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4.1: Introduction to Comparison and Contrast Essay

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The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. Comparison and contrast is simply telling how two things are alike or different. The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both. The thesis should focus on comparing, contrasting, or both.

Key Elements of the Compare and Contrast:

  • A compare-and-contrast essay analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both.
  • The purpose of writing a comparison or contrast essay is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities between two subjects.
  • The thesis should clearly state the subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both, and it should state what is to be learned from doing so.
  • Organize by the subjects themselves, one then the other.
  • Organize by individual points, in which you discuss each subject in relation to each point.
  • Use phrases of comparison or phrases of contrast to signal to readers how exactly the two subjects are being analyzed.

Objectives: By the end of this unit, you will be able to

  • Identify compare & contrast relationships in model essays
  • Construct clearly formulated thesis statements that show compare & contrast relationships
  • Use pre-writing techniques to brainstorm and organize ideas showing a comparison and/or contrast
  • Construct an outline for a five-paragraph compare & contrast essay
  • Write a five-paragraph compare & contrast essay
  • Use a variety of vocabulary and language structures that express compare & contrast essay relationships

Example Thesis: Organic vegetables may cost more than those that are conventionally grown, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny.

Graphic Showing Organization for Comparison Contrast Essay

Sample Paragraph:

Organic grown tomatoes purchased at the farmers’ market are very different from tomatoes that are grown conventionally. To begin with, although tomatoes from both sources will mostly be red, the tomatoes at the farmers’ market are a brighter red than those at a grocery store. That doesn’t mean they are shinier—in fact, grocery store tomatoes are often shinier since they have been waxed. You are likely to see great size variation in tomatoes at the farmers’ market, with tomatoes ranging from only a couple of inches across to eight inches across. By contrast, the tomatoes in a grocery store will be fairly uniform in size. All the visual differences are interesting, but the most important difference is the taste. The farmers’ market tomatoes will be bursting with flavor from ripening on the vine in their own time. However, the grocery store tomatoes are often close to being flavorless. In conclusion, the differences in organic and conventionally grown tomatoes are obvious in color, size and taste.

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Comparative Essay

comparative essay sample introduction

Academic institutions always provide writing exercises to students so that the level of understanding that the students can have about a particular subject manner is widened. One of the most common academic essay examples  that’s given as writing assignment to students is the comparative essay. A comparative essay, also known as comparison essay or compare and contrast essay, is the type of essay that specifically analyzes two subject matters. There are a lot of academic fields where writing a comparative essay can be beneficial to students and their educational undertaking.

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A comparative essay can either compare or contrast two topics, theories, materials and other subjects of discussion. However, there are activities where both comparisons and contrasts are necessary to be presented. If you are required to write a comparative essay but is unaware on how you can do one effectively, you can browse through the samples that we have gathered for you so you can be more knowledgeable on how to structure both the content and layout of this kind of essay.

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The Concept of Comparative Essays

Different  college essay examples  are written based on different sets of instructions. Depending on the writing task that you have at hand, the things that you may include in your comparative essay may vary. However, the concept of making a comparative essay remains the same. For it to be clearer in your mind, here is how a comparative essay works:

  • A comparative essay is an academic essay  that requires students to create a comprehensive and precise comparative report about two things.
  • A comparative essay is an organized written material that is meant to provide a comparison that should be easily understood by the target readers. It is set to impress people by providing them the information that they need to be aware of about two subjects and how they differ and/or compare with each other.
  • A comparative essay can be written if you have two objects or subjects that can be compared in a level where their similarities and/or differences are relevant or meaningful for a specific purpose.
  • A comparative essay can be used in formal writing assignments and it can also be the basis for various research assessments.
  • A comparative essay is created through pertaining precise points of comparison. These points should be backed by actual researchers, factual information, and other reliable evidence.

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Student Comparative Essay Sample


How to Develop the Content of Your Comparative Essay

Before writing a comparative essay, you first need to arm yourself with the information that you need. This will allow you to create a comparative essay that is filled with relevant and helpful information. More so, this can help you veer away from committing  common essay mistakes  if you are already in the process of actual content writing.

The way that you plan to present your ideas, especially if they are backed up with facts, can make your comparative essay more successful. Listed below are the steps that you may use when developing the content of your comparative essay.

  • The first thing that you need to do is to be aware of the question that you need to answer. You need to be aware of the essay prompt so you can address the needs of your readers. It is essential for you to be fully knowledgeable of the essence of the question so you can interpret it accordingly. The content that you will write will only be effective if it is related to the question and if it matches the purpose on why the essay is necessary to be written.
  • Know whether there are limits for your discussion . Always identify whether you need to know the similarities or the differences between your subjects. Also, you need to know whether the scope of your essay assignment requires you to do any of these or both.
  • Select the ideas that you would like to compare. It is important for you to have an in-depth understanding of the kind of comparison that you will write. The framework of your essay should be based on an actual evaluation that can point out how you were able to perceive the similarities or differences of the subject.
  • Assess whether you already have sufficient points for comparison. Your ability to present as many valid points as possible can make a lot of clarifications about the unanswered questions that you can enlighten your readers with.
  • Once the points of your comparison are already specified, list down whether they are under the similarities or differences of the two subjects. This step can help you be organized throughout the writing process. With easy access to how subjects are compared, you can be guided on how to use them in your content development.
  • Evaluate your list. Your list is only your initial view about the subjects being reviewed or assessed. Hence, further evaluation is necessary. Make sure that you will read through the entire list so you can rank them based on their impact and weight of thesis.
  • Chronologically arrange your list based on your basis of comparison . Make sure that you will follow a metric when examining the items that you will place in your actual comparative essay.
  • Know the approach that you will use when developing your essay content. Will you be theoretical? Will you focus on answering questions for comparison? It is essential for you to be aware of your basis so your approach can provide you with maximum benefits within the entirety of the content development process.
  • Research further about your subjects so you can verify whether your claims and initial claims are correct. This can help you create more topics and gather more evidence that can support your comparison.
  • Create a thesis statement where your discussion can set its foundation. This will enable you to start writing the comparative essay that you would like to achieve.

You may think that this is a very long process just for developing the ideas that you will present. In a way, you may be right. However, being prepared and ready on how you will attack and execute the writing assignment can make it easier for you to create a valid discussion.

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Steps in Organizing Your Comparative Essay Discussion

Aside from knowing the idea of what you will write about, the structure of your essay or the organization of your essay’s content can affect the smooth flow of your discussion. Even during  last minute essay writing  activities, you can still come up with an outstanding comparative essay if you are already knowledgeable on how you can organize your essay’s idea, content, structure, and discussion. Listed below are some of the ways on how you can efficiently organize your comparative essay’s content.

