Transgression in The Handmaid’s Tale

Hey! We’ve had a few emails over the holiday period, asking some really thought provoking questions. One that I thought was especially interesting came from Alybaa, who wants to know more about the theme of transgression in The Handmaid’s Tale. This is quite a big talking point for Frankenstein, but what about when it comes to comparing? Here goes…

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Comparing Frankenstein and The Handmaid’s Tale

When I first started studying these texts, I was honestly bemused. What does a monster made of human remains have to do with a dystopian theocracy? Quite a lot, it turns out.

We’ve had a few emails from other students, asking if we can help them compare these two seemingly very different texts. I’ve decided that since this is such a widespread question (and rightly so!) I’d put together a few ideas to help you get started. Largely, I’ll be framing this post as questions which you can ask yourself when you revising, perhaps in mindmaps or bullet lists. This is a new way of organising a post, but I hope that it will be helpful!

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Alternative Critical Interpretations of A Streetcar Named Desire


One of the Assessment Objectives for A Streetcar Named Desire in the AS Drama and Poetry exam is AO5 – alternative critical interpretations. This AO does not exist for A Streetcar Named Desire in the A2 Drama exam but it can still count as AO3 (context). The following is a list of critics and critical perspectives that I have collected over the last year. While it is not necessary to know the names of specific critics or perspectives, it is helpful — but I know it is easy to forget, so you can replace their names with stock phrases, such as “Critics say…” or “Some have interpreted this as…”.

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Good Luck for Poetry & Drama!

Just a quick post from us at blogasenglish to wish everyone taking the Poetry & Drama exam tomorrow morning the very best of luck! Everyone has worked sooo hard and as long as you pick the question you feel most confident with, think carefully about the poem you will choose to compare and put in many alternative Streetcar opinions (as well as all the other correct AOs), you will do amazingly! Feel free to ask anymore questions and we’ll do our best to answer before we head off to bed before the big day 🙂

Ella, Beth & Hadiyah


Sample Essay – Nature and Freedom

ESSAY – Nature and freedom


Here is a sample essay I wrote on how the question…

Compare the methods both poets use to explore the universal theme of nature and freedom in The Furthest Distances I’ve travelled and one other poem

I decided to write about the poems ‘The Furthest Distances I’ve Travelled’ and ‘History’. Feel free to use as exemplar material.

My only target was to be a little more succinct. “Comprehensive analysis with effective comparisons throughout. Also, interesting choice of 2nd poem”

By Ella

Essay Tips – Drama Structure

Here is a simple outline of the structure that I try to follow when writing my essays. It  is not necessarily the best way to write, there are many other effective ways, so don’t think that if you don’t like this structure or have a preferred way of organising an essay that it is not correct.

Remember to include AO1, AO2, AO3 and AO5 in every paragraph.

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A Streetcar Named Desire – Critical Opinions

Image © The Guardian

In the exam, you will be marked on AO5 (Explore the ways different people (including critical thought) react to, and interpret texts.)

You will need to include some sense of debate in your essay but offering different interpretations of the same point, it could be a separate paragraph or within the same paragraph. You can do this by either, offering a different opinion “However, in a differing opinion, it could be suggested…” or you can use critics opinions to aid what you are saying. You can also discuss how the characters have been interpreted differently in stage and film adaptations of the play. For this exam, it doesn’t matter if you don’t include the critic’s name, but make sure you re using it to illustrate a point and not just throwing it in for the sake of it!

Here are some critical opinions we have looked at in class, of course don’t try and remember all of them, but gather a selection that you can use in your essay if appropriate.

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