In Mary Shelley's time and with the Romantics, friendship between men was considered the highest form of love since it was purely spiritual and took no part in carnal love. In Chapter 2, Victor mentions that he took no interest in his "schoolfellows" with the exception of one boy with whom he "united...in the bonds of the closest friendship to one among them": Henry Clerval, who is the son of a merchant of Geneva. Henry is a creative young man who has his friend enact plays of knights and enchanted forests, the Round Table of King Arthur and the "chivalrous train." While Henry wishes to occupy himself "with the moral relations of things," Victor is preoccupied with natural philosophy and, later, mathematics and science.
Before Victor departs for the University of Ingolstadt, he spends some time with Henry, whose father has not permitted him to attend the school.
His father was a narrow-minded trader, and saw idleness and ruin in the aspirations and ambition of his son. Henry deeply felt the misfortune of being debarred from a liberal education. (Ch.3)
Henry's father feel that his son should be interested in trade and commerce, but the imaginative Henry has a "firm resolve not to be chained to the miserable details of commerce.