In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza is the daughter of an Italian nobleman, adopted by Frankenstein’s mother. Growing up together, Frankenstein and Elizabeth fall in love and intend to marry. As a child, Elizabeth is described as beautiful like an angel:
Her hair was the brightest living gold, and despite the poverty of her clothing, seemed to set a crown of distinction on her head. Her brow was clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless, and her lips and the moulding of her face so expressive of sensibility and sweetness that none could behold her without looking on her as of a distinct species, a being heaven-sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features. (p. 36)
She remains beautiful as an adult – and her innocent appearance is contrasted with the grisly sight of her dead body:
She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down, and her pale and distorted features half covered by her hair. Every where I turn I see the same figure – her bloodless arms and relaxed form flung by the murderer on its bridal bier. (p. 199)
This description also shows one of Elizabeth’s key characteristics: She is a passive victim of the creature and of Frankenstein’s neglect. Although she remains a strong and steady figure at home (caring for Frankenstein’s father and visiting the unjustly accused Justine), she does not press Frankenstein for an explanation of his behavior.
She is also willing to release him from their engagement if he wants, though she still loves him (pp. 191-192). Sh...