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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Frankenstein – Context

Image © The National Theatre

As we have said before, you won’t be able to get into the higher bands on the mark scheme if you do not include context (AO3). We already have a post on context for The Handmaid’s Tale, made by Beth, so be sure to have a look at both this one and that one to ensure you have context for both texts throughout your essays. There is a lot here, so try to get at familiar with a lot of it, you will know most of it anyway, but there be more sophisticated context that you can use here 🙂

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Pearson Example Essays – PROSE

Image © Bigstock

When it comes to writing essays, it can be really hard to know how to structure them because you cannot keep the style from GCSE, it’s just not complex and sophisticated enough. You may also not know how to write a great introduction or conclusion!

You may have noticed that there are a couple of A grade sample essays that we have been set by our teacher and put up on this blog to help you. But we know that not everyone is aiming for or will be able to write at A grade so Edexcel has provided a document with example essays which were awarded various grades/levels, which not enough students know about.

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Impact of Science on Relationships and Intimacy

We were asked to help on the following question by izzyjuly7…

Compare the ways in which the writers of your two chosen texts present the impact of science on relationships and intimacy.

So we must consider the science and relationships within both Frankenstein and The Handmaid’s Tale.

The definition of science, “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws:

the mathematical sciences/systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation”

The creation of Frankenstein’s monster is plainly the science in the novel, the act of galvanising a dead body. It affects many relationships and intimacy within as well…

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The Sublime – Frankenstein

How is the sublime presented by Shelley in ‘Frankenstein’? (MINI ESSAY) 

Throughout the novel of Frankenstein, Shelley presents the major gothic theme of ‘the sublime’ – that describes something both greater in size and stature of which natural beauty and power is almost impossible to comprehend for the human mind – as  a concept that inspires and alleviates the soul of both Victor and the reader. Through powerful, sensory imagery, Shelley is able to explicitly illustrate the feeling of numinosity that Frankenstein experiences. Furthermore, the generic context that surrounds the idea of the sublime, helps to place the novel amongst the works of second generation romanticists such as Byron, Percy Shelley and John Keats. This aids the reader to understand why this concept was so important in the late 18th century, because it shows the new way of thinking and appreciation of the raw natural world, after the contrasting period of industrialisation. We also learn that the sublime can be terrifying due to the lack of control that humans have over it, however instead of being argued that the sublime is dangerous, one looks at this point of view that the overwhelming nature of it actually helps both Victor and the reader to put their lives into perspective and alleviates their soul.

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Death of Clerval – Frankenstein

This post is an in depth look at Clerval’s death in Frankenstein and his significance in the novel as a whole.

Characterisation of Clerval, earlier in the novel

“he loved enterprise, hardship, and even danger for its own sake. He was read deeply read in books of chivalry and romance. He composed heroic songs, and began to write many a tale of enchantment and knightly adventure”

“he might not have been so perfectly humane, so thoughtful in his generosity – so full of kindness and tenderness amidst his passion for adventurous exploit”

“Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval”

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Impact of Scientific Research – Frankenstein

ESSAY – Scientific Research


Although in the real exam, the question will ask you to compare both of your chosen texts (for us, Frankenstein and The Handmaid’s Tale), we were just concentrating on Frankenstein in this essay. However it should help a lot for Frankenstein.

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

Explore the ways in which Shelley presents the impact of scientific research in Volume 1 of Frankenstein (36 marks)



Crafting The Narrative – The Handmaid’s Tale

ESSAY – Mock Re-Draft


Although in the real exam, the question will ask you to compare both of your chosen texts (for us, Frankenstein and The Handmaid’s Tale), we hadn’t finished studying Frankenstein when we wrote this essay. However it should help a lot for The Handmaid’s Tale.

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

Explore the way the writer of your chosen text (The Handmaid’s Tale) crafts the narrative in order to make the text relatable to the reader (36 marks)