VCE comparative essay prompts: The Queen vs. Ransom

Looking for practice comparative essay prompts for Stephen Frears’ The Queen and David Malouf’s Ransom? Here are some practice prompts to help you prepare for the text response essay!

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  • Explore the necessity of change in Frears’ The Queen and Malouf’s Ransom.
  • The power of hope to bring change is limitless. Compare the way the two texts explore this idea.
  • “Look, he wants to shout, I am still here, but the I is different.” (Ransom). Compare the way the two texts explore the idea that people can change.
  • Ransom is a novel about hope in times of unrelenting anguish, whereas in The Queen, hope is irrelevant in times of tragedy. Discuss.
  • “People really DO want change. And want YOU to give it to them.” (The Queen) In Ransom and The Queen, resistance to change is shown to be detrimental. Discuss.
  • Compare the ways in which characters in The Queen and Ransom try to deal with the consequences of change.
  • “Something’s happened. There’s been a change, a shift in values.” (The Queen) / “He will get used to the unaccustomed. It is what he is after” (Ransom) Compare how the two texts portray tradition and innovation.
  • “The opportunity to act for ourselves. To try something that might force events into a different course.” (Ransom) Compare the ways The Queen and Ransom explore opportunities for change. 


  • Within The Queen and Ransom, the role of the advisor is one that is undervalued and underestimated. To what extent do you agree?
  • Compare the ways in which The Queen and Ransom explore the value of trusted confidant.


  • “How has he got hold of such a notion? It contradicts everything they have ever known of this grave and cautious figure who is their father.” (Ransom) Discuss the presence of duality in the characters of both texts.
  • Both The Queen and Ransom show that the demands of leadership and the demands of family are incompatible. Discuss.
  • “That’s the way we do things in this country. Quietly. With dignity. It’s what the rest of the world has always admired us for.” (The Queen) / “I sit still and fill a space towards which others may look in reverence.” (Ransom)  
  • Compare what The Queen and Ransom say about facing situations for which there is not precedent.
  • “I believed that’s what people wanted from their Queen. Not to make a fuss… duty first, self second.” (The Queen) / “I’ve played my part, and tried to let nothing peep out of the real man inside so much empty shining” (Ransom) Compare how the gap between public and private selves is presented in the two texts.
  • In order to lead successfully one sometimes has to follow. Do you agree?
  • Compare what The Queen and Ransom suggest about stepping outside traditional roles. 
  • Compare the ways in which The Queen and Ransom convey the importance of humility and humanity.

Power of narrative/Legacy

  • “History will show it was a good week for you.” (The Queen) / “He has done something for which he will be remembered for as long as such stories are told.” (Ransom). Compare the way stories are created in these texts.
  • Compare the way in which characters in The Queen and Ransom work to create a legacy.

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