The novel Frankenstein touches on many controversial ideas, knowledge as threat, secrecy of Victor about monster, rejection, abortion, that captivate the readers with its fascinating narrative. One of the important concepts that is touched over and over again is the passive role of the female characters. Almost all female characters, except for Safie, have passive roles; confused, abandoned, long-waiting, lover Elizabeth, loving, sacrificial mother Caroline Beaufort, wrongly accused Justine, enslaved mother of Safie, passive-listener Margaret Saville.
Mary shelly describes women as dependent on the male characters around them. Their sole purpose is to serve, and obey the demand of their men. Elizabeth is very supportive, and concerned about Victor, and his health. When Victor decides to leave for his studies, Elizabeth does not object, and continues to support and care for him. She patiently waits and waits for Victor to marry him, and the day they get married, she gets killed since she was alone and there was nobody to protect/shelter her.
When Justine was wrongly accused, Victor makes a decision on how to act. While Elizabeth pleads with him, ultimately Victor has the final say, showing where the power lies with their relationship.
The way Victor explains his parents' relationship to Walton, also portrays a very passive, nourishing, mother who is incapable of taking care of herself so that Victor's father "came as a protecting spirit to the poor girl, who committed herself to his care." The relationship between his parents also points out the passiveness and dependence of women.
In the case of Justine, when the creature, intelligently, murders William Frankenstein, everyone accuses her. Innocent Justine just happens to be the victim of circumstantial factors. Both Justine and Elizabeth - who stands up for Justine - are completely helpless to prove her innocence; nobody believes or makes an effort to further investigate, and as a result execute her.
Sister of Robert Walton, Mrs. Saville, is significant not only because she is the addressee of the letters describing Victor's story, but she also is an illustration of another passive women. Margaret Saville passively listens to the worries, concerns of his brother without replying or indicating her own opinions.
Another example of selfless, self-scarifying woman is Agatha. She is the daughter of De Lacey, caring for her brother and her father, her father even with their poverty and her own sadness.
The only women in the novel that is depicted as independent, active, following her heart, pursuing her desires was Safie, the daughter of the Turk.