In Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, families are a very important part of the structure of the novel. Frankenstein's family is critical because the reason why the monster was created lies within the family. Almost every family mentioned in the novel was either incomplete or was dysfunctional. Frankenstein's family in particular was missing a female role. The Frankenstein family had no mother, but they did have Elizabeth who was the only other female in the house and she was adopted when she was just a child. The monster was created because of this absence, not necessarily to fill the role of the mother, but to fill in the role of the missing family member. However, the monster is shunned away when he is animated and the fall of the Frankenstein family awaits them. .
Victor Frankenstein's family was normal to begin with. He had a mother and a father, but later on when Elizabeth becomes sick with a fever, his mother nurses her back to health at the cost of her own life. On her deathbed, Victor's mom says, "Elizabeth, my love, you must supply my place to my younger children. Alas! I regret that I am taken from you; and, happy and beloved as I have been, is it not hard . . . a hope of meeting you in another world" (42). Elizabeth is expected to fill in as the role of the mother by taking care of and protecting the young children. Although she replaces the role of the mother, there is still the fact that a family member is missing. A mother is impossible to replace; you can't have a stepmother because she will never be a replacement for an original mother. Nor can a mother be bought, but Victor uses his knowledge from Ingolstadt to create a being to fill in that missing figure. .
In the later part of the novel, the monster stumbles upon a family where he learns the basics of living and surviving. The monster is very intelligent and can learn at a exceedingly rapid rate. The family that he crosses is the De Lacey family.