English 1c dr. O’Hora Comparison Essay



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English 1C


Dr. O’Hora

Comparison Essay

Write a comparison essay in which you develop the similarities between two essentially dissimilar subjects/topics OR the dissimilarities between two essentially similar subjects. You may also consider both similarities and differences between two subjects. However, if you choose this approach, you still must stress either similarities or differences in order to give your argument focus and clarity.


Your essay must be 4-5 typed pages, must cite at least three sources, and must have a Works Cited page. The essay must be centered on a clear, interesting thesis and must explore both subjects in depth. Your thesis has to draw certain aspects of the two subjects together either as similar or as different:
“While Jerrilyn Farmer and Walter Mosley are both mystery writers whose novels are set in Los Angeles, Farmer’s novels focus on the contemporary LA scene in places such as Silver Lake, Hollywood, and Chinatown while Mosley explores life in South Los Angeles before and after World War II. In addition, both mystery writers have detective protagonists whose business is related to the food industry. Mosley’s character, Easy Rawlins, has a donut shop that provides an income to justify his unstable detective business but only an occasional meeting place to further plot development. Farmer’s detective character, Madeline Bean, however, owns a catering business that is central to her livelihood but that also provides the essential connections to murder and mayhem that drive her plots. Both detective novelists , however, create powerful novels and convincing fictional worlds by means of very different regional focus, historical emphasis, and depiction of the world of work.”


Possible topics:

two historical or contemporary figures – Barak Obama vs. Mitt Romney; Hugo Chavez vs. Raul Castro; Hosni Mubarak vs. M. Gadaffi

two styles of music or art – installation art vs. sculpture; surrealism vs. impressionism; classical rock vs. alternative

two contemporary issues – two approaches to outsourcing; two views of stem cell research; two approaches to border security; two views of the war in Afghanistan; two approaches to the EU; two approaches to raising tuition; the US vs. the Japanese response to a hurricane/tsunami; recession vs. depression

two organizations – Habitat for Humanity vs. Doctors Without Borders

two terms – space vs. cyberspace; terrorism vs. freedom fighter; a just vs. an unjust law; organic vs. vegan; street smarts vs. academic intelligence

two poems, short stories, films, murder mysteries

two scientific/historical/political/psychological theories or terms – two explanations of the origin of the universe; Chinese communism vs. Soviet communism; anxiety vs. neurosis; tsunami vs. earthquake; string theory vs. wave theory

a film vs. a written version of the same novel, play, etc., or an original and a sequel

two cultures or regions the desert vs. the mountains; Pakistan vs. Afghanistan; Extreme winter sports competitors vs. Olympic skiers and slalom racers; the Republic of Ireland vs. Northern Ireland
Comparison/Contrast Essays
Goal: To explore the similarities and differences between two texts.
To begin

Think about the arguments and evidence presented in each text. Try to identify each author's thesis statement.


Thesis Statement

The thesis statement of a comparison/contrast paper should contain an idea or claim that unites a discussion of the texts. The thesis statement should also include the argument that will be advanced in support of the claim that is being made.


Methods of Organization

Organization is critical to a Compare/Contrast paper. Because you will most likely be discussing a variety of evidence, you will have to be certain that your logic can be understood by the reader. Working from an outline might simplify your task and enable you to evaluate your own reasoning.



1st Method:

I. Introduction

A. Briefly introduce the significance of subject matter



B. Thesis Statement

First supporting point

Second supporting point

Third supporting point


II. First work

A. Summary of work

Relationship of work to first point

Relationship of work to second point

Relationship of work to third point
III. Second work

(same structure)


IV. Third work

(same structure)


V. Conclusion

A. Restate thesis

B. Summarize how you proved your argument


2nd Method:
I. Introduction

A. Briefly introduce significance of subject matter



B. Thesis statement
II. Brief explanation of Work 1
III. Brief explanation of Work 2
IV. First comparative point

A. Relation of point to 1st work

B. Relation of point to 2nd work
V. Second comparative point (same)
VI. Third comparative point (same)
VII. Conclusion

A. Restate thesis

B. Summarize how your proved your argument

Let's look at a working example of the 2nd method, which is more commonly used.


2nd Method: Compare and contrast the Fascist regime created by Hitler and the Totalitarian system under Stalin, paying particular attention to their methods of creating and manipulating nationalism.
I. Introduction

First work -- Hitler used parades, convention meetings and visual propaganda to unite a group of followers and create feelings of nationalism.

Second work -- Stalin also used visual propaganda to unite a group of followers; however, he also resorted to methods of mass terror, through purges and gulag camps, to create a feeling of Soviet nationalism.

Thesis statement -- In this paper I will argue that through the use of "brotherhood," charisma, education and propaganda, Hitler created stronger feelings of nationalism and loyalty among his followers than did Stalin, who relied far too much upon mass terror.

II. Explain the Hitler regime, specifically the key characteristics that define it as a Fascist political system.
III. Explain the Stalin regime, specifically the key characteristics that define it as a Totalitarian political system.
IV. First comparative point -- How each leader made use of the concept of "brotherhood"

Relation of point to first work

Relation of point to second work

Use specific examples from the readings and texts to support your argument



V. Second comparative point -- Charismatic qualities of each leader (same structure)
VI. Third comparative point -- Use of education and propaganda (same structure)
VII. Conclusion

Restate thesis



Brief summary of how you proved your argument


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