Frankenstein and The Handmaid's Tale Comparisons

PROSE COMPARISONS:

 

Both novels function as cautionary talesagainst:

-       abuse of science/power

-       dangers of apathy

-       dichotomous readings [favour of multiplicity = endings of both texts]

-       any form of extremity 

 

PARENTAL FIGURES:

Frankenstein:Victor is blessed with a fantastic upbringing and an excellent paternal role model, yet he fails to live up to Alphonse’s reputation and abandons the Creature at birth

The Handmaid’s Tale:Offred remains apathetic and fails to appreciate or reciprocate her mother’s efforts by moving the feminism movement forward

FAMILY:

Frankenstein:Whilst Victor makes a conscious choice to isolate himself away from his family, for the Creature, having a family is only ever a possibility which fails to materialise 

The Handmaid’s Tale:Offred’s estrangement from her family is out of her own control but rather enforced by Gilead – however, it could be argued that [like Victor] Offred’s own choices contribute to this loss, especially her apathy and nonchalance 

FEMALE COMPLICITY

Frankenstein:Caroline is submissive to the patriarchal expectations placed upon women, and perpetuates such ideals through her daughter Elizabeth

The Handmaid’s Tale:The Aunts are complicit in the abuse and degeneration of the handmaids in return for personal privileges. Equally, Serena Joy partakes in the mistreatment of other women when she digs her rings into Offred during the first Ceremony. However, her female complicity in the sexual violation of Offred stems from her own unhappiness. 

BIRTH:

Frankenstein:Victor bypasses the female reproductive function in order to render birth a strictly masculine/scientific experience 

The Handmaid’s Tale:Gilead completely removes all scientific intervention from birth in order to render it a strictly female/natural experience 

 

LIFE AND DEATH

Frankenstein:Victor blurs the boundaries between life and death by grave-robbing and bestowing life upon dead matter  

The Handmaid’s Tale:Gilead draws an inextricable connection between life and death, as the punishment for failing to pro-create is death

 

COURAGE:

Frankenstein:Elizabeth defies the expectations of women through her courageous decision to speak out in defence of Justine 

The Handmaid’s Tale:Ofglen exhibits tremendous courage when she defiantly puts an alleged ****** out of his misery to prevent him from suffering a pain-staking death

 

IDENTITY:

Frankenstein:The Creature develops an extreme self-loathing of his appearance, for his aesthetic defects become massively restricting to his identity. Equally, it could be argued that the Creature is never given a proper identity, for the only impression he internalises of himself is that vocalised by other people

The Handmaid’s Tale:After her body becomes the property of Gilead, Offred develops feelings of estrangement and alienation within her own skin – she is merely reduced to her biological function which diminishes her identity as a woman. Nevertheless, although Offred’s superficial identity is overridden by patronymics, she still holds the knowledge her true name [unlike the Creature]

****:

Frankenstein:Whilst both Walton and Victor possess a strong desire to metaphorically penetrate the secrets of Mother Nature, there is a possibility that Elizabeth is physically *****…

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