This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD.
What is a Comparative Essay – a short definition
Categories: Comparative Essays. Bernice Sangmortey. Learn why people trust wikiHow. There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. Analyze the question or essay prompt carefully.
You may have a great idea for a paper in your head, but if it doesn't perfectly match the prompt, you may not create the product your instructor has asked for. Keep a list of these things by you as you work.
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Also see whether there are any limits placed on your topic. Understand the type of comparison essay you are being asked to write. For these essays, simply pointing out that things are similar or different will not be sufficient. For example: "Choose a particular idea or theme, such as love, beauty, death, or time, and consider how two different Renaissance poets approach this idea. In other words, you will need to make an evaluative or analytical argument about those approaches.
If you're unclear on what the essay prompt is asking you to do, talk with your instructor. It's much better to clarify questions up front than discover you've written the entire essay incorrectly. List similarities and differences between the items you are comparing.
Showing the similarities between the two subjects is the essence of a comparison paper, but you also need to recognize their differences. Making an effective comparison requires that you examine the differences between the subjects, as well. By examining the contrast between your subjects, you can provide valuable insights into how they relate to each other.
The best place to start is to write a list of things that the items you are comparing have in common as well as differences between them.
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Evaluate your list to find your argument. It is likely that you will not be able to write about everything on your list. Read through the list and try to identify a theme or patterns among items that are listed. This can help you decide on the basis of your comparison. After you work through the list, you should have the building blocks of your argument and thesis.
You may want to develop a system such as highlighting different types of similarities in different colors, or use different colours if you are using an electronic device. For example, if you are comparing two novels, you may want to highlight similarities in characters in pink, settings in blue, and themes or messages in green.
Establish the basis for your comparison.
This provides the context for your comparison: how will you examine these two things? Among other things, the basis could be a theoretical approach, such as feminism or multiculturalism; a question or problem that you wish to discover an answer for; or a historical theme, such as colonialism or emancipation. Be sure to check your assignment or prompt. A basis for comparison may have to do with a theme, characteristics, or details about two different things. Keep in mind that comparing 2 things that are too similar makes it hard to write an effective paper.
The goal of a comparison paper is to draw interesting parallels and help the reader realize something interesting about our world. This means your subjects must be different enough to make your argument interesting. Research your subjects of comparison.
Compare a few aspects of each topic instead of trying to cover both topics comprehensively. Research may not be required or appropriate for your particular assignment.
Comparative Analysis Essay Writing Guide
If your comparative essay is not meant to include research, you should avoid including it. A comparative essay about historical events, social issues, or science-related topics are more likely to require research, while a comparison of two works of literature are less likely to require research. Develop a thesis statement. Every essay should be controlled by a clear, concise thesis statement.
Even if your basis for comparison was assigned to you, you need to express in a single sentence why you are comparing the two items. The comparison should reveal something about the nature of the items or their relationship to each other, and your thesis statement should express that argument. It's good for this claim to be a bit controversial or up for interpretation, as this allows you to build a good argument. Outline your comparison. Before you start writing, it is best to plan out your organization strategy. A unique feature of a comparative essay is that you have several different organizational strategies to choose from.
Use a traditional outline form if you would like to, but even a simple list of bulleted points in the order that you plan to present them would help. You can also write down your main points on sticky notes or type them, print them, and then cut them out so that you can arrange and rearrange them before deciding on a final order. Use a mixed paragraphs method. Address both halves of the comparison in each paragraph. This means that the first paragraph will compare the first aspect of each subject, the second will compare the second, and so on, making sure to always address the subjects in the same order.
This method is especially recommended for lengthy essays or complicated subjects where both the writer and reader can easily become lost. Alternate the subjects in each paragraph. Devote every other paragraph to one of the subjects. This means that the first paragraph will compare one aspect of a subject and the second, the same aspect of the other subject; the third paragraph will compare a second aspect of a subject and the fourth, the same aspect of the second subject — and so on, making sure to always address each subject in the same order.
The Comparative Essay | Writing Advice
This method is especially recommended for essays where some depth and detail are required. Cover one subject at a time thoroughly. This means that the first set of body paragraphs is devoted to addressing every aspect of the first subject and the second set, to addressing every aspect of the second subject, making sure to address each aspect in the same order. This method is only recommended for short essays with simplistic subjects that the reader can easily remember as s he goes along.
Write your essay out of order. In many cases, writing your essay from start to finish is harder than writing it out of order. Also, you'll likely find yourself revising the early parts of your essay once you complete the body of the paper. Instead, you can opt to write your sections out of order. You can also go point by point throughout the essay. Craft an outline that fits the structure you have chosen. Traditionally, an essay consists of an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Consider including four body paragraphs instead to give balance to your two subjects.
As you begin to write your essay, back up your assertions with evidence from research, reading, or personal experience. If you are comparing and contrasting cats and dogs, use personal anecdotes about friends and their pets to bolster your arguments. With any information that you include, be sure to explain why it matters in the context of your larger argument. Transitional words give your essay a nice flow from one statement to the next.
Once you have finished, read your essay several times to check spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Make use of spell check and grammar check tools in your word processing program. If possible, get a friend to cast a fresh pair of eyes on it to find mistakes you might have missed. We often have difficulty reading our own work objectively and can miss silly mistakes.
Write your essay's conclusion, which should typically use one to two paragraphs. This makes for a compelling conclusion that will make your reader think. Do not assert relationships between two texts that you cannot clearly back up with textual references. Double-check all direct quotes to avoid plagiarism.
Any words borrowed from another source must appear in quotation marks. Darla Himeles is a freelance writer, editor and poet living in Castine, Maine. The database based on Word Net is a lexical database for the English Language. See disclaimer. A sample thesis statement for your comparison essay might be: "Though Bella, Meyers' female protagonist in 'Twilight,' benefits from centuries of efforts on behalf of women to secure equal rights between the sexes, she is a surprisingly restricted and weak young woman when compared to Shakespeare's Juliet--especially in light of Judith Butler's assertions on culturally constructed gender performance.
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