Travel in Frankenstein

Within the pages of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, leisure travel is not overtly mentioned. But if you read closely you can find one character who was able to experience life outside the borders of his birthplace in a leisurely fashion. That character was Henry Clerval.

Clervall was Victor's lifelong friend and, at times, his life saver during the darkest moments of Victor's torments. It was Clerval who accompanied Victor on an extended journey through England after the Creature had commanded Victor to create a suitable life-compainion for him.

Though Victor, and as a result the novel itself, was preoccupied with this command, Cleval's delight in travel and education shone through brightly.

The two traveled to England and weaved their way up to the lands of the Scots.

A West View of London with the Bridge, taken from Somersert Gardens. Published according to Act of Parliament. Printed for & Sold by Robert Sayer at the Golden Buck opposite Fetter Lane, Fleet Street. [n.d., 1750]

Their first stop was in London where Shelley writes,

"Clerval desired the intercourse of the men of genius and talent who flourished at this time."


Then after spending about 4 four month in the city, the two friends moved on to Edinburgh. They did not take the typical route (the Royal Mile) but chose to visit Windsor, Oxford, Matlock, and the Cumberland lakes.

Mary Shelley writes, "The delight of Clerval was proportion ably greater than Victors; his mind expanded in the company of men of talent, and he found in his own nature greater capacities and resources than he could have imagined himself to have possessed while he associated with his inferiors."

Windsor Castle, from Eton. W. Westall. A.R.A. del.t R.G.Reeve sculpture. Published 1828


Clerval is the closest example of a Grand Tourist within the pages of Frankenstein. He exemplifies all the typical traits of the young men who embarked on a lengthy tour which are - wealthy, intelligent, young, and carefree.

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Copyright 2002: History 257 - Mount Holyoke College
This page was created by
Lee Haviland.