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Comparison Essay

Definition:

"A comparison essay is commonly used across academic disciplines. It requires the writer to look at the similarities and differences between two or more subjects which may, in fact, be related under an ‘umbrella topic’. For example, a Literature essay might require you to compare how two different writers approach the same theme by using the same genre."

The first thing to do when writing a comparison essay is to jot down differences and similarities between the subjects. By doing this, you organize your ideas more logically and can decide which are the most important; you might discover that you wish to focus more on similarities than differences or vice versa, depending on your observations.

Having done this, following the basic structure of writing an essay, there are two basic ways to proceed:

The first option is to examine each subject in turn, listing all the relevant points on one then doing the same with the other. This is by far the easier option because the writer can simply work through the list of comparisons compiled earlier on each subject before moving on to the next.

The second option, which is more complicated but ultimately more satisfactory, is to use a thematic approach i.e. take an idea from the topic and say how each subject conforms or not; the comparison will then evolve from the noted responses of each subject to the topic and how they differ from each other. The second method requires the writer to be very clear on how the comparisons are being made and evaluated, as well as balancing supporting evidence in equal proportion.

The conclusion should be a summation of the overall similarities and differences with relevant inferences being drawn. This might also include suggestions as to what these inferences might indicate for future study and/or suggest areas which might need to be examined as a result of the comparisons and judgements made.

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