By now you have probably generated a huge list of similarities and differences—congratulations! Next you must decide which of them are interesting, important, and relevant enough to be included in your paper.
Ask yourself these questions:. Suppose that you are writing a paper comparing two novels. However, if you were writing a paper for a class on typesetting or on how illustrations are used to enhance novels, the typeface and presence or absence of illustrations might be absolutely critical to include in your final paper.
Thesis and Purpose Statements – The Writing Center – UW–Madison
Sometimes a particular point of comparison or contrast might be relevant but not terribly revealing or interesting. Talking about the different ways nature is depicted or the different aspects of nature that are emphasized might be more interesting and show a more sophisticated understanding of the poems. Be careful, though—although this thesis is fairly specific and does propose a simple argument that atmosphere and delivery make the two pizza places different , your instructor will often be looking for a bit more analysis.
Again, thinking about the context the class provides may help you answer such questions and make a stronger argument. You may find our handout Constructing Thesis Statements useful at this stage. The danger of this subject-by-subject organization is that your paper will simply be a list of points: a certain number of points in my example, three about one subject, then a certain number of points about another. This is usually not what college instructors are looking for in a paper—generally they want you to compare or contrast two or more things very directly, rather than just listing the traits the things have and leaving it up to the reader to reflect on how those traits are similar or different and why those similarities or differences matter.
100 Best Traditional Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for Students
Thus, if you use the subject-by-subject form, you will probably want to have a very strong, analytical thesis and at least one body paragraph that ties all of your different points together. Rather than addressing things one subject at a time, you may wish to talk about one point of comparison at a time. There are two main ways this might play out, depending on how much you have to say about each of the things you are comparing. Be aware, too, of the placement of your different points.
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Our handout on Organization can help you write good topic sentences and transitions and make sure that you have a good overall structure in place for your paper. You might compare and contrast two different kinds of pets, or two novels from the same historical time period. Where do you even begin with a coherent essay about two topics? Remember that your two subjects must be different, but still in the same ballpark, to create a meaningful compare-and-contrast essay.
For example, if you want to write about two different historical figures, it makes sense to choose two great artists rather than an artist and a politician.
Make two lists: one list of similarities, and another of differences. If you are a visual person, a Venn diagram can facilitate this process. Simply create two overlapping circles, one for each of the topics that you are comparing. Traits that differ are noted separately, within those that they share are written in the overlapping space.
How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Compare-Contrast Essay
This is a helpful visual aid, because it organizes similarities and differences clearly. All you have to do is glance at your Venn diagram to get a sense of the things that you could write about.
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If you prefer to focus on one subject at a time, jot your lists down on a blank sheet of paper and flip it over to the other side for the other subject. Remember to keep characteristics of the different subjects somewhat parallel.
This will make it easier to structure a good argument. A good compare-and-contrast essay goes beyond a simple listing of similarities and differences to make a meaningful statement about a larger topic. What do these similarities and differences say about the topic?
That will be your main argument. There are many possibilities for structuring a compare-and-contrast essay.
The Purpose of Compare/Contrast in Writing
You could write about one subject in detail, and then switch to the other. You could write two paragraphs about qualities that are common to women they tend to be more compassionate, they are good multitaskers along with some that they share with men they are capable of sacrificing self for the good of others.
Then you would focus on men in the next section. Men usually have superior physical strength and technical skills. 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.