What do you sense from Victor’s homage to Henry near the end of chapter 18 in Frankenstein?

One might sense from Victor’s homage to Henry near the end of chapter 18 that Mary Shelley is setting up a contrast between Henry and Victor’s relationship and the relationship between Victor, the monster, and the monster’s potential companion. One might also sense that Victor’s homage to Henry highlights Victor’s shortcomings.

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Near the end of chapter 18, VictorFrankenstein lets out a “gush of sorrow” over his dear friend Henry Clerval. Ostensibly self-deprecating, Victor says his words are “ineffectual” and amount to only a “slight tribute to the unexampled worth of Henry.”

Victor’s homage to Henry arrives after the monster ...

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Near the end of chapter 18, Victor Frankenstein lets out a “gush of sorrow” over his dear friend Henry Clerval. Ostensibly self-deprecating, Victor says his words are “ineffectual” and amount to only a “slight tribute to the unexampled worth of Henry.”

Victor’s homage to Henry arrives after the monster asks Victor to make him a friend. One might sense that the monster’s request for a companion in chapter 17 compelled Victor to think extensively about his closest companion in chapter 18. The homage to Henry creates a contrast. The destructive relationship between Victor and the monster (and the monster and his potential female friend) juxtaposes the caring, loving relationship between Victor and Henry. In chapter 5, as Victor suffers from a “nervous fever,” Henry looks after him like a nurse. Victor shows his appreciation for Henry with lavish praise.

Additionally, one might sense that Victor’s homage to Henry draws attention to Victor’s faults. The tribute to Henry’s noble character indirectly demonstrates Victor’s nefarious deeds. Henry’s sensible heart, “ardent affections,” and love of nature contrast with Victor’s lethal ambitions and disregard for nature. Victor’s aim to “learn the hidden laws of nature” arguably caused him to construct the monster and, thus, violate the laws of nature. Here, the homage highlights two divergent lives: the upstanding life of Henry and the underhanded life of Victor.

Mary Shelley might also have included the homage at the end of chapter 18 to increase the power of Henry’s death. The effusive tribute helps explain why Victor reacts so dramatically to his friend’s murder.

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