  • Refer to the outline of your comparisons. This is where the items that we have discussed above can be helpful. If you are already guided by your comparisons, then you can easily rank their relevance to the essay that you will write. Referencing your comparisons can make it easier for you to have a thesis statement that you can further discuss.
  • Organize your writing strategies. The strategies that you will incorporate into your discussion can make it easier for readers to relate to your point. You need to make sure that your strategies are aligned with your type of comparison and the subjects that you are comparing.
  • Properly address your comparisons.  For your comparative essay to be highly-usable, you need to make sure that you will implement simplicity within your discussion. Do not make it complicated. The content of your comparative essay should be as simple as possible so that it can be furthermore understood.
  • Organize your paragraph structure.  The way that you create your paragraph listing can be one of the factors that can either improve or destroy your comparative essay. You should create a draft that can specifically state the items that you will discuss per paragraph. Create statements that can address specific comparisons and divide them per paragraph. Each of your paragraphs should be talking about one subject so you can give focus per comparison aspect.
  • Evaluate whether your writing guide is already organized enough. It is essential for you to not overlap subjects of discussion. When organizing your statements, make sure to cover one subject at a time. This will help you create a comparative essay that contains a list of carefully arranged and curated evidence which are further discussed and broken down into relevant specification pieces.

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Writing Guide in Creating the Actual Comparative Essay

Just like  descriptive essay examples  and other kinds of academic essays, a comparative essay can be created in different ways. Each writer has various techniques that can be applied when doing this particular kind of essay. Since there are no strict rules when it comes to crafting a comparative essay, all you need to ensure is that your comparative essay is comprehensive, understandable and credible. Here is how you can effectively write your actual comparative essay:

  • Create an introduction to the topic. Your thesis statement should contain the subjects that you will talk about. You also need to create an initial discussion of what your readers can expect to the reader within the content of your comparative essay. A strong validation of your comparison can make your readers more interested to browse through the entire essay document.
  • Develop your next paragraphs for discussion. As mentioned above, work per paragraph. Arrange your topics of discussion in a way that each paragraph can specifically state one comparison topic per time. You have to create an interesting discussion so you need to ensure that all your paragraphs are organized and well-written.
  • Finalize your comparative essay with a conclusion. Your last paragraph should contain the information about your final thoughts with regards the comparison. How different or similar are the two subjects from one another? How sure are you that your basis is factual and relevant? Create a great impact b
  • y having a conclusion that can put together all your points of discussion.

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Sample Comparative Essay Guide


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Factors to Consider When Writing a Comparative Essay

In comparison to  evaluation essay examples , a comparative essay is more keen with regards the assessment of two subjects. If you will write a comparative essay, you need to have an idea of the impacts of different factors to the result that you may get at the end of the writing activity. Listed below are some of the elements or factors that you need to take into consideration when writing a comparative essay.

  • Your discussion’s organization.  Within the entirety of the comparative essay creation, it is very evident that organization is key to success. As a writer, you need to ensure that you have a skeletal plan that can create your discussion more polished and coherent. The discussion of your organization can greatly affect the impression of your readers with regards your knowledge about your topic as well as your level of understanding with what you are talking about.
  • Your thesis statement.  When creating a comparative essay, you need to stick with an argument that can provide you the framework for the effective dissemination of information. Your thesis statement should be based on the results of your frame of references. You need to analyze your subjects properly so that you can create a stand on how you perceive them in levels of similarities and/or differences.
  • Your claims or grounds for comparison.  You should always be aware of your selection processes. At the end of the writing activity, you need to validate the importance of comparing two subjects. Always have your grounds of comparison ready so you can ensure your readers that you have followed a particular set of criteria that can enable the objectivity between the selection of two items for comparison. The rationale that you have behind your subject selection can make your comparative essay more appealing.
  • Your reference frame.  A comparative essay’s frame of reference deals with the way that the writer has created the groupings for the comparison. May it be talking about the similarities, differences, or both of these factors; a comparative essay should be able to have a reference that can identify how the characteristics of ideas, themes, theories or even problems are arranged.

With the samples that we have in this post, it will be faster for you to identify the points of discussion that you need to provide. Again, comparative essays vary from one another in terms of content. Ensure that you are fully aware of the writing instructions given to you so you can plan your comparative essay’s content and structure accordingly.

Always refer to the guidelines and tips that we have specified so you can create effective decisions in every step of your comparative essay development. Do not be afraid to write what your thoughts. As long as these thoughts are based on factual references, then it will be easy for you to have a comparative essay that can achieve its purpose or reason for creation.

the art of writing a comparative essay lies in the delicate balance of presenting similarities and differences in a clear, coherent manner. This type of essay encourages critical thinking and develops analytical skills, crucial for academic success. For further guidance on creating effective comparative essays, the UNC Writing Center offers a detailed resource on comparing and contrasting ( UNC Writing Center ). This link provides valuable insights and examples, helping students refine their comparative writing skills. By mastering the comparative essay, students not only enhance their writing abilities but also deepen their understanding of contrasting subjects, an essential skill in many academic and professional fields.

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Comparative essay is a common assignment for school and college students. Many students are not aware of the complexities of crafting a strong comparative essay. 

If you too are struggling with this, don't worry!

In this blog, you will get a complete writing guide for comparative essay writing. From structuring formats to creative topics, this guide has it all.

So, keep reading!

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is a Comparative Essay?
  • 2. Comparative Essay Structure
  • 3. How to Start a Comparative Essay?
  • 4. How to Write a Comparative Essay?
  • 5. Comparative Essay Examples
  • 6. Comparative Essay Topics
  • 7. Tips for Writing A Good Comparative Essay
  • 8. Transition Words For Comparative Essays

What is a Comparative Essay?

A comparative essay is a type of essay in which an essay writer compares at least two or more items. The author compares two subjects with the same relation in terms of similarities and differences depending on the assignment.

The main purpose of the comparative essay is to:

  • Highlight the similarities and differences in a systematic manner.
  • Provide great clarity of the subject to the readers.
  • Analyze two things and describe their advantages and drawbacks.

A comparative essay is also known as compare and contrast essay or a comparison essay. It analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both. The Venn diagram is the best tool for writing a paper about the comparison between two subjects.  

Moreover, a comparative analysis essay discusses the similarities and differences of themes, items, events, views, places, concepts, etc. For example, you can compare two different novels (e.g., The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Red Badge of Courage).

However, a comparative essay is not limited to specific topics. It covers almost every topic or subject with some relation.

Comparative Essay Structure

A good comparative essay is based on how well you structure your essay. It helps the reader to understand your essay better. 

The structure is more important than what you write. This is because it is necessary to organize your essay so that the reader can easily go through the comparisons made in an essay.

The following are the two main methods in which you can organize your comparative essay.

Point-by-Point Method 

The point-by-point or alternating method provides a detailed overview of the items that you are comparing. In this method, organize items in terms of similarities and differences.

This method makes the writing phase easy for the writer to handle two completely different essay subjects. It is highly recommended where some depth and detail are required.

Below given is the structure of the point-by-point method. 

Block Method 

The block method is the easiest as compared to the point-by-point method. In this method, you divide the information in terms of parameters. It means that the first paragraph compares the first subject and all their items, then the second one compares the second, and so on.

However, make sure that you write the subject in the same order. This method is best for lengthy essays and complicated subjects.

Here is the structure of the block method. 

Therefore, keep these methods in mind and choose the one according to the chosen subject.

Mixed Paragraphs Method

In this method, one paragraph explains one aspect of the subject. As a writer, you will handle one point at a time and one by one. This method is quite beneficial as it allows you to give equal weightage to each subject and help the readers identify the point of comparison easily.

