A compare and contrast essay is used to explore the similarities and differences between different ideas, theories, works of literature, writing styles, or literary periods. Its goal is not to mechanically list the similarities and differences, but rather to use these comparable aspects to present a unique idea or observation. If your instructor assigned a compare and contrast essay to you this semester and you do not know how to write one, the following lines will help you accomplish your goal. Even though the steps are used for medieval literature vs. Renaissance, you can use them for any compare and contrast essay.
Understand the goal of your assignment and thoroughly read the instructor’s guidelines. For instance, if your teacher had assigned a compare/contrast essay on Medieval literature vs Renaissance literature, you can choose a particular theme, literary device, a specific author, or sub-period. For more help with these, check out our 13 facts on medieval English literature vs Renaissance for a compare and contrast essay and 20 English literature topics on Medieval literature vs. Renaissance for a compare and contrast essay.
There are three major ways to organize your essay, so you need to choose the one which works best with your topic. Do not worry though; it is possible to switch from one organization style to another if your original choice is not working very well.
Possibly the best for topics related to English literature, this method allows you to present the main aspects which you will compare/contrast in each paragraph. Describe the aspect of Subject A and then Subject B, and then switch back and forth between each paragraph. Here is an outline to better explain this:
Also called chunking, this method allows you to address all the points about a subject in one block. The outline of this structure is similar to point-by-point except for the body, which is structured as follows:
Compare Then Contrast
Also similar to the first, this method’s ‘body’ section has to be written according to the following structure:
Follow the outline of your chosen structure and write your essay. Teachers traditionally want you to write three to five main paragraphs in the essay body. You can tweak this number depending on the assigned word count.
While writing each paragraph, be sure to link back to the ideas stated in your original argument. These links help the reader see the underlying logical consistency of your ideas. Furthermore, since this is a compare and contrast essay, you also have to create links between Subject A and Subject B.
Use transitional (connector) expressions to create links:
Similarity Connectors for Comparison
Difference Connectors for Contrast
Conclude the essay by summarizing your main points. You can also include any interesting evaluations and/or observations. End your essay by suggesting possible areas for further development.
Follow this guide and you will be able to write out your ideas in a logically consistent manner. Try to express your ideas clearly to get your point across. And remember: follow your instructor’s directions to get the high grade you are aiming for.