How to Write a Comparative Essay
You should definitely know what is a comparative essay before you get to writing. A comparative essay is a composition made of many paragraphs that try to explain how two subjects are either similar or different. These essays are mainly about comparing and contrasting various aspects of the subjects in question. In this context, to compare is to identify the similarities between the subjects while to contrast is to describe their differences. They are not limited to specific topics; they can cover almost every topic on earth as long as the subjects have some relation.
What is a Comparative Essay – a short definition
Comparative means the one aimed to measure or judge subjects based on their similarities and differences to each other. Therefore, a comparative essay is an essay that usually needs the author to compare two subjects that have some relation in terms of similarities and differences. The subjects might have some close relation or may be very different.
How to start a good comparative essay – tips
Before starting to write an essay, it is very important first to understand what it is about. First of all, you should know what does comparative mean. You might write an essay full of good ideas but fail to answer the question. It is therefore advisable to first study the prompt at length highlighting the key words to identify the exact need. Most comparative essay questions usually have the phrase “compare and contrast” or simply “similarities and differences”.
- Identify the basis of comparison
Given the question, you have to develop the basis of comparison. Usually the question provides the basis of comparison but there are cases where the author needs to develop the same.
- For example, a question may ask you to compare between capitalism and communism. This is a question with a clear objective hence you don’t have to go an extra mile.
- Another case may be to compare any two political ideologies. This is a general question and you have to figure out the various political ideologies then identify any two that you can compare. Such instances requires the author to develop the basis of comparison by themselves.
- Develop the content of the essay
This step involves identifying what will feature in your essay. It involves identifying the similarities and differences of the items in comparison. You need to develop a list of ways in which the subjects are the same and how they are different. This list will enable you to develop the initial plan of the essay.
The list should be thoroughly evaluated so that only the main points of comparison are considered for the essay. The focus should be mainly on the points that are related and those that are of less significance should be cancelled.
- Come up with a Thesis
For an essay to be developed there must be a clear thesis statement that guides the author. This doesn’t matter whether the basis of comparison is given by the question or has been identified by the author.
In order to come up with the thesis statement, you should first look at the list containing the various aspects of comparison then decide whether the subjects tend to be more similar or they are quite different. Based on this judgment a simple comparative essay thesis statement should be developed. This thesis statement should be a reflection of how the subjects share similarities and how they are different. In complex cases, the essay statement should highlight both the similarities of the subjects while not forgetting their differences.
- Develop the essay structure
Essays have different structures. A comparative essay is therefore not an exception since it must be organized in such a way that the comparisons made in the essay can be easily followed by the reader.
The following are the main methods in which a comparative essay can be structured.
i. Alternating Method
In this method, the aspect of comparison if fully handled in one paragraph. What this means is that a full paragraph is used in explaining in detail one item of comparison in relation to the first subject. This will then be followed by another paragraph that also explicitly explains the same aspect but now it deals with the second subject. This is to say that the first and second paragraph explains the same aspect of comparison but deals with the first and second subject respectively. This therefore means the third and fourth paragraph will be dealing with another aspect but for the first and second subject respectively. This sequence goes on until the end of the essay.
– Gives more details about the item in comparison making it easy to handle two different subjects
– Produces a well analyzed and integrated paper
When to use this method
– Cases where detailed comparison is needed
– When the points of comparison are not related
ii. Mixed paragraphs method
Here one paragraph is devoted to explaining the way the subjects compare based on one aspect. This means that you begin by handling the first subject then finish by tackling the second one.
– gives the subjects equal weights in terms of comparison
– the reader gets to identify the comparison factor easily
When to use this method
– When dealing with a long comparative essay
– When dealing with complex subjects that need close attention
iii. Block Method
This is quite the easiest method though very dangerous. The basic principle here is to divide the essay into two parts. The first part devoted to one subject and the second part devoted to the other subject. This means that subject one and all the items of comparison involved are explain in the first part then the second part handles only subject two.
However, you should be keen to ensure that the order of the first part is strictly followed in the second part to allow for easy following and relation.
