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How to Write a Comparative Essay

How to Write a Comparative Essay

Author: Joseph Kirby
Description:

If you are a high school student or university student, chances are you will have to write at least one comparative essay during your schooling. English teachers will often have you write a comparative essay to compare and contrast ideas and themes in two different texts.

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Tutorial

Comparative essays have a distinct structure that will help you to get these ideas across clearly. Like a normal essay, you will have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The following scaffold will make writing your essay easy.



Writing Your Essay Introduction

Your Introduction is the begging of your essay. It is the part of your essay that needs to grab your readers' attention and tell them what your essay is going to be about. The following should be included in this order:
• A quick summary or reiteration of the essay question. For example, if your question is asking you to compare and contrast the similarities between text 1 and text 2, you need to make sure your first sentence is stating that this is what you are going to do.
• The paragraphs following the introduction should address what your body paragraphs are going to be about. These should be in the order of appearance in your essay. Summarise your topic sentence from each paragraph.
• Now you need to make a link between your texts and ideas. If you are comparing two texts, you can comment on shared or contrasted context, the universality of ideas and themes, and the relationship between the two.

Writing Body Paragraphs for Your Essay

Now that you have outlined what your essay is going to be about, you need to write your body paragraphs. Remember to make sure your body paragraphs are in the same order as they were stated in the introduction.

There are two ways you can approach your body paragraphs in a comparative essay. You can talk about both texts in the one paragraph related to the one linking idea, or you can give each text its own paragraph.

For example, your body paragraphs could look like this:


• Topic Sentence explaining the idea or theme you are discussing in relation to both texts. Always make sure you link this back to your essay question.
• Next, talk about text 1. Explain how the idea is explored in this text.
• Now, make sure you use examples of quotes and techniques which explore this idea in this text.
• Next, you need to talk about text 2. Explain how the idea is explored in this text.
• Now, make sure you use examples of quotes and techniques which explore this idea in this text.
• Ending Topic Sentence. Reiterate how each text explores this idea and how they can compare or contrast each other. Link back to the essay question.

Or if you would prefer to give each text their own paragraphs, your body paragraphs could look like this:

• Topic Sentence explaining the idea or theme you are discussing in relation to both texts. Always make sure you link this back to your essay question.
• Next, talk about text 1. Explain how the idea is explored in this text.
• Now, make sure you use examples of quotes and techniques which explore this idea in this text.
• Ending Topic Sentence. Reiterate how text 1 explores this idea and how it can be linked to the essay question.

Now you would do the same with your second text in its own paragraph.

• Topic Sentence explaining the idea or theme you are discussing in relation to both texts. Always make sure you link this back to your essay question.
• Next, talk about text 2. Explain how the idea is explored in this text.
• Now, make sure you use examples of quotes and techniques which explore this idea in this text.
• Ending Topic Sentence. Reiterate how text 2 explores this idea and how it can be linked to the essay question.

Both of these structures are fine to use. It really depends on personal preference and how much information you have regarding each idea. If you are writing a long essay, it may be better to use the second structure so your paragraphs are not too long. Whichever you choose, make sure you are consistent throughout your essay.

Writing a Concluding Paragraph for Your Essay

Lastly, you finish off your essay with a concluding paragraph. This should reiterate the essay question and summarise the ideas you have explored in the essay in relation to your two texts. It may help to think of this like your introduction rewritten but in a conclusive way, instead of an introductory way.

Making Links Between Your Texts
Making links between your texts shouldn't be too hard considering you should be familiar with them if you are at the essay writing stage. Think about the following when making links.

• Similarities between context, ideas, characters, techniques, plots?
• Differences between context, ideas, characters, techniques, plots?


The Comparative Essay Scaffold

Writing a comparative essay and presenting your ideas about two texts is easy if you use a scaffold. Utilize this structure at the beginning of your essay planning, it will help you get your ideas in order. Remember, you can always change the order you present your ideas as you edit. Just make sure your introduction and conclusion reflect these changes.

Copyright Joseph Kirby, successful English teacher, and a tutor for writemyessaysos.com. To obtain permission for republication contact the author.