Determine How to Handle Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

how to write compare and contrast essay

In the process of study or research, often you have to write works on comparative analysis. For example, you can compare and contrast two historical figures, two political theories, two social trends, two scientific processes, and so on. If you don’t know how to write compare and contrast essay, keep in mind that the classical structure of comparative analysis contains a comparison of several objects. The author’s goal is to identify and compare their similarities and differences.

There are various ways of comparative analysis. However, let us dwell on the key points which are important while writing a compare and contrast essay.

  • Context. Define the context against which you will conduct a comparative analysis. In other words, describe the problem, theory or idea, containing objects that you need to compare. For example, if you are analyzing two similar legal norms, it is advisable to touch on the problems of the field of law in which they are applied. For greater credibility, an essay should not have your own conclusions, but a reference to authoritative sources. Comparative analysis outside the context will deprive you of the foundation on which you will build your arguments in the process of writing a compare and contrast essay.
  • Grounds for comparison. In the study, you need to justify the reason why you are comparing the selected objects. For example, you decided to compare what is more useful for a healthy diet: cabbage or beets. Readers should follow the logic that guided you when selecting objects for comparison. And explain why you do not compare the nutritional benefits of carrots and cucumbers. This is necessary for the reader to see that your choice is logical and conscious, and not imposed. So, indicate the reasons for your choice.
  • Arguments. You write a comparative analysis, so it is logical to operate with facts that can and should be compared when comparing two objects. Your statements are designed to show how objects relate to each other. Do these objects complement, enrich each other? Do they contradict, challenge, exclude each other? The purpose of the arguments put forward is to show the ratio of the two objects. Your facts are built on the basis of the context of the idea (problems, theories) from which you have identified the compared objects. Showing the ratio of objects, you can use the following words: “while,” “opposite,” “besides,” “supplementing,” “excluding,” etc.

Methods of comparative analysis. Write the introductory part of the work: context, reasons for comparison and arguments, and determine how you will compare objects. There are three methods for this:

A) First set out all the pros and cons of the object X, then do the same of the object Y.
B) Sequentially compare in turn the similar elements of the objects X and Y.
C) Compare X and Y, placing more emphasis on one of the objects. This method is recommended in case X and Y can not be fully compared. So, the X object can act as a tool to determine if the object Y corresponds to the arguments you put forward previously.

The relationship of the compared objects to the arguments. The work will look like a whole if you show the relationship between the objects and the key arguments. Without such a connection, the reader will find it difficult to see how the next part of the object comparison correlates with the arguments.

So, how to write compare and contrast essay of characters in literary works avoiding typical mistakes? A typical mistake writing a compare and contrast essay is a simplified analysis of images. First, characterize one hero, and then another. Two small compositions about two heroes are obtained. But it is necessary to conduct a parallel characteristic, parallel analysis, and at first it is advisable to consider the common features inherent in the heroes, and then their opposite.

It is always necessary to compare according to the essential, and not the secondary, attributes, and the same (the origin of one and the origin of the other, the world outlook of one – the outlook of the other). Finally, we need to identify the similarities and differences at the same time.

A one-sided comparison is fraught with danger: if we consider only similarities or only differences, we can come to an incomplete, distorted understanding of objects, phenomena, events, or heroes. It should be borne in mind that in some cases, a comparative characteristic is given to the similarities, while others emphasize differences. And accordingly, to a greater or lesser extent, the methods of comparison and contrast are used.

The comparative characteristic strengthens the emotional impression, allows deeper penetration into the essence of the characters being compared (contrasted), helps to comprehend their role in revealing the entire system of images of the work, as well as its ideological and artistic identity, and more fully reveals the author’s characters to the person depicted.

The analysis of similarity and contrast between the heroes makes it possible to see in them a commonality, important in historical, social or moral terms and at the same time, the individual uniqueness of each. First, compare the simplest, “obvious” characteristics of heroes: age, origin, education, social status, material prosperity.

Pay attention to the character traits. One hero is cheerful, romantic, honest. Another is a cynic, and likes to lie. Be sure to focus on the attitude to life and to people, for example. One is “tired of life,” the other character to the very end does not get tired of knowing it. One hero is ready to understand each person, the other character only thinks of himself (or herself).

It is very important to compare how the heroes of works behave in the same situation. It is important not to miss comparison of the beliefs of the heroes, their philosophical position. It is worth paying attention to the relationship of the characters with other characters. Explore how the author of the work relates to the characters, whether they are described with love, surprise, or with disdain.

We can help you not only with compare and contrast essay writing, but with other types of essays as well. Check out our blog for more useful posts, for example, Be Bright: How to Make a College Essay Stand Out.