How to Start a Comparative Essay?

Here, we have gathered some steps that you should follow to start a well-written comparative essay.  

Choose a Topic

The foremost step in writing a comparative essay is to choose a suitable topic.

Choose a topic or theme that is interesting to write about and appeals to the reader. 

An interesting essay topic motivates the reader to know about the subject. Also, try to avoid complicated topics for your comparative essay. 

Develop a List of Similarities and Differences 

Create a list of similarities and differences between two subjects that you want to include in the essay. Moreover, this list helps you decide the basis of your comparison by constructing your initial plan. 

Evaluate the list and establish your argument and thesis statement .

Establish the Basis for Comparison 

The basis for comparison is the ground for you to compare the subjects. In most cases, it is assigned to you, so check your assignment or prompt.

Furthermore, the main goal of the comparison essay is to inform the reader of something interesting. It means that your subject must be unique to make your argument interesting.  

Do the Research 

In this step, you have to gather information for your subject. If your comparative essay is about social issues, historical events, or science-related topics, you must do in-depth research.    

However, make sure that you gather data from credible sources and cite them properly in the essay.

Create an Outline

An essay outline serves as a roadmap for your essay, organizing key elements into a structured format.

With your topic, list of comparisons, basis for comparison, and research in hand, the next step is to create a comprehensive outline. 

Here is a standard comparative essay outline:

How to Write a Comparative Essay?

Now that you have the basic information organized in an outline, you can get started on the writing process. 

Here are the essential parts of a comparative essay: 

Comparative Essay Introduction 

Start off by grabbing your reader's attention in the introduction . Use something catchy, like a quote, question, or interesting fact about your subjects. 

Then, give a quick background so your reader knows what's going on. 

The most important part is your thesis statement, where you state the main argument , the basis for comparison, and why the comparison is significant.

This is what a typical thesis statement for a comparative essay looks like:

Comparative Essay Body Paragraphs 

The body paragraphs are where you really get into the details of your subjects. Each paragraph should focus on one thing you're comparing.

Start by talking about the first point of comparison. Then, go on to the next points. Make sure to talk about two to three differences to give a good picture.

After that, switch gears and talk about the things they have in common. Just like you discussed three differences, try to cover three similarities. 

This way, your essay stays balanced and fair. This approach helps your reader understand both the ways your subjects are different and the ways they are similar. Keep it simple and clear for a strong essay.

Comparative Essay Conclusion

In your conclusion , bring together the key insights from your analysis to create a strong and impactful closing.

Consider the broader context or implications of the subjects' differences and similarities. What do these insights reveal about the broader themes or ideas you're exploring?

Discuss the broader implications of these findings and restate your thesis. Avoid introducing new information and end with a thought-provoking statement that leaves a lasting impression.

Below is the detailed comparative essay template format for you to understand better.

Comparative Essay Format

Comparative Essay Examples

Have a look at these comparative essay examples pdf to get an idea of the perfect essay.

Comparative Essay on Summer and Winter

Comparative Essay on Books vs. Movies

Comparative Essay Sample

Comparative Essay Thesis Example

Comparative Essay on Football vs Cricket

Comparative Essay on Pet and Wild Animals

Comparative Essay Topics

Comparative essay topics are not very difficult or complex. Check this list of essay topics and pick the one that you want to write about.

  • How do education and employment compare?
  • Living in a big city or staying in a village.
  • The school principal or college dean.
  • New Year vs. Christmas celebration.
  • Dried Fruit vs. Fresh. Which is better?
  • Similarities between philosophy and religion.
  • British colonization and Spanish colonization.
  • Nuclear power for peace or war?
  • Bacteria or viruses.
  • Fast food vs. homemade food.

Tips for Writing A Good Comparative Essay

Writing a compelling comparative essay requires thoughtful consideration and strategic planning. Here are some valuable tips to enhance the quality of your comparative essay:

  • Clearly define what you're comparing, like themes or characters.
  • Plan your essay structure using methods like point-by-point or block paragraphs.
  • Craft an introduction that introduces subjects and states your purpose.
  • Ensure an equal discussion of both similarities and differences.
  • Use linking words for seamless transitions between paragraphs.
  • Gather credible information for depth and authenticity.
  • Use clear and simple language, avoiding unnecessary jargon.
  • Dedicate each paragraph to a specific point of comparison.
  • Summarize key points, restate the thesis, and emphasize significance.
  • Thoroughly check for clarity, coherence, and correct any errors.

Transition Words For Comparative Essays

Transition words are crucial for guiding your reader through the comparative analysis. They help establish connections between ideas and ensure a smooth flow in your essay. 

Here are some transition words and phrases to improve the flow of your comparative essay:

Transition Words for Similarities

  • Correspondingly
  • In the same vein
  • In like manner
  • In a similar fashion
  • In tandem with

Transition Words for Differences

  • On the contrary
  • In contrast
  • Nevertheless
  • In spite of
  • Notwithstanding
  • On the flip side
  • In contradistinction

Check out this blog listing more transition words that you can use to enhance your essay’s coherence!

In conclusion, now that you have the important steps and helpful tips to write a good comparative essay, you can start working on your own essay. 

However, if you find it tough to begin, you can always hire our professional essay writing service . 

Our skilled writers can handle any type of essay or assignment you need. So, don't wait—place your order now and make your academic journey easier!

Frequently Asked Question

How long is a comparative essay.

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A comparative essay is 4-5 pages long, but it depends on your chosen idea and topic.

How do you end a comparative essay?

Here are some tips that will help you to end the comparative essay.

  • Restate the thesis statement
  • Wrap up the entire essay
  • Highlight the main points

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Barbara P

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Are you ready to challenge your critical thinking skills and take your writing to the next level? Look no further than the exciting world of compare and contrast essays! 

As a college student, you'll have the unique opportunity to delve into the details and differences of a variety of subjects. But don't let the pressure of writing the perfect compare-and-contrast essay weigh you down. 

To help guide you on this journey, we've got some great compare-and-contrast essay examples. It will make the writing process not only manageable but also enjoyable. So grab a pen and paper, and let's get started on this exciting adventure!

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

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Good Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

A compare and contrast essay is all about comparing two subjects. Writing essays is not always easy, but it can be made easier with help from the examples before you write your own first. The examples will give you an idea of the perfect compare-and-contrast essay. 

We have compiled a selection of free compare-and-contrast essay examples that can help you structure this type of essay. 











Don't know how to map out your compare and contrast essay? Visit this link to learn how to perfectly outline your essay!

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples University

Compare and contrast paper is a common assignments for university students. This type of essay tells the reader how two subjects are the same or different from each other. Also, show the points of comparison between the two subjects.

Look at the example that is mentioned below and create a well-written essay.


Compare and Contrast Essay Examples College


Compare and Contrast Essay Examples High School

Compare and contrast essays are often assigned to high school students to help them improve their analytical skills .

In addition, some teachers assign this type of essay because it is a great way for students to improve their analytical and writing skills.



Check out the video below to gain a quick and visual comprehension of what a compare and contrast essay entails.

