physical world, studying under Monsieur Krempe the great philosophers after having studied the ancient teachers of science that Krempe declares have promised little, Henry Clerval has come to the university to become "complete master of the oriental languages" in order to be able to begin "his plan of life." Rather than invent life,in his "spirit of enterprise," Henry desires to understand life. Among the languages that intrigue Henry are Persian, Arabic, and Sanscrit. The writings of the Persian and Arabic people, Victor declares, is very different from the heroical poetry of Greece and Rome.

Henry is interested in the humanities, not the sciences as is Victor. He enjoys traversing the countryside and taking in the beautiful scenery.  Of Henry, Victor recalls,

...Clerval called forth the better feelings of my heart; he agains taught me to love the aspect of nature, and the cheerful faces of children.

Ironically, when Victor accompanies Henry in his nature walks, Victor expresses his delight in nature: 

A serene sky and verdant fields filled me with ecstasy.  The present season was ideed divine....My own spirits were high, and I bounded along with feelings of unbridled joy and hilarity.

Clearly, author Mary Shelley, a Romanticist, points to the healing and intuitive powers of Nature as even Victor Frankenstein is moved by it. Thus, at the end of Chapter 6, there is foreshadowing that Victor's obsession with unnatural pursuits will be detrimental.

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