Why do you suppose having Henry Clerval as a friend didn't help Victor Frankenstein think more about morals, ethics, and the meaning of life?

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Michael Otis | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Henry Clerval is Victor Frankenstein's friend in childhood, confrere at the University of Ingolstadt, nurse following the 'birth' of the creature, and travelling companion through Europe until brutally murdered. In short, Clerval was Frankenstein's lifelong friend and helpmate. Why then was he not able to mitigate the doctor's hubris? The answer can be found in Mary Shelley's narrative intention to create counterparts to Victor Frankenstein. The creature, hybrid child of an impudent science, is one. Henry Clerval is another. Shelley intended Clerval, like the creature, to be an alternate persona to Frankenstein. Like him, Clerval seeks intellectual enlightenment, but unlike the doctor he is not a transgressor, never violating the laws of nature and humanity. It is essential to Shelley's design of the novel that the reader see in both Clerval and the creature shadows of the man Frankenstein might have been, but never was.   


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