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples Middle school

In middle school, students have the opportunity to write a compare-and-contrast essay. It does not require an expert level of skills, but it is still a way to improve writing skills.

Middle school students can easily write a compare-and-contrast essay with a little help from examples. We have gathered excellent examples of this essay that you can use to get started.



Literary Analysis Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

The perfect way to inform readers about the pros and cons of two subjects is with a comparison and contrast essay.

It starts by stating the thesis statement, and then you explain why these two subjects are being compared in this essay.

The following is an example that you can use for your help.


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Compare and Contrast Essay Conclusion Example

The conclusion of an essay is the last part, in which you wrap up everything. It should not include a story but rather summarize the whole document so readers have something meaningful they can take away from it.


Struggling to think of the perfect compare-and-contrast essay topic ? Visit this link for a multitude of inspiring ideas.

Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Tips

A compare and contrast essay presents the facts point by point, and mostly, the argumentative essay uses this compared-contrasted technique for its subjects.

If you are looking for some easy and simple tips to craft a perfectly researched and structured compare and contrast essay, we will not disappoint you.

Following are some quick tips that you can keep in mind while writing your essay:

  • Choose the essay topic carefully.
  • Research and brainstorm the points that make them similar and different.
  • Create and add your main statement and claim.
  • Create a Venn diagram and show the similarities and differences.
  • Choose the design through which you will present your arguments and claims.
  • Create compare and contrast essay outline. Use either the block method or the point-by-point structure.
  • Research and add credible supporting evidence.
  • Transitioning is also important. Use transitional words and phrases to engage your readers.
  • Edit, proofread, and revise the essay before submission.

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In conclusion, writing a compare and contrast essay can be an effective way to explore the similarities and differences between two topics. By using examples, it is possible to see the different approaches that can be taken when writing this type of essay. 

Whether you are a student or a professional writer, these examples can provide valuable insight to enhance your writing skills. You can also use our AI-powered essay typer to generate sample essays for your specific topic and subject.

However, if you don’t feel confident in your writing skills, you can always hire our professional essay writer. offer comprehensive essay writing service for students across the globe. Our experts are highly trained and qualified, making sure all of your essays will meet academic requirements while receiving top grades. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do i write a compare and contrast essay.

Here are some steps that you should follow and write a great essay.

  • Begin by brainstorming with a Venn diagram.
  • Create a thesis statement.
  • Develop an outline.
  • Write the introduction.
  • Write the body paragraphs.
  • Write the conclusion.
  • Proofreading.

How do you start a compare and contrast essay introduction?

When writing a compare and contrast essay, it is important to have an engaging introduction that will grab the reader's attention. A good way to do this would be by starting with a question or fact related to the topic to catch their interest.

What are some good compare and contrast essay topics?

Here are some good topics for compare and contrast essay:

  • E-books or textbooks.
  • Anxiety vs. Depression.
  • Vegetables and fruits.
  • Cinnamon vs. sugar.
  • Similarities between cultural and traditional fashion trends.

How long is a compare and contrast essay?

Usually, a compare and contrast essay would consist of five paragraphs but there are no hard and fast rules regarding it. Some essays could be longer than five paragraphs, based on the scope of the topic of the essay.

What are the two methods for arranging a comparison and contrast essay?

The two ways to organize and arrange your compare and contrast essay. The first one is the Point-by-Point method and the second one is the Block method.

Barbara P.

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

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Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay | Tips & Examples

Published on August 6, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

Comparing and contrasting is an important skill in academic writing . It involves taking two or more subjects and analyzing the differences and similarities between them.

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Table of contents

When should i compare and contrast, making effective comparisons, comparing and contrasting as a brainstorming tool, structuring your comparisons, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about comparing and contrasting.

Many assignments will invite you to make comparisons quite explicitly, as in these prompts.

  • Compare the treatment of the theme of beauty in the poetry of William Wordsworth and John Keats.
  • Compare and contrast in-class and distance learning. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

Some other prompts may not directly ask you to compare and contrast, but present you with a topic where comparing and contrasting could be a good approach.

One way to approach this essay might be to contrast the situation before the Great Depression with the situation during it, to highlight how large a difference it made.

Comparing and contrasting is also used in all kinds of academic contexts where it’s not explicitly prompted. For example, a literature review involves comparing and contrasting different studies on your topic, and an argumentative essay may involve weighing up the pros and cons of different arguments.

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As the name suggests, comparing and contrasting is about identifying both similarities and differences. You might focus on contrasting quite different subjects or comparing subjects with a lot in common—but there must be some grounds for comparison in the first place.

For example, you might contrast French society before and after the French Revolution; you’d likely find many differences, but there would be a valid basis for comparison. However, if you contrasted pre-revolutionary France with Han-dynasty China, your reader might wonder why you chose to compare these two societies.

This is why it’s important to clarify the point of your comparisons by writing a focused thesis statement . Every element of an essay should serve your central argument in some way. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish with any comparisons you make, and be sure to make this clear to the reader.

Comparing and contrasting can be a useful tool to help organize your thoughts before you begin writing any type of academic text. You might use it to compare different theories and approaches you’ve encountered in your preliminary research, for example.

Let’s say your research involves the competing psychological approaches of behaviorism and cognitive psychology. You might make a table to summarize the key differences between them.

Or say you’re writing about the major global conflicts of the twentieth century. You might visualize the key similarities and differences in a Venn diagram.

A Venn diagram showing the similarities and differences between World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

These visualizations wouldn’t make it into your actual writing, so they don’t have to be very formal in terms of phrasing or presentation. The point of comparing and contrasting at this stage is to help you organize and shape your ideas to aid you in structuring your arguments.

When comparing and contrasting in an essay, there are two main ways to structure your comparisons: the alternating method and the block method.

The alternating method

In the alternating method, you structure your text according to what aspect you’re comparing. You cover both your subjects side by side in terms of a specific point of comparison. Your text is structured like this:

Mouse over the example paragraph below to see how this approach works.

One challenge teachers face is identifying and assisting students who are struggling without disrupting the rest of the class. In a traditional classroom environment, the teacher can easily identify when a student is struggling based on their demeanor in class or simply by regularly checking on students during exercises. They can then offer assistance quietly during the exercise or discuss it further after class. Meanwhile, in a Zoom-based class, the lack of physical presence makes it more difficult to pay attention to individual students’ responses and notice frustrations, and there is less flexibility to speak with students privately to offer assistance. In this case, therefore, the traditional classroom environment holds the advantage, although it appears likely that aiding students in a virtual classroom environment will become easier as the technology, and teachers’ familiarity with it, improves.

The block method

In the block method, you cover each of the overall subjects you’re comparing in a block. You say everything you have to say about your first subject, then discuss your second subject, making comparisons and contrasts back to the things you’ve already said about the first. Your text is structured like this:

  • Point of comparison A
  • Point of comparison B

The most commonly cited advantage of distance learning is the flexibility and accessibility it offers. Rather than being required to travel to a specific location every week (and to live near enough to feasibly do so), students can participate from anywhere with an internet connection. This allows not only for a wider geographical spread of students but for the possibility of studying while travelling. However, distance learning presents its own accessibility challenges; not all students have a stable internet connection and a computer or other device with which to participate in online classes, and less technologically literate students and teachers may struggle with the technical aspects of class participation. Furthermore, discomfort and distractions can hinder an individual student’s ability to engage with the class from home, creating divergent learning experiences for different students. Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

Note that these two methods can be combined; these two example paragraphs could both be part of the same essay, but it’s wise to use an essay outline to plan out which approach you’re taking in each paragraph.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.

Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .

Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.

You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

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Instructor Resources

Comparative essay.

Compare two or more literary works that we have studied in this class. Your comparative essay should not only compare but also contrast the literary texts, addressing the similarities and differences found within the texts.

Step 1: Identify the Basis for Comparison

Identify the basis of comparison. In other words, what aspect of the literature will you compare? (Theme, tone, point of view, setting, language, etc.)

Step 2: Create a List of Similarities and Differences

Carefully examine the literary texts for similarities and difference using the criteria you identified in step 1.

Step 3: Write a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the author’s educated opinion that can be defended. For a comparative essay, your thesis statement should assert why the similarities and differences between the literary works matter.

Step 4: Create a Structure

Before drafting, create an outline. Your introduction should draw the reader in and provide the thesis statement. The supporting paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement; each topic sentence should then be supported with textual evidence. The conclusion should summarize the essay and prompt the reader to continue thinking about the topic.

Word Count: approximately 1500 words

Outside Sources needed: none (but use plenty of textual evidence)

  • Comparative Essay. License : CC0: No Rights Reserved

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How to Write a Comparison Essay

  • Introduction
  • Essay Outline
  • Expressions For Comparison Essays
  • Sample Comparison 1
  • Sample Comparison 2
  • Guides & Handouts Home
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A comparison essay compares and contrasts two things. That is, it points out the similarities and differences (mostly focusing on the differences) of those two things. The two things usually belong to the same class (ex. two cities, two politicians, two sports, etc.). Relatively equal attention is given to the two subjects being compared. The essay may treat the two things objectively and impartially. Or it may be partial, favoring one thing over the other (ex. "American football is a sissy's game compared to rugby").

The important thing in any comparison essay is that the criteria for comparison should remain the same; that is,  the same attributes should be compared . For example, if you are comparing an electric bulb lamp with a gas lamp, compare them both according to their physical characteristics, their history of development, and their operation.

Narrow Your Focus (in this essay, as in any essay). For example, if you compare two religions, focus on  one  particular aspect which you can discuss in depth and detail, e.g., sin in Buddhism vs. sin in Christianity, or salvation in two religions. Or if your topic is political, you might compare the Conservative attitude to old growth logging vs. the Green Party's attitude to old growth logging, or the Conservative attitude to the Persian Gulf War vs. the NDP attitude to the same war.

Each paragraph should deal with only  one idea  and deal with it  thoroughly . Give  adequate explanation  and  specific examples  to support each idea. The first paragraph introduces the topic, captures the reader's attention, and provides a definite summary of the essay. It may be wise to end the first paragraph with a thesis statement that summarizes the main points of difference (or similarity). For example, "Submarines and warships differ not only in construction, but in their style of weapons and method of attack." This gives the reader a brief outline of your essay, allowing him to anticipate what's to come. Each middle paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that summarizes the main idea of that paragraph (ex. "The musical styles of Van Halen and Steely Dan are as differing in texture as are broken glass and clear water"). An opening sentence like this that uses a  metaphor  or  simile  not only summarizes the paragraph but captures the reader's attention, making him want to read on. Avoid a topic sentence that is too dull and too broad (ex. "There are many differences in the musical styles of Van Halen and Steely Dan").


The  structure  of the comparison essay may vary. You may use  simultaneous comparison structure  in which the two things are compared together, feature by feature, point by point. For example, "The electric light bulb lasts 80 hours, while the gas lamp lasts only 20 hours . . . ." Or as in this example (comparing two American presidents):

Consider how perfectly Harding met the requirements for president. Wilson was a visionary who liked to identify himself with "forward-looking men"; Harding was as old-fashioned as those wooden Indians which used to stand in front of cigar stores, "a flower of the period before safety razors." Harding believed that statemanship had come to its apogee in the days of McKinley and Foraker. Wilson was cold. Harding was an affable small-town man, at ease with "folks"; he was an ideal companion to play poker with all Saturday night. Wilson had always been difficult of access; Harding was accessible to the last degree. etc.

Don't use simultaneous structure all the way through the essay, however. It becomes monotonous. Use it sparingly. For most of the essay, use  parallel order structure .

In  parallel order structure  you compare the two things separately but take up the same points in the same order. For example, you may spend half a paragraph on "thing A" and the other half of the paragraph on the corresponding characteristics of "thing B." Or, if you have enough material, devote one paragraph to the physical characteristics of an electric bulb lamp, and the next paragraph to the physical characteristics of the gas lamp.

Or say everything there is to say about the electric bulb lamp (its physical characteristics, history of development and operation), followed by everything there is to say about the gas lamp.

For the sake of variety  you may switch to simultaneous comparison at one point  in the essay, and then switch back to parallel order structure for the rest of the essay. In fact, there are many ways to structure a comparison essay; use whichever organization works best for your particular paper. Here are a few sample organizational methods. "A" stands for "thing A" (ex. electric lamp) and "B" stands for "thing B" (ex. gas lamp). Each number (1,2,3, etc.) stands for a different aspect of that thing (ex. physical characteristics, operation, history of development).

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Comparing and Contrasting

What this handout is about.

This handout will help you first to determine whether a particular assignment is asking for comparison/contrast and then to generate a list of similarities and differences, decide which similarities and differences to focus on, and organize your paper so that it will be clear and effective. It will also explain how you can (and why you should) develop a thesis that goes beyond “Thing A and Thing B are similar in many ways but different in others.”


In your career as a student, you’ll encounter many different kinds of writing assignments, each with its own requirements. One of the most common is the comparison/contrast essay, in which you focus on the ways in which certain things or ideas—usually two of them—are similar to (this is the comparison) and/or different from (this is the contrast) one another. By assigning such essays, your instructors are encouraging you to make connections between texts or ideas, engage in critical thinking, and go beyond mere description or summary to generate interesting analysis: when you reflect on similarities and differences, you gain a deeper understanding of the items you are comparing, their relationship to each other, and what is most important about them.

Recognizing comparison/contrast in assignments

Some assignments use words—like compare, contrast, similarities, and differences—that make it easy for you to see that they are asking you to compare and/or contrast. Here are a few hypothetical examples:

  • Compare and contrast Frye’s and Bartky’s accounts of oppression.
  • Compare WWI to WWII, identifying similarities in the causes, development, and outcomes of the wars.
  • Contrast Wordsworth and Coleridge; what are the major differences in their poetry?

Notice that some topics ask only for comparison, others only for contrast, and others for both.

