In your life as a student, you’re going to write different types of assignments. Each paper will have its own unique requirements and even writing styles. One of those that you will encounter is the comparison and contrasting essays. These types of essays are the best to write as they will not limit you when it comes to creativity. However, they do require you to research and analyze the ways how characters, ideas or two things are similar and different from one another.
In short, what your professor or lecturer is asking you in these essays is to go beyond mere summary and instead engage in critical thinking to gain a deeper understanding of the subjects your comparing. You also need to understand how characters relate to each other and what makes them unique. Writing an essay about one subject is hard enough and takes time, but when it comes to two topics where do you even begin? No worries, we got you covered. Here is a detailed guideline on how to write a great compare and contrast essays that will give you academic excellence.
What Is Compare and Contrast Essay? Definition and Writing Guide
This essay is about expressing your thoughts on contradictive issues. The trick to writing this type of paper is to draw a parallel between two characters, issues or objects. Depending on the course, your professor might ask you to compare two theories, characters in a novel, scientific methods and even two historical eras. However, this academic paper is not just about listing differences and similarities. You also have to support your findings without bias using evidence.
Step by Step Guide on How to Write Compare and Contrast Essay
As a student, no matter which course you are undertaking, there is a high chance that your lecturer will ask you to write a comparison analysis paper. To write this assignment follow the below step by step guideline.
- Conduct research and come up with a good topic
When reading the course material or when listening to your lecturer teach about that particular subject, you’re likely to come across a topic that fascinates you. It’s best to choose a topic of interest as it will make it easier for you to write and make the whole process fun. From your topic choose two ideas or characters that you can easily compare and contrast — for example, generation X vs. generation Y.
- Brainstorm ideas
Now that you know your topic, the next step is to brainstorm and come up with similarities and differences between the two objects. Create two lists: one with differences between the two subjects and another with similarities. You can even use a table or a Venn diagram.
- Create your main argument
A compare and contrast paper is more than just listing similarities and differences. Instead, the differences and similarities should point you to the main argument. Reading the list and what it says about the topic will lead to the main argument.
- Write an outline
Now that you know what you’re going to write about, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to express your points. Decide on a structure and create an outline which will include an introduction, followed by the body and conclusion. Remember, to help your reader keep track of what you’re saying use words like in comparison to, similar to, on the other hand, and on the contrary.
How to Start a Compare and Contrast Essay That Will Impress Your Teacher
Just from the start, a reader will decide whether your essay is worth their attention. The start of an essay should clearly set the tone and show the reader what you will compare and contrast. It should also give a brief review of the topic to help a reader better understand it and have an intriguing thesis statement.
The most important start of a great essay is a hook. The hook sentence should give a hint of what the topic is about and what the reader should expect from the rest of the paragraphs. Remember, the sentence should be interesting and engaging. It can be an interesting fact, a bold claim, personal experience that the reader can relate to or a provoking question.
The Professional Way on How to Structure a Compare and Contrast Essay
Compare and contrast essay structure follows the standard format for all academic papers: it starts with an introduction, followed by the main body and finally the conclusion. However, a good compare and contrast essay will either have a point by point structure or block structure.
- Point by point structure
With this structure, the writer will start by first giving the differences and similarities of one concept and do the same for the other concept. This structure is ideal for long essays as the differences and similarities between the two subjects are explained next to each other. It also keeps the assignment organized and gives room for the writer to cover more information.
- Block structure
Block structure is ideal for shorter essays. In this structure, the writer will give all the information concerning one concept being compared and contrasted in the first half of the paper and present the concept about the other subject afterwards. For example, in the block structure, you will have an introduction, followed by the first half of the essay where you will give all the information about object A.
You will then include a transition section, followed by the second half of the paper where you will address object B and lastly a concluding paragraph. The transition paragraph is what differentiates the first half and the second half of the paper and helps the reader to differentiate between the two concepts.
Importance of Compare and Contrast Essay Introduction Paragraph
Capture the attention of your readers in the first few sentences of the introduction, and they will be intrigued enough to read through the whole paper. An introduction is important because it establishes credibility and prepares the teacher for the paper content. The best way to use this paragraph is to highlight your knowledge of the topic by giving a preview of the main points and providing a structure on how the paper will flow.
How to Write a Catchy Compare and Contrast Essay Conclusion
While a conclusion is the last part of an essay and most students tend to put less effort into it, it’s worth investing time in. Just like your introduction, the conclusion has an influence on your reader’s experience as it helps you make a final last impression. The best way to write a contrast essay conclusion is to emphasize the thesis statement.
Also, give a brief summary of the similarities and differences. Avoid repeating the same words you used in your paper. Instead, synthesize the information in a way that shows the reader how your main points, examples, and evidence you’ve given fit together. Don’t forget to propose a solution to an issue related to the paper or course of action. Additionally, avoid using words such as in conclusion, in closing or in summary as they are often overused in essays hence deemed unnecessary.
Compare and Contrast Essay Example
Comparative Analysis of “Allegory of the Cave” and “What Is Our Life?”
The objective of the paper is to discuss and to comparatively analyze two literary works namely the “Allegory of the Cave” written by Plato and “What is Our Life?” written by Sir Walter Ralegh. The two literary works explore the meanings of life in different perspectives.
The Allegory of the Cave by Plato is a philosophical expression of the meaning of life and the meaning of human existence in the world. It can be summarized as a view on how human beings draw meanings of life from the different factors that can be perceived in the physical world. There is a huge challenge presented by Plato in the said work that is to find the real meaning of life. This can be attributed to the fact that people are often presented by situations that mask the truth in life. For that matter, the facts that are perceived to be true are in reality just shadows on the wall of the cave. The only reason why human beings are blinded from the true existence of things outside the cave is because every factor in the perceived reality are built in a consistent and interconnected manner that satisfy inquisitive nature (Plato 2-9).
The work of Sir Walter Ralegh entitled What is Our Life? as the other literary work also explored the question regarding life. Ralegh was a descriptive representation of life in metaphor. Every concise line described a distinct aspect in the life of human beings. In the said literary work, life is compared to a play on stage with the different factors equivalent to the different issues in life such as the music, the venue, the costume, the spectators, and the interaction of the different actors (Ralegh).
There are similarities and differences between the two literary works. In terms of the structure, the Allegory of the Cave is a prose of free form while the work of Ralegh is structured and measured. In terms of length, the two works also differs. Plato’s work is comparatively longer and more explorative in terms of the different meanings of the concepts of the cave presented. On the other hand, Ralegh’s work is more concise and is shorter. In terms of the meaning, it might be a common notion that Ralegh’s work would be vaguer and would need deeper understanding but Plato’s work regardless of the long exploration and discussion included in the work can be considered to have a faire share of vagueness and mystery based on the issue presented. Another important similarity of the two literary works is the element of interest that can be invoked to the readers due to the fact that both needed critical thinking and in depth analysis to be able to be understood and even to explore the concept regarding life that had been presented.
The two works, the “Allegory of the Cave” by Plato and “What is Our Life?” by Sir Walter Ralegh can then be considered as two literary works worthy of study and understanding due to the important perspectives presented regarding the meanings of life in different perspectives.
Plato. Allegory of the Cave. Class Notes, p.2-9.
Ralegh, Walter. What Is Our Life?. Class Notes.
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