Guide to Writing a Literature Compare/Contrast Essay



Download 57.61 Kb.
Date04.05.2016
Size57.61 Kb.
TypeGuide



Guide to Writing a Literature Compare/Contrast Essay

Purpose: Use this resource to walk through steps that will help you in creating your own compare/contrast essay for ENG125.

What is a compare/contrast essay?

A compare/contrast essay on literature enlightens the audience about the basic similarities and differences found in two pieces of literature. A student can compare two works by the same author or compare two authors’ techniques, ideas, characters, plot happenings, settings, theme or tone.




Step 1: Choosing Two Pieces of Literature
Writers choose stories, poems or drama based upon how much they enjoy it and upon how much they want to write about it. A writer may also relate strongly to a piece of literature and choose to write about its theme of race, gender or class.

The following groups of questions help writers think about the two pieces of literature. Students do not need to address these questions directly; instead, the questions can direct the writer to help develop to a well-focused essay.




  1. What are the important or noteworthy features of each work? Is it the use of characters, setting, plot, or some other literary feature? Make a chart of the pieces of each work that stand out above the rest. Are there any connections between the two works on the chart?

  2. What topics do the works have in common? Topic is the general heading such as “attitudes of society about women”, “the use of political power”, “race is represented in the text”, or “class struggle between different groups of characters.”

  3. How are the authors different in their thoughts on these common topics? How are they similar?

  4. What literary devices do the authors use and how do they use them?

  5. What details, including setting, characterization and/or plot incidents, highlight the thesis? Be specific about passages that you will use. Can you find parallel passages from both works?

  6. What will be gained by comparing and contrasting these two works? What will you help the reader see about both the works? Be specific here. List your answers.

  7. What works better in one work over the other? Why do you think that this is so? What are some representative passages that show this?

This chart may help you as you begin to organize your thoughts and answers to the questions above.




How alike?

How different?

Character(s), main and minor







Theme







Conflict







Cultural and Social Issues







Setting







Symbolism









Step 2: Read and Annotate the Story

Read the stories carefully and annotate each paragraph with a brief note on what occurs in each paragraph. Underline key passages that reveal character motivations, flaws or failures. Highlight key symbols and note how they add meaning to the story.


Step 3: Reflect on the Theme

What is theme of the story, poem or drama? How does the author convey that theme in symbols and other literary devices?


Step 4: Evaluate Characterization and Setting

What are the goals of the character(s) and how does the character(s) attempt to achieve those goals? What hinders the character and how does the character overcome (or how is the character defeated by) these obstacles? How does the setting add meaning to the story?



Step 5: Choose Specific Criteria

Before you can write your compare/contrast evaluation, you need to choose criteria that allow you to compare and contrast elements of each literary that highlight a similar or contrasting theme. An emotional response like “I liked the story because it reminded me of my own childhood” is not an analysis. Instead, identify three key criteria that focus on your thesis. Those criteria could include:




  • Dialogue

  • Description of scenes, setting

  • Description of people

  • Narrative and Plot Structure

  • Symbols

  • Literary Devices

Here are some criteria to avoid:



  • Subject matter: For example, saying, “I like stories about childhood adventures more than stories about getting married, etc.,” is too subjective.

  • Political viewpoints: For example, saying, “I don’t like stories with women characters since I am a man and don’t know about feminism, but I do like topics about environmentalism” would not be appropriate criteria.


Use the table below to help choose the criteria you will use for your literary analysis.

Create a list of five to seven criteria you may use to evaluate the literature.


Use this space for your response to the prompt to the left.



Identify criteria that might be too subjective--based too much on personal preference.

Use this space for your response to the prompt to the left.


Identify criteria that help flesh out meanings contained in the literature.


Use this space for your response to the prompt to the left.


Provide your revised list of criteria.


Use this space for your response to the prompt to the left.



Step 6: Narrowing Your Criteria and Making a Judgment

This is a very simple exercise. Which criteria do you seem to have the most evidence for? Narrow your list down to three or four criteria based on which one seems to provide the most relevant criteria with the best evidence to support. Then, consider which essay seems to have done the more effective job. Was it essay 1? Was it essay 2? Was it a tie?