But it’s not always so easy to tell whether an assignment is asking you to include comparison/contrast. And in some cases, comparison/contrast is only part of the essay—you begin by comparing and/or contrasting two or more things and then use what you’ve learned to construct an argument or evaluation. Consider these examples, noticing the language that is used to ask for the comparison/contrast and whether the comparison/contrast is only one part of a larger assignment:

  • Choose a particular idea or theme, such as romantic love, death, or nature, and consider how it is treated in two Romantic poems.
  • How do the different authors we have studied so far define and describe oppression?
  • Compare Frye’s and Bartky’s accounts of oppression. What does each imply about women’s collusion in their own oppression? Which is more accurate?
  • In the texts we’ve studied, soldiers who served in different wars offer differing accounts of their experiences and feelings both during and after the fighting. What commonalities are there in these accounts? What factors do you think are responsible for their differences?

You may want to check out our handout on understanding assignments for additional tips.

Using comparison/contrast for all kinds of writing projects

Sometimes you may want to use comparison/contrast techniques in your own pre-writing work to get ideas that you can later use for an argument, even if comparison/contrast isn’t an official requirement for the paper you’re writing. For example, if you wanted to argue that Frye’s account of oppression is better than both de Beauvoir’s and Bartky’s, comparing and contrasting the main arguments of those three authors might help you construct your evaluation—even though the topic may not have asked for comparison/contrast and the lists of similarities and differences you generate may not appear anywhere in the final draft of your paper.

Discovering similarities and differences

Making a Venn diagram or a chart can help you quickly and efficiently compare and contrast two or more things or ideas. To make a Venn diagram, simply draw some overlapping circles, one circle for each item you’re considering. In the central area where they overlap, list the traits the two items have in common. Assign each one of the areas that doesn’t overlap; in those areas, you can list the traits that make the things different. Here’s a very simple example, using two pizza places:

Venn diagram indicating that both Pepper's and Amante serve pizza with unusual ingredients at moderate prices, despite differences in location, wait times, and delivery options

To make a chart, figure out what criteria you want to focus on in comparing the items. Along the left side of the page, list each of the criteria. Across the top, list the names of the items. You should then have a box per item for each criterion; you can fill the boxes in and then survey what you’ve discovered.

Here’s an example, this time using three pizza places:

As you generate points of comparison, consider the purpose and content of the assignment and the focus of the class. What do you think the professor wants you to learn by doing this comparison/contrast? How does it fit with what you have been studying so far and with the other assignments in the course? Are there any clues about what to focus on in the assignment itself?

Here are some general questions about different types of things you might have to compare. These are by no means complete or definitive lists; they’re just here to give you some ideas—you can generate your own questions for these and other types of comparison. You may want to begin by using the questions reporters traditionally ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? If you’re talking about objects, you might also consider general properties like size, shape, color, sound, weight, taste, texture, smell, number, duration, and location.

Two historical periods or events

  • When did they occur—do you know the date(s) and duration? What happened or changed during each? Why are they significant?
  • What kinds of work did people do? What kinds of relationships did they have? What did they value?
  • What kinds of governments were there? Who were important people involved?
  • What caused events in these periods, and what consequences did they have later on?

Two ideas or theories

  • What are they about?
  • Did they originate at some particular time?
  • Who created them? Who uses or defends them?
  • What is the central focus, claim, or goal of each? What conclusions do they offer?
  • How are they applied to situations/people/things/etc.?
  • Which seems more plausible to you, and why? How broad is their scope?
  • What kind of evidence is usually offered for them?

Two pieces of writing or art

  • What are their titles? What do they describe or depict?
  • What is their tone or mood? What is their form?
  • Who created them? When were they created? Why do you think they were created as they were? What themes do they address?
  • Do you think one is of higher quality or greater merit than the other(s)—and if so, why?
  • For writing: what plot, characterization, setting, theme, tone, and type of narration are used?
  • Where are they from? How old are they? What is the gender, race, class, etc. of each?
  • What, if anything, are they known for? Do they have any relationship to each other?
  • What are they like? What did/do they do? What do they believe? Why are they interesting?
  • What stands out most about each of them?

Deciding what to focus on

By now you have probably generated a huge list of similarities and differences—congratulations! Next you must decide which of them are interesting, important, and relevant enough to be included in your paper. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s relevant to the assignment?
  • What’s relevant to the course?
  • What’s interesting and informative?
  • What matters to the argument you are going to make?
  • What’s basic or central (and needs to be mentioned even if obvious)?
  • Overall, what’s more important—the similarities or the differences?

Suppose that you are writing a paper comparing two novels. For most literature classes, the fact that they both use Caslon type (a kind of typeface, like the fonts you may use in your writing) is not going to be relevant, nor is the fact that one of them has a few illustrations and the other has none; literature classes are more likely to focus on subjects like characterization, plot, setting, the writer’s style and intentions, language, central themes, and so forth. However, if you were writing a paper for a class on typesetting or on how illustrations are used to enhance novels, the typeface and presence or absence of illustrations might be absolutely critical to include in your final paper.

Sometimes a particular point of comparison or contrast might be relevant but not terribly revealing or interesting. For example, if you are writing a paper about Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” and Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight,” pointing out that they both have nature as a central theme is relevant (comparisons of poetry often talk about themes) but not terribly interesting; your class has probably already had many discussions about the Romantic poets’ fondness for nature. Talking about the different ways nature is depicted or the different aspects of nature that are emphasized might be more interesting and show a more sophisticated understanding of the poems.

Your thesis

The thesis of your comparison/contrast paper is very important: it can help you create a focused argument and give your reader a road map so they don’t get lost in the sea of points you are about to make. As in any paper, you will want to replace vague reports of your general topic (for example, “This paper will compare and contrast two pizza places,” or “Pepper’s and Amante are similar in some ways and different in others,” or “Pepper’s and Amante are similar in many ways, but they have one major difference”) with something more detailed and specific. For example, you might say, “Pepper’s and Amante have similar prices and ingredients, but their atmospheres and willingness to deliver set them apart.”

Be careful, though—although this thesis is fairly specific and does propose a simple argument (that atmosphere and delivery make the two pizza places different), your instructor will often be looking for a bit more analysis. In this case, the obvious question is “So what? Why should anyone care that Pepper’s and Amante are different in this way?” One might also wonder why the writer chose those two particular pizza places to compare—why not Papa John’s, Dominos, or Pizza Hut? Again, thinking about the context the class provides may help you answer such questions and make a stronger argument. Here’s a revision of the thesis mentioned earlier:

Pepper’s and Amante both offer a greater variety of ingredients than other Chapel Hill/Carrboro pizza places (and than any of the national chains), but the funky, lively atmosphere at Pepper’s makes it a better place to give visiting friends and family a taste of local culture.

You may find our handout on constructing thesis statements useful at this stage.

Organizing your paper

There are many different ways to organize a comparison/contrast essay. Here are two:


Begin by saying everything you have to say about the first subject you are discussing, then move on and make all the points you want to make about the second subject (and after that, the third, and so on, if you’re comparing/contrasting more than two things). If the paper is short, you might be able to fit all of your points about each item into a single paragraph, but it’s more likely that you’d have several paragraphs per item. Using our pizza place comparison/contrast as an example, after the introduction, you might have a paragraph about the ingredients available at Pepper’s, a paragraph about its location, and a paragraph about its ambience. Then you’d have three similar paragraphs about Amante, followed by your conclusion.

