Compare Contrast Essay
A compare contrast essay is one of the most commonly assigned essay forms. It requires the writer to assess the similarities and differences of two or more texts, ideas, or other objects of study in a thorough and academic way. A compare contrast essay is not simply an article that outlines the ways the two objects of study are different. As its name suggests, a compare contrast essay must uncover both similarities and differences.
Effective compare contrast essays often require more effort in their preparation than in their execution. This is because the writer must devote significant time to considering the similarities and differences between the two objects. Compare contrast essays are not designed to merely point out the obvious; rather, they are intended to provoke creative and analytic consideration. For instance, it is not enough to point out that Robert Frost's "Home Burial" and Billy Collins' "No Time" are both poems. Anyone who glances at these two works would be instantly aware that they are both poems. The compare contrast report should seek to uncover interesting and often nuanced similarities and differences in order to bring new insight to both texts.
The best way to begin the process of writing compare contrast essays is to consider the main subject, point, or essence of each of the two subjects of study. For instance, to focus on the poems above, the main subject of Frost's poem is the death of an infant child, and the main subject of Collins' poem is an adult child's thoughts about his dead parents. By clearly identifying the main subjects, it becomes easy to see that regarding these poems, there is both a comparison and a contrast to be made in regards to primary subject matter: both poems address the death of family members, but they invert the subject of grief. In one poem, a parents grieve for their child, and in the other poem, a child grieves for his parents.
Once general comparisons and contrasts have been made, it is helpful to perform a freewrite in order to uncover more nuanced similarities and differences about the two subjects. A freewrite is a writing session in which the writer writes without stoppingâ€”literally without lifting his pen from the pageâ€”for five or more minutes. A freewrite allows the writer's consciousness and sometimes sub consciousness to present itself on the page. This helps to generate ideas that may not have been available to the writer through purely logical consideration of the subjects.
After performing a freewrite on each of the objects of study separately, the writer should read over the freewrites to see what types of ideas he or she may have uncovered about the two objects of study. This will likely lead to more in-depth analyses of the two subjects that allow for further levels of comparison and contrast.
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