List your final criteria:
[Criteria 1]

[Criteria 2]

[Criteria 3]

[Criteria 4]


Judgment:



Step 7: Developing a thesis statement

All essays have a controlling idea referred to as a thesis. In some essays like personal essays, that thesis is implicit, meaning that the reader has to find the hidden and central message of the work. Consider the personal essays that you read when choosing two for the compare/contrast essay. How many of them came right out and stated their message? Other essays are required to make their thesis statements explicit—especially academic essays. A compare/contrast essay is an academic essay. The thesis needs to be clear and easily identifiable. In fact, it usually occurs in the same location of every academic essay: the last line of the introductory paragraph. Here are some other rules to keep in mind about thesis statements in academic essays:



  1. Thesis statements are generally not in the form of questions.

  2. Thesis statements forecast what the body of the essay will look like. Here’s an example:

John Steinbeck’s novella, Of Mice and Men, demonstrates a more effective exploration of class than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby because of Steinbeck’s use of figurative language, audience awareness, and organization.
Here are some particular rules to keep in mind for the thesis statement for THIS essay:

  1. It should state the authors you are comparing.

  2. It should state the texts you are comparing.

  3. It should state the criteria that you are using for the comparison.

  4. It should state your interpretation of the theme.

  5. It should be no more than two sentences long.

For more information on creating a thesis utilize Writing a Clear and Sound Thesis for a Literary Analysis handout.
Step 8: Gathering Evidence for the First Draft.

So now you have your thesis statement and your criteria. You also know in general where each piece of literature uses the criteria you are assessing. It is now time to find specific examples to use that support your thesis statement and that compare how the essays use that criteria.

Let’s start generating evidence to include:

Criteria 1:




Criteria 2:




Criteria 3:




Essay 1:

Essay 2:

Essay 1:

Essay 2:

Essay 1:

Essay 2:














































































































Step 9: Drafting the Essay

Now that you have done your exercises, it is time to draft your essay. The more effort you put into these exercises, the easier it will be to write your draft. You will have all the tools and ideas in front of you ready to assemble.



Here are two organizations that you can use for your Compare-Contrast Essay:

Block Organization

Introduction: Introduce the essays being compared and end the introduction with a thesis statement or argument.

Example Thesis: Both texts by _________ _________and_______________ by ______________ explore the theme gender identities, with one story, __________, representing gender as determined by class and the poem by ________ showing gender as a performance determined by social expectations.

First Body Paragraph: Discuss criteria 1 and how it is used in the first story.

Example Topic Sentence: _______ reveals how gender is formed by a person’s class.

Second Body Paragraph: Discuss criteria 2 and how it is used in the first story.

Example Topic Sentence: ______ indicates that class and gender are often represented in a specific way in the media.

Third Body Paragraph: Discuss criteria 3 and how it is used in the first essay.

Example Topic Sentence: ______ shows that gender is diverse across different classes.

Fourth Body Paragraph: Transition to and discuss criteria 1 in the second essay, pointing out similarities and differences in how essay 2 and essay 1 incorporate that criteria.

Example Topic Sentence: ____ offers gender and class analysis, while __________ shows gender performance is a scripted by social norms.



















Fifth Body Paragraph: Transition to and discuss criteria 2 in the first essay, pointing out similarities and differences in how essay 2 and essay 1 incorporate that criteria.

Example: ___________ and ______________ show gender as performance, with class scripted into some of those roles.







Example: ____________describes gender in detail, though ____________ reveals how gender performance exists in specific contexts.

Conclusion: Without repeating any claims or previous statements or adding any new criteria, emphasize the importance of the similarities and differences between the two essays as they relate to your thesis.

Example: Though addressing class, ________ _____________ shows how gender is not defined by itself alone, while __________ shows performance as part of the effects of social norms that define “male” and “female.”


Point-by-Point

Introduction: Introduce the two or more subjects being compared and lead to a thesis statement or argument.

Example: Both the stories reveal family _____ by _________and _______________ by ______________, reveal family dysfunction, but ____________ is ultimately the better essay because it uses better dialog, has a clearer purpose, and the character descriptions are more rich.

First Point: Discuss the first criteria and how it is used in both essays, comparing and contrasting the manifestation of this criteria in each essay. This would probably be at least two paragraphs long.

Example: ____ and ____________ both provide dialogue. Whereas the dialogue provided in _________is very clear, the dialogue provided in ________ is more confusing because____________.

Second Point: Discuss the second criteria and how it is used in both essays, comparing and contrasting the manifestation of this criteria in each essay. This would probably be at least two paragraphs long.

Example: Both the author of ____________and ___________ make their purposes clear.

.


Third Point: Discuss the third criteria and how it is used in both essays, comparing and contrasting the manifestation of this criteria in each essay. This would probably be at least two paragraphs long.