The danger of this subject-by-subject organization is that your paper will simply be a list of points: a certain number of points (in my example, three) about one subject, then a certain number of points about another. This is usually not what college instructors are looking for in a paper—generally they want you to compare or contrast two or more things very directly, rather than just listing the traits the things have and leaving it up to the reader to reflect on how those traits are similar or different and why those similarities or differences matter. Thus, if you use the subject-by-subject form, you will probably want to have a very strong, analytical thesis and at least one body paragraph that ties all of your different points together.

A subject-by-subject structure can be a logical choice if you are writing what is sometimes called a “lens” comparison, in which you use one subject or item (which isn’t really your main topic) to better understand another item (which is). For example, you might be asked to compare a poem you’ve already covered thoroughly in class with one you are reading on your own. It might make sense to give a brief summary of your main ideas about the first poem (this would be your first subject, the “lens”), and then spend most of your paper discussing how those points are similar to or different from your ideas about the second.


Rather than addressing things one subject at a time, you may wish to talk about one point of comparison at a time. There are two main ways this might play out, depending on how much you have to say about each of the things you are comparing. If you have just a little, you might, in a single paragraph, discuss how a certain point of comparison/contrast relates to all the items you are discussing. For example, I might describe, in one paragraph, what the prices are like at both Pepper’s and Amante; in the next paragraph, I might compare the ingredients available; in a third, I might contrast the atmospheres of the two restaurants.

If I had a bit more to say about the items I was comparing/contrasting, I might devote a whole paragraph to how each point relates to each item. For example, I might have a whole paragraph about the clientele at Pepper’s, followed by a whole paragraph about the clientele at Amante; then I would move on and do two more paragraphs discussing my next point of comparison/contrast—like the ingredients available at each restaurant.

There are no hard and fast rules about organizing a comparison/contrast paper, of course. Just be sure that your reader can easily tell what’s going on! Be aware, too, of the placement of your different points. If you are writing a comparison/contrast in service of an argument, keep in mind that the last point you make is the one you are leaving your reader with. For example, if I am trying to argue that Amante is better than Pepper’s, I should end with a contrast that leaves Amante sounding good, rather than with a point of comparison that I have to admit makes Pepper’s look better. If you’ve decided that the differences between the items you’re comparing/contrasting are most important, you’ll want to end with the differences—and vice versa, if the similarities seem most important to you.

Our handout on organization can help you write good topic sentences and transitions and make sure that you have a good overall structure in place for your paper.

Cue words and other tips

To help your reader keep track of where you are in the comparison/contrast, you’ll want to be sure that your transitions and topic sentences are especially strong. Your thesis should already have given the reader an idea of the points you’ll be making and the organization you’ll be using, but you can help them out with some extra cues. The following words may be helpful to you in signaling your intentions:

  • like, similar to, also, unlike, similarly, in the same way, likewise, again, compared to, in contrast, in like manner, contrasted with, on the contrary, however, although, yet, even though, still, but, nevertheless, conversely, at the same time, regardless, despite, while, on the one hand … on the other hand.

For example, you might have a topic sentence like one of these:

  • Compared to Pepper’s, Amante is quiet.
  • Like Amante, Pepper’s offers fresh garlic as a topping.
  • Despite their different locations (downtown Chapel Hill and downtown Carrboro), Pepper’s and Amante are both fairly easy to get to.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Comparative Essays

Writing a comparison usually requires that you assess the similarities and differences between two or more theories, procedures, or processes. You explain to your reader what insights can be gained from the comparison, or judge whether one thing is better than another according to established criteria.

How to Write a Comparative Essay

1. Establish a basis of comparison 

A basis of comparison represents the main idea, category, or theme you will investigate. You will have to do some preliminary reading, likely using your course materials, to get an idea of what kind of criteria you will use to assess whatever you are comparing. A basis of comparison must apply to all items you are comparing, but the details will be different. 

For example, if you are asked to “compare neoclassical architecture and gothic architecture,” you could compare the influence of social context on the two styles.  

2. Gather the details of whatever you are comparing 

Once you have decided what theme or idea you are investigating, you will need to gather details of whatever you are comparing, especially in terms of similarities and differences. Doing so allows you to see which criteria you should use in your comparison, if not specified by your professor or instructor. 

  • Appeal to Greek perfection
  • Formulaic and mathematical
  • Appeal to emotion
  • Towers and spires
  • Wild and rustic
  • Civic buildings

Based on this information, you could focus on how ornamentation and design principles reveal prevailing intellectual thought about architecture in the respective eras and societies.

3. Develop a thesis statement 

After brainstorming, try to develop a thesis statement that identifies the results of your comparison. Here is an example of a fairly common thesis statement structure: 

e.g., Although neoclassical architecture and gothic architecture have [similar characteristics A and B], they reveal profound differences in their interpretation of [C, D, and E]. 

4. Organize your comparison  

You have a choice of two basic methods for organizing a comparative essay: the point-by-point method or the block method.  

The point-by-point method examines one aspect of comparison in each paragraph and usually alternates back and forth between the two objects, texts, or ideas being compared. This method allows you to emphasize points of similarity and of difference as you proceed. 

In the block method, however, you say everything you need to say about one thing, then do the same thing with the other. This method works best if you want readers to understand and agree with the advantages of something you are proposing, such as introducing a new process or theory by showing how it compares to something more traditional.

Sample Outlines for Comparative Essays on Neoclassical and Gothic Architecture 

Building a point-by-point essay.

Using the point-by-point method in a comparative essay allows you to draw direct comparisons and produce a more tightly integrated essay.

1. Introduction

  • Introductory material
  • Thesis: Although neoclassical and gothic architecture are both western European forms that are exemplified in civic buildings and churches, they nonetheless reveal through different structural design and ornamentation, the different intellectual principles of the two societies that created them.

2. Body Sections/Paragraphs

  • Ornamentation in Text 1
  • Ornamentation in Text 2
  • Major appeal in Text 1
  • Major appeal in Text 2
  • Style in Text 1
  • Style in Text 2

3. Conclusion

  • Why this comparison is important?
  • What does this comparison tell readers?

Building a Block Method Essay

Using the block method in a comparative essay can help ensure that the ideas in the second block build upon or extend ideas presented in the first block. It works well if you have three or more major areas of comparison instead of two (for example, if you added in a third or fourth style of architecture, the block method would be easier to organize).

  • Thesis: The neoclassical style of architecture was a conscious rejection of the gothic style that had dominated in France at the end of the middle ages; it represented a desire to return to the classical ideals of Greece and Rome.
  • History and development
  • Change from earlier form
  • Social context of new form
  • What does the comparison reveal about architectural development?
  • Why is this comparison important?

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5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

A compare and contrast essay selects two or more items that are critically analyzed to demonstrate their differences and similarities. Here is a template for you that provides the general structure:

compare and contrast essay format

A range of example essays is presented below.

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

#1 jean piaget vs lev vygotsky essay.

1480 Words | 5 Pages | 10 References

(Level: University Undergraduate)

paget vs vygotsky essay

Thesis Statement: “This essay will critically examine and compare the developmental theories of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, focusing on their differing views on cognitive development in children and their influence on educational psychology, through an exploration of key concepts such as the role of culture and environment, scaffolding, equilibration, and their overall implications for educational practices..”

