To write a compare/contrast essay, you’ll need to make NEW connections and/or express NEW differences between two things. The key word here…is NEW!
- Choose 2 things that could go in the same category, but are also quite different. Good choices might be:
- Basketball & Football (both sports)
- Horses & Cats (both animals, but different in many ways)
- Writing & Singing (both art forms, but different in many ways)
- Gather your ideas by writing down characteristics of each thing. Note the differences and similarities between them.
- Ask yourself these important questions before you begin writing your draft:
Does my instructor want me to compare AND contrast, or am I only being asked to do one of those things?
Some instructors prefer that you only write about the differences between two things, while others want you to focus on explaining the similarities as well. Either way, you'll need to make sure that your thesis statement reflects your instructor's expectations. For example, if I wanted to write about Social Networking sites, I'd need to write different thesis statements depending on my compare/contrast assignment.
Sample thesis statement for contrast paper: In terms of social networking sites, Facebook focuses on presenting your daily life to others, whereas MySpace allows you to focus more on demonstrating your personal style.
Sample thesis statement for compare/contrast paper: While both Facebook and MySpace allow you to meet other users who have similar interests, only MySpace allows you to demonstrate your personal style.
Are these 2 things similar and/or different, in at least one meaningful way?
If you want to write a successful compare/contrast essay, you'll need to avoid writing about really obvious differences and similarities. For example:
- We all know that horses are larger than cats.
- We also know that basketball teams contain less players than football teams.
Tell us something we don't know (or might not notice)!
It would be better to write about how sensitive both horses and cats are to human needs and emotions. You could also suggest that though both basketball and football require a lot of teamwork, basketball players are expected to be a lot more versatile than football players.
You don't have to be a genius to write an interesting compare/contrast essay--you just have to look at ordinary things in a new way!
Do I know enough about my topic to write an effective compare/contrast essay?
Unless you're being asked to do some research as part of your compare/contrast project, make sure that you choose 2 things that you feel comfortable discussing, at length.
Your instructor may ask for multiple similarities and differences--make sure you're prepared to write a well-developed, meaningful essay on a topic that you know well before you get started!
Organizing Your Compare and Contrast Paper
There are two primary ways to organize your compare and contrast paper.
Chunking: placing all of the information for each individual subject in one place (chunk), and then using similarities as transitions.
Here’s a sample outline:
- Jane is distinct because…
- Jane is similar to Alice in these ways
- Alice is distinct because…
Piecing: giving pieces of the information for each individual subject in each paragraph—arranging the information by topic rather than by subject.
Here’s a sample outline:
- Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s appearances
- Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s backgrounds
- Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s interests
10 Good Examples Of Thesis Statements For A Compare And Contrast Essay
If you’ve been set this type of paper, you’ll need to know how to handle each part of its construction; and one of those parts is getting your thesis statement right!
It should come after the introduction and is usually just one sentence in the first paragraph of your first chapter. So, for something so short, it could be overlooked as not being as important as other parts of the paper. Well, don’t overlook it! In that short thesis statement should be contained your intention for the whole paper- so make sure you get it right!
A thesis statement should interpret the significance of the subject to be discussed. Simply, it informs the reader of the expectations they can have for the rest of the essay; it is the argument for the forthcoming thesis.
Here are 10 good examples:
- Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream contrasts the fairies and the mortals’ perception of, and boundaries of, reality, which is furthered by the play within a play.
- Although Egyptian and South American pyramids differed greatly in many respects, as with their exterior and interior construction techniques, they also had many striking similarities; most obviously, they were made by two geographically different peoples who had no contact with one another according to official history.
- There are an incredible amount of similarities between the stories of the movies Dances With Wolves and Avatar, with plenty of reason to think this is not accidental.
- When comparing and contrasting the Republicans and Democrats, it seems as though they have so much more in common than not.
- With Richard Dawkins and others promoting atheism these days, there are many atheists who have uncanny similarities with Christian preachers.
- Seeing as Judaism, Christianity and Islam all stem from the same Abrahamic religion, and therefore they all technically worship the same god, are there enough differences between them to keep them opposed?
- How exactly does Milton’s Paradise Lost differ to Genesis of the Bible, and due to many factors (such as having a single author) does Milton’s work actually contain more wisdom than the other?
- With quantum physics discovering what many would claim as old mystical truths, let’s examine just how many similarities can be seen in the spiritual and scientific worlds.
- Manet’s Olympia painting obviously has many similarities to the Titian’s original (the Venus of Urbino) and there are plenty of apparent contrasts in its artistic perception, but what of the public’s perception to such paintings at different points in time?
- With so many obelisks placed in major cities around the world, are there enough similarities in their placement to give weight to ancient ley line theories?