A comparative essay is one in which you compare two or more items. The items to be compared differ depending on the subject you are writing on. Through your academic years, you will be asked to write essays that compare two or more items. In a case where the assignment may ask you to “compare”, in which case you will be required to focus on both the similarities and differences.
In the event that an assignment that asks you to contrast, then that the primary focus of your essay will be on the differences. How much does subject A differ from subject B?
You can be asked to compare;
The structure of a comparative essay is quite simple yet important. A good structure will let your ideas flow in a manner easy to and articulate and understandable to the reader. The simple essay structure consists of these 4 parts,
The points above seem easy, however, what makes the essay is the information input into each of the sections above. Some other smaller points go into each section making contributing to each part of the essay.
Introduce your topic in the simplest yet elaborate way possible. In this section of the essay, just mention the topic and the theme you will be discussing. For example, if you will be comparing a play, mention the personas who will be the subjects of discussion. State the theme of discussion, the essence of the easy and the direction you intend to steer the essay to.
To develop a thesis statement, start by identifying the basis of your discussion per the instructions of the assignment. The instruction may either be;
A thesis statement is based on the differences and similarities between the two or more items of discussion. Listing these down as you identify them acts as a guide to developing an outline for your discussion.
This list is not the ultimate outline of the essay but should provide you with enough similarities and differences that you can derive your thesis statement from.
Once you have listed the similarities and differences of your subject item, check to see whether the similarities outweigh the differences or vice versa. Create a thesis statement based on the relative weights. A more complex thesis statement can include both similarities and differences.
The structure of the body brings out the comparative nature of this genre of essays. Here, you discuss into detail the subjects of comparison and bring out all the related and unrelated points about the subjects of discussion. Start by identifying related points in both subjects A and B. To bring out the differences or similarities in the subjects, you can use the following method of discussion;
Alternating method: Point-by-point pattern
In the alternating method, start by finding related points that are common to your central subjects of discussion then alternate between the subjects on the basis on these points. A comparative essay on the French and Russian revolutions can examine how both revolutions either encouraged or discouraged innovation based on new technology, military strategy and the administrative system.
Using the alternating method, you can structure the body of your essay as follows;
This method allows you to bring out the differences or similarities of both revolutions in a simple way per paragraph making it easy for the reader to get the comparative effect.
To use the alternating method, you need to have something noteworthy to say about both subjects of discussion in each area. Finally, you may certainly include more than three pairs of alternating points: allow the subject matter to determine the number of points you choose to develop in the body of your essay.
When to use the Alternating Method
It is most preferable to use this method if you are able to clearly identify and related points between your subjects of discussion. This method does a good job of highlighting differences. It produces a more analytical paper that is well integrated. If there are no clear related points between the subjects of discussion, the alternating method is not applicable and its use may be counter productive.
This method uses a subject by subject pattern. You discuss all the points of subject A then all of the points f subject B. For instance, using the block method to discuss a comparative essay on the French and the Russian revolutions, you would first discuss the French revolution in the first half of the essay, then the Russian revolution on the second half of the essay. You however, have to ensure that the two sections of the essay are related and well integrated into each other. The second half of your essay should refer to the first part of your essay and make point of comparisons whenever they are relevant. This method of comparison allows for a higher level of engagement continuity and cohesion.
Below is an example of how you can structure your paragraphs in the body of your essay using the block method
When to use The Block Method?
The block method is particularly useful in the following cases:
Once you have drawn and discussed your points of comparison, then come up with a conclusion on the subject matter. The conclusion may be based on a personal opinion on the subject matter and the outcome of your comparison. It is always advisable to give an opinion based on personal understanding of the subject matter. It brings out a different perspective from which future recommendations can be drawn.
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