When to use this method
– When dealing with short essay
– When dealing with simple subjects
– Cases where there is no clear relation between items of comparison of subject one and subject two
– When you want to build the ideas of subject two from those highlighted for subject one
– When dealing with many subjects
Note: As mentioned earlier, this is a very dangerous method because one can view it as one sided and it also poses a challenge to reader in the process of relating the subjects.
How to come up with a comparative Essay Outline
At this point, we have killed the elephant in the room, which is developing the content of our comparative essay and deciding the essay structure that we are going to use. We are now left with writing the essay. The essay format of a comparative essay is just like that of any other essay, and it should have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
The introduction paragraph is mainly about giving the reader a glimpse of the essay in terms of its content and the expectation of the reader. It should therefore be simple and clear. It should also have a thesis statement that highlights the purpose of the essay and what is going to be discussed not forgetting a simple conclusion.
ii. Body Paragraphs
At this stage, you are just transferring what you had while identifying the things about the subject you are going to compare and organizing them in the preferred structure.
Just a reminder:
- The topic sentence should introduce the reader to what the paragraph handles
- Discussion of the aspect is done in the middle of the paragraph
- The last part of the paragraph should carry a low-level conclusion about the aspect discussed in the paragraph
- The paragraph should have enough information as too much or too less may render it meaningless
- Every paragraph should handle a single aspect e.g. it is quite unreasonable to compare the size of one subject to the color of another.
The conclusion is meant to give the reader an overview of the essay. This is made up of a review of what has been captured in the body paragraph followed by a conclusion about the two subjects. The conclusion should be a product of the identified similarities and differences and NOT of personal preferences.
NOTE: Ensure that you REVISE your work.
There are always some small errors that you may not notice while writing your essay. Once you are done with everything, and you still have time left before submitting your work, make sure you go through it to remove some small errors that might cost you a good grade.
Comparative Essay Topics
The list of topics that can fall under this docket is endless. However, there are some common topics such as:
- Compare and contrast between the GDP figures of US and Australia
- A comparative essay on the events of World War I and World War II
- Comparison between political ideologies such as capitalism and communism
- Positions on issues, e.g., Healthcare in the US and Australia
- Comparison between various Sports teams
- Different Systems of government.
- Comparison between various influential people.
- A comparative essay on religion, e.g., Christianity and Hinduism
- Comparison between various texts
- Comparison in technology such as comparing between different cars
Comparative Essay Example (clarified)
It is always very important to go through a comparative essay sample. This is because it helps in guiding you on the structure of the essay and therefore building your capacity to write a better one.
Here is a simple sample of a comparative essay.
Some political and economic ideologies have been adopted by different countries. The major ones include capitalism and communism. Despite the fact that these two ideologies have staunch differences, they also have some similarities. This paper, therefore, aims at looking at the various similarities and differences between the two.
The first similarity between capitalism and communism is that they both work in a democratic government. For capitalism, a democratic government allows people to own means of production and use the same in creating wealth. On the other hand, when it comes to socialism, a democratic government allows for the equal distribution of wealth and all the factors related to wealth production.
Secondly, both the two political ideologies are subjected to government intervention. In capitalism, regardless of the fact that the government intervention is limited, it is very vital for the state to come up with some rules and regulations aimed at curbing practices such as exploitation and monopolistic ventures. On the other, the communism system is mainly under the government, and the government is tasked to ensure that all the factors of production are equally distributed.
The first difference between these two political ideologies is the aspect of means of production. In a communist society, the means of production are solely under the custody of the society. On the other hand, the resources of means of production are owned by individuals in the capitalist society.
Secondly, in the communist society, the society decides on the amount of production and determines the price of the same commodities. On the other hand, in the capitalist society, an individual is in charge of the amount he/she want to produce and also the price to charge.
In conclusion, it is clear that these two political ideologies have similarities such as they both work well in a democratic government and are all subject to government intervention. They are also different regarding who owns the means of production, who decides on the level of production and the prices of the commodities. This, therefore, means that to have a successful society, it should be a mixed society that supports both communism and capitalism.
Comparative Analysis Essay
A comparative analysis essay is an essay that compares two different subjects such as people, texts, events, and theories. The focus of a comparative analysis essay is mainly on identifying the main similarities or differences between the subjects. With all these skills you are good to go when it comes to writing a comparative essay.
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