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Compare and Contrast Essay

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Writing Compare/Contrast Papers

Proper Language

In these type of papers, it is important to remember not to use I or you. Write the paper in third person, he/she, they, a person, people, someone, others, etc.

Introduction

  • Writing a compare/contrast paper may began the same way as any other paper.
  • It must start with an introduction paragraph.
  • Included in this paragraph is catch sentence to grab the reader’s interest. This sentence can be a question posed to the reader, as statistical fact, a controversial statement that provokes further thought, etc.
  • After which there should follow several general statements about the topic.
  • However, the last sentence of this paragraph should be the thesis statement. (In this sentence, you state the three comparing or contrasting points you plan to discuss in your paper. These points are considered items in a series and should be separate by commas. An example follows on the next slide.
  • In these papers, you can either write a paragraph where you compare the two topics and then follow it with a paragraph where you contrast the two topics, or you can do the compare and contrast in the same paragraph. I have done an example of how to do the compare and contrast in the same paragraph since that may be a little more difficult for some of you.
  • Note: Sometimes you are required to only compare two things or only contrast two things. If you are unsure, re-read the guidelines for the paper and ask the person who grades them for clarity.

Sample Thesis Statements

  • Because compare/contrast papers show similarities and differences of persons, places, things, and ideas, certain transition words can be used.
  • Let u pretend we are going to compare two movies based on the same topic. A possible thesis statement would read:

Gone With the Wind and Jezebel are two movies about the controversial South; however, they are alike and different in their depiction of social issues such as slavery, communal disease and male/female relationships.

Thesis Continued

  • The way I have written the thesis, it is obvious to my reader what three things I plan to discuss.
  • However, if I did not want to state all three things in my thesis statement, I could just make a general statement such as

Gone With the Wind and Jezebel are two movies about the controversial South; however, they are similar and different in their depiction of social issues.

  • Here I am still able to discuss my three issues without my reader having a “sneak preview.”
How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

The paragraphs

  • The next three paragraphs should be an exploration of the three points to be made.
  • In this example, my second paragraph would discuss how the two movies dealt with slavery in some similar and different ways.
  • My third paragraph would discuss how the two movies dealt with communal disease in some similar and different ways.
  • My fourth paragraph would discuss how the two movies dealt male/female relationships in some similar and different ways.
  • My fifth paragraph would start with a restatement of my thesis sentence and then several sentences summarizing the rest of my paper. Don’t forget to end with a catchy sentence or a cliff hanger that leaves the reader wanting more.

Sample Intro Paragraph

Gone With the Wind and Jezebel are two movies that will be remembered for more than the memorable performances of their leading ladies. The movies rivaled each other with set designs, elaborate costumes, and memorable musical scores. Both movies sought to reveal the emotional turmoil of the South during the Civil War. Although Gone With the Wind and Jezebel are two movies about the controversial South, they are alike and different in their depiction of social issues such as slavery, communal disease and male/female relationships.

Sample Paragraph Number Two

Gone With the Wind and Jezebel are similar and different in their depiction of slavery. In both movies, the slaves are shown as happily working for masters who are fair and compassionate. However, in Gone With the Wind, some of the slaves have more powerful roles in the lives of their masters. Two of the women are seen throughout the movie as being close companions who even give “orders” to their superiors. Unlike Gone With the Wind, this does not happen in Jezebel. The slaves in Jezebel are more subordinate and seem to be happy and content to take orders and smile in delight while they perform their duties. The extent of their relationship with their superiors does not seem to pass the “Yes Sir and No Sir” responses. Both movies seem to be very careful to portray the slave as an appreciative, joyful servant who is content with his/her lot in life. Although there are some similarities in the approach to slavery, there are still noticeable differences.

Transition Words to Use

  • However
  • Although
  • Even though
  • On the other hand
  • Similarly
  • Unlike
  • But
  • Likewise
  • Not only but also
  • Yet

Note: There are others. This is just to get you started.

Just an Example

  • This PowerPoint is to be used in conjunction with the assignment not in place of.
  • Please make sure you have read and met all of the requirements of the assignment.
  • If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
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