It can be argued that for a novel written by the daughter of an important feminist, Frankenstein is strikingly devoid of strong female characters. The novel is littered with passive women who suffer calmly and then expire; for example Caroline Beaufort is a self-sacrificing mother who dies taking care of her adopted daughter.

An initial reading of Frankenstein might give the reader the impression that Shelley had very little to say about the position of women, as most of the women in the novel have very little to say themselves. The females are securely fixed within the domestic realm, performing their duties as mothers, sisters, wives and daughters without the slightest murmur of discontent or any discussion of the inequalities that shape their lives. Caroline Frankenstein moves from being the perfect daughter - nursing her father until his death - to being the perfect wife and mother; but it can easily be argued that this is scarcely a move at all, as in all these roles from the beginning she remains the embodiment of the idealised female - beautiful, modest, nurturing, gentle, selfless and sexless. In much the same way Elizabeth Lavenza is the ideal sister, cousin and future wife, and Justine Moritz the faithful, loving servant.