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Explore Frankenstein and Henry Clerval as foils to each

other - what point is Shelley making about human


existence and identity?

Shelley shows how we are defined by what we are, but more importantly
we are defined by what we are not, and what we are no longer.

HENRY CLERVAL VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN

REGRET OF PAST KNOWLEDGE


DESIRE FOR KNOWLEDGE PURSUITS

"But in Clerval I saw the image of my "Every thought that was devoted to it was
former self; he was inquisitive, and an extreme anguish, and every word that I
anxious gain experience and spoke in allusion to it caused my lips to
instruction."(115) quiver, and my heart to palpitate."(115)

INVOLVEMENT WITH SOCIETY SELF-ISOLATION


"Clerval desired the "I must absent myself
intercourse of the men of
from all I loved while
genius and talent who
flourished at this time;" thus employed." (Shelley
(Shelley 114) 110)

WILL TO LIVE LACK OF WILL TO LIVE

"'This is what it is to live,' "In truth, I was occupied by gloomy


thoughts, and neither saw the descent
he cried; 'Now I enjoy
of the evening star, nor the golden
existence!'"(112) sunrise."(112)

ANALYSIS

Shelley wrote Henry Clerval as a foil to Victor to be the contrast, deepening


Victor's sin. Henry is presented as this work of good, and more importantly
greater than Victor. He expressed qualities of opposites shows a clear boundary
of good and very, very bad through subtext. Henry is presented as this fairly
optimistic man, enjoying every one of his adventures with Victor. He shows
things like appreciation for life and nature, active inspiration and he is a social
man; All are things that Victor has ceased to be as he becomes more
"Frankenstein" than he is "Victor." It widens the boundary, showing how much
better Clerval is than Frankenstein, and how far Frankenstein has fallen. Through
Henry's character traits in relation to Victor's Shelley is showing us how we are
defined by not only what we are, but also what we are not. At the same time,
Henry functions as a sort of rearview mirror to Victor, retaining the traits he grew
to lose with his experiences with the monster. Shelley uses Henry to remind the
reader what Victor once was, and how much his actions have changed him; And
as we define Clerval as his past and Frankenstein as his present, we see how we
grow into different people over time. Shelley shows us that in a way, our identity
is never truly set and stays fluid, open to change and influence. These influences
shape what we are and what we aren't throughout a lifetime.