Example: ____________describes its main characters well, but perhaps not with as many descriptive words and phrases as ___________.

Conclusion: Without repeating any claims or previous statements or adding any new criteria, emphasize the importance of the similarities and differences between the two essays as they relate to your thesis.

Example: Though only slightly better written, ________ is more effectively addresses its subject matter in comparison to __________________.

http://www.sjsu.edu/writingcenter/docs/handouts/Organization_CompareContrast.pdf

Choose one of the organization types and outline your essay.



Step 10: Drawing from the evidence you’ve collected and the organization above, start writing. You can sit down and try writing it in one fell swoop, or you can take it a paragraph at a time. Some people like to work on one paragraph or two paragraphs a day. Giving yourself seven full days to write this out carefully is often a really strong option.
Step 11: Run your draft through Turnitin. If any similarities come up, either make sure to quote the matching language and cite the source using APA format or revise the quote into your own words and cite the source. Yes, that’s right. Even if you rewrite it in your own words, you need to cite it. You didn’t come up with that sentence on your own. You had help. Citing the source shows appreciation for that help and gives the original author credit for their work.
Step 12: Revise your draft using the questions and checklists below.

Descriptive Analysis

  1. State your essay's main point. Ask yourself if your thesis expresses this point clearly.

  2. Examine each paragraph to check its connection to the thesis. First, paraphrase in one sentence the information that the paragraph contains, that is, what it says. Second, explain the function that the paragraph plays in developing the thesis, that is, what it does. Paragraphs may describe, narrate, list, explain, exemplify, compare, contrast, trace, analyze, synthesize, hypothesize, give a history, project the future, list reasons.

Evaluative Analysis

Consider your essay in terms of the following criteria:



  1. Unity: Does everything in your essay relate to your thesis?

  2. Coherence: Do paragraphs follow one another in a clear order? Have you used transitions between paragraphs and within paragraphs?

  3. Development: Are your points fully explained?

  4. Style: Are your ideas clearly expressed? Are they simply expressed, without unnecessary words, big words where smaller ones would do, or confusing word order?

  5. Mechanics: Is your essay in correct, edited English?

Lindemann's Checklist

Erika Lindemann (Hunter College, 1999) offers a series of questions grouped into categories that suggest the various concerns to which writers attend as they revise.



Subject, Purpose, Audience

  1. What's the most important thing I want to say about my subject?

  2. Who am I writing this paper for? What would my reader want to know about the subject? What does my reader already know?

  3. Why do I think the subject is worth writing about?

  4. What verb explains what I'm trying to do in this paper? (tell a story, compare X and Y, describe, explain)

  5. Does my first paragraph answer questions 1-4? If not, why not?

Organization

  1. How many specific points do I make about my subject? Did I overlap or repeat any points? Did I leave any points out or add some that aren't relevant to the main idea?

  2. How many paragraphs did I use to talk about each point?

  3. Why did I talk about them in this order? Should the order be changed?

  4. How did I get from one point to the next? What signposts did I give the reader?

Paragraphing: Ask these questions about each paragraph.

  1. What job is this paragraph supposed to do? How does it relate to the paragraph before it and after it?

  2. What's the topic idea? Will my reader have trouble finding it?

  3. How many sentences did it take to develop the topic idea?

  4. Can I substitute better examples, reasons or details?

  5. How well does the paragraph hold together? When I read the paragraphs out loud, does it flow smoothly?

  6. How many levels of generality does it have?

  7. Are the sentences different lengths and types?

  8. Do I need transitions?

Sentences: Ask these questions about each sentence.

  1. Which sentences do I like the most? the least?

  2. Can my reader "see" what I'm saying? What words could I substitute for abstractions like "people," "thing," "aspect?"

  3. Are there extra words in this sentence?

  4. Can I combine this sentence with another one?

  5. Can I add adjectives and adverbs or find a more lively verb?

Things to Check Last

  1. Did I check spelling and punctuation? What words do I usually misspell? What punctuation problems have I had in previous papers?

  2. How does my paper end? Did I keep the promises I made to my reader at the beginning of the paper?

  3. When I read the assignment again, do I find anything I missed?

  4. What do I like best about this paper? What do I need to work on in my next paper?

References

Hunter College. (1999). The writing process. Retrieved from http://rwc.hunter.cuny.edu/reading-writing/on-line/revision_guidelines.html


Share with your friends:




The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page