Compare and contrast essays are used in literature and writing classes as a means to compare two distinct subjects.
Posted: September 26th, 2022
Compare and contrast essays are used in literature and writing classes as a means to compare two distinct subjects. The objective of this essay is to explain the differences and similarities between two subjects or three specific points, with examples from that subject.
There are numerous ways in which you can approach your compare/contrast essay. When deciding on how you will approach your essays, it is important to keep in mind the purpose, which is to provide an analysis of elements contained within each subject being discussed. For example: if you are comparing a poem about love to another poem also about love, make sure that you include thematic elements (such as true love vs self-centered love) so that your reader can draw their own conclusions regarding how these themes are represented throughout the poems.
For example: Poem X is about a woman who has lost her husband and how sad she is without him. She goes on to describe the flowers he used to pick for her and talks about how amazing their love was, etc… Compare this to a poem written by another poet who has also experienced the loss of a loved one. Perhaps in this second poem there isn’t as much talk about “the good times” but there are more references to nature or perhaps even heaven as a place where they have been reunited. The point of comparison here is that both poets have experienced loss and it makes sense therefore that in their writing they will emphasize different things about what they miss most from their relationship. In your essay you could go into depth about how both poets approach the subject of loss but you could also discuss what they have to say about other aspects we humans are not so fond of – suicide, abandonment, etc…
While it may seem like a daunting task to select two different subjects/ themes and provide examples from each one in an essay that is only supposed to be 3 pages long, when coming up with your thesis statement it is important to remember that this is NOT going to be a comparison paragraph. This will be more of just a teaser for the reader to keep reading. For example: “Through good times and bad times love can still stay strong as demonstrated by two poems written by two different authors.” You don’t want to give away too much information or else audience members can be less likely to continue reading.
7 main points on contrast and compare essays
1. Go In Depth
When it comes to discussing the differences between two subjects, you should try to provide your audience with as much information as possible. This involves explaining, providing examples from each subject/theme in general and then perhaps several examples for each individual theme – love, conflict, etc… You can help aid your reader by using transitions that will connect ideas from one paragraph to another and also give them a better understanding of why the author is making certain connections or emphasizing certain points.
2. Use Sub-Themes
Sometimes when trying to compare two subjects their themes are so closely related that they can’t be discussed separately without being very redundant. For example, A poem about war vs a poem about a battle in a war both have to do with conflict. One way to still make a valid comparison is by including aspects of each subject that are different yet related – for example, if you were comparing the two poems, one could discuss how the tone in which they are written are different but then also analyze how the authors use similar devices such as personification or symbolism in order to paint a better picture and get their point across more successfully.
3. Organize Your Paragraphs
Once you have decided on what points you want to emphasize it will be easier to organize your essay accordingly. Decide if you want to compare just 2 subjects or 3, or maybe even 4? It is important not to choose too many topics because doing so can leave your reader confused about what exactly you are trying to say. The best way is to come up with a good thesis statement and then see if it can be broken down into natural parts in which your audience can dissect each idea separately. If you find that one subject is too complex for only 3 pages (which will most likely happen when discussing one very large topic such as “love”) you can always use the other sub-topics to form an entirely new essay on a similar topic e.g.: Love vs Lust
4. Offer Your Opinion
There is no better way to show your audience how well-read you are than by giving them your own perspective about the two subjects/ themes being discussed. Even though this may seem like something different from what they were expecting this will actually boost their interest because they will see that you know your stuff and are not just another student trying to get by on the teacher’s expectations.
5. Avoid Conclusions
This is probably the most common mistake made by students who try to write a compare and contrast essay: trying to make conclusions that can sometimes be entirely irrelevant or not even supported by any of the examples given in the essay. This will be very confusing for both reader and writer so whenever possible it is best to avoid drawing any concrete conclusions until the end if at all possible. This does not mean that you also cannot analyze what you have written when comparing two subjects/ themes, however, do not offer any false impressions about what one subject says or implies about the other. The purpose is to leave the reader with a better understanding of both or all subjects/ themes being discussed.
6. Illustrate Your Thesis
The most important part about writing any type of essay is to make sure you are understood by your audience and that they can relate to what you have written. One way to show that you are an experienced writer is by providing examples from one subject and then using it as a basis for comparison with another – be careful not to shift focus. It will also help if you place some additional examples in parentheses because this will cause your readers’ eyes to go back and forth between text, which in turn makes them more likely to remember everything you have said. If done correctly, you might even find yourself adding some additional information that you did not have a chance to mention in your initial thesis.
7. Refine Your Grammar and Spelling
It is common knowledge that you should make the most of your word count by being concise and efficient with every sentence but this also means that proper grammar and spelling are essential for your essay to be taken seriously. Teachers will always assume that you put more effort into your essay if there are no errors so do not leave anything out on purpose – in today’s world spell-checker is an easy way to go but try not to rely on it too much because no good writer ever was (or ever will be) perfect 100% of the time. You can always go back later and give yourself a second look-over if necessary.
In conclusion, a good compare and contrast essay is an effortless way to teach your readers (and perhaps even yourself) about two subjects/ themes through the use of examples. Make sure not to jump back and forth between them and also try not to concentrate too much on one subject since this will make for a very boring essay that no one will want to read. When in doubt, always choose 3 main topics that you can easily discuss within the word count given to you by your teacher – this way you have more time to elaborate on each point without having to worry about running out of space.
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