September 25, 2015

How to Write a Comparative Essay – Be Careful

How to Write a Comparative Essay – Be Careful
Remember those comparison/contrast essays you wrote in high school? Sometimes you wrote ones that only compared two things; sometimes you wrote ones that only contrasted two things; and sometimes you wrote essays that included both comparisons and contrasts.

When you are assigned comparative essays in college, however, the terminology of the assignment itself is really important, because there are really two types. You need to be certain that you understand the assignment before you begin to choose a topic and produce an essay.

  1. If you are to write just a comparative essay, you will be addressing those things that two or more people, things, events, beliefs, or other ideas have in common. For example, how are the democratic systems in England and India alike? Or, how are Macbeth and Brutus, two characters from to different Shakespearian plays, alike?
  2. If you are to write a comparative analysis essay, however, the common definition of such an essay is that you will address both similarities and differences – like the comparison/contrast essay you wrote in high school

Understanding the difference between these two types will be your first step in figuring out how to write a comparative essay that will meet the requirements of your instructor’s assignment.

Organizing Your Essay

If you are only to write an essay on the comparison of people, events, things or ideas, your organizational structure will be pretty basic. Make a list of those similarities, each of which will be addressed in a separate paragraph.

If, however, your essay is a comparative analysis, things are a bit more complex, as you must address both similarities and differences. Your best bet in this case is to make two lists – similarities and differences and then to organize your essay by first assigning a paragraph to each of the similarities and then a paragraph to each of the differences. There are other format, of course, but this is really the easiest, and if you just want to get the thing done, choose this format. If, for example, you were to compare Macbeth and Brutus, you would want to address the facts that they were both highly ambitious, that they were both power-hungry to a fault, and that they were both willing to kill to obtain that power. On the other hand, there were differences. Macbeth was a military hero; Brutus was a politician; Macbeth was strongly influenced by his wife’s ambition; Brutus was driven by only his inner drive. So, your essay will have two sections – paragraphs on similarities followed by paragraphs on differences.

Write an Essay that Will Impress

If you spend a good amount of time thinking about the things you are to compare and/or compare and contrast, and you prepare your lists well, you should have an easy organizational structure. The rest is in the writing. Be certain that you review and edit that rough draft so that it is really polished by the time you turn it in. Remember, a great essay grade is comprised of both what you say and how you say it.

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