#2 Democracy vs Authoritarianism Essay

democracy vs authoritarianism essay

Thesis Statement: “The thesis of this analysis is that, despite the efficiency and control offered by authoritarian regimes, democratic systems, with their emphasis on individual freedoms, participatory governance, and social welfare, present a more balanced and ethically sound approach to governance, better aligned with the ideals of a just and progressive society.”

#3 Apples vs Oranges Essay

1190 Words | 5 Pages | 0 References

(Level: 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade)

apples vs oranges essay

Thesis Statement: “While apples and oranges are both popular and nutritious fruits, they differ significantly in their taste profiles, nutritional benefits, cultural symbolism, and culinary applications.”

#4 Nature vs Nurture Essay

1525 Words | 5 Pages | 11 References

(Level: High School and College)

nature vs nurture essay

Thesis Statement: “The purpose of this essay is to examine and elucidate the complex and interconnected roles of genetic inheritance (nature) and environmental influences (nurture) in shaping human development across various domains such as physical traits, personality, behavior, intelligence, and abilities.”

#5 Dogs vs Cats Essay

1095 Words | 5 Pages | 7 Bibliographic Sources

(Level: 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade)

Thesis Statement: “This essay explores the distinctive characteristics, emotional connections, and lifestyle considerations associated with owning dogs and cats, aiming to illuminate the unique joys and benefits each pet brings to their human companions.”

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

I’ve recorded a full video for you on how to write a compare and contrast essay:

Get the Compare and Contrast Templates with AI Prompts Here

In the video, I outline the steps to writing your essay. Here they are explained below:

1. Essay Planning

First, I recommend using my compare and contrast worksheet, which acts like a Venn Diagram, walking you through the steps of comparing the similarities and differences of the concepts or items you’re comparing.

I recommend selecting 3-5 features that can be compared, as shown in the worksheet:

compare and contrast worksheet

Grab the Worksheet as Part of the Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Pack

2. Writing the Essay

Once you’ve completed the worksheet, you’re ready to start writing. Go systematically through each feature you are comparing and discuss the similarities and differences, then make an evaluative statement after showing your depth of knowledge:

compare and contrast essay template

Get the Rest of the Premium Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Pack (With AI Prompts) Here

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement

Compare and contrast thesis statements can either:

  • Remain neutral in an expository tone.
  • Prosecute an argument about which of the items you’re comparing is overall best.

To write an argumentative thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay, try this AI Prompts:

💡 AI Prompt to Generate Ideas I am writing a compare and contrast essay that compares [Concept 1] and [Concept2]. Give me 5 potential single-sentence thesis statements that pass a reasonable judgement.

Ready to Write your Essay?

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Take action! Choose one of the following options to start writing your compare and contrast essay now:

Read Next: Process Essay Examples

compare and contrast examples and definition

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How to Write a Comparative Essay

Last Updated: May 19, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,682,553 times.

Perhaps you have been assigned a comparative essay in class, or need to write a comprehensive comparative report for work. In order to write a stellar comparative essay, you have to start off by picking two subjects that have enough similarities and differences to be compared in a meaningful way, such as two sports teams or two systems of government. Once you have that, then you have to find at least two or three points of comparison and use research, facts, and well-organized paragraphs to impress and captivate your readers. Writing the comparative essay is an important skill that you will use many times throughout your scholastic career.

Comparative Essay Outline and Example

comparative essay sample introduction

How to Develop the Essay Content

Step 1 Analyze the question or essay prompt carefully.

  • Many comparative essay assignments will signal their purpose by using words such as "compare," "contrast," "similarities," and "differences" in the language of the prompt.
  • Also see whether there are any limits placed on your topic.

Step 2 Understand the type of comparison essay you are being asked to write.

  • The assignment will generally ask guiding questions if you are expected to incorporate comparison as part of a larger assignment. For example: "Choose a particular idea or theme, such as love, beauty, death, or time, and consider how two different Renaissance poets approach this idea." This sentence asks you to compare two poets, but it also asks how the poets approach the point of comparison. In other words, you will need to make an evaluative or analytical argument about those approaches.
  • If you're unclear on what the essay prompt is asking you to do, talk with your instructor. It's much better to clarify questions up front than discover you've written the entire essay incorrectly.

Step 3 List similarities and differences between the items you are comparing.

  • The best place to start is to write a list of things that the items you are comparing have in common as well as differences between them. [3] X Research source

Step 4 Evaluate your list to find your argument.

  • You may want to develop a system such as highlighting different types of similarities in different colors, or use different colours if you are using an electronic device.
  • For example, if you are comparing two novels, you may want to highlight similarities in characters in pink, settings in blue, and themes or messages in green.

Step 5 Establish the basis for your comparison.

  • The basis for your comparison may be assigned to you. Be sure to check your assignment or prompt.
  • A basis for comparison may have to do with a theme, characteristics, or details about two different things. [7] X Research source
  • A basis for comparison may also be known as the “grounds” for comparison or a frame of reference.
  • Keep in mind that comparing 2 things that are too similar makes it hard to write an effective paper. The goal of a comparison paper is to draw interesting parallels and help the reader realize something interesting about our world. This means your subjects must be different enough to make your argument interesting.

Step 6 Research your subjects of comparison.

  • Research may not be required or appropriate for your particular assignment. If your comparative essay is not meant to include research, you should avoid including it.
  • A comparative essay about historical events, social issues, or science-related topics are more likely to require research, while a comparison of two works of literature are less likely to require research.
  • Be sure to cite any research data properly according to the discipline in which you are writing (eg, MLA, APA, or Chicago format).

Step 7 Develop a thesis statement.

  • Your thesis needs to make a claim about your subjects that you will then defend in your essay. It's good for this claim to be a bit controversial or up for interpretation, as this allows you to build a good argument.

How to Organize the Content

Step 1 Outline your comparison.

  • Use a traditional outline form if you would like to, but even a simple list of bulleted points in the order that you plan to present them would help.
  • You can also write down your main points on sticky notes (or type them, print them, and then cut them out) so that you can arrange and rearrange them before deciding on a final order.

Step 2 Use a mixed paragraphs method.

  • The advantages of this structure are that it continually keeps the comparison in the mind of the reader and forces you, the writer, to pay equal attention to each side of the argument.
  • This method is especially recommended for lengthy essays or complicated subjects where both the writer and reader can easily become lost. For Example: Paragraph 1: Engine power of vehicle X / Engine power of vehicle Y Paragraph 2: Stylishness of vehicle X / Stylishness of vehicle Y Paragraph 3: Safety rating of vehicle X / Safety rating of vehicle Y

Step 3 Alternate the subjects in each paragraph.

  • The advantages of this structure are that it allows you to discuss points in greater detail and makes it less jarring to tackle two topics that radically different.
  • This method is especially recommended for essays where some depth and detail are required. For example: Paragraph 1: Engine power of vehicle X Paragraph 2: Engine power of vehicle Y Paragraph 3: Stylishness of vehicle X Paragraph 4: Stylishness of vehicle Y Paragraph 5: Safety rating of vehicle X Paragraph 6: Safety rating of vehicle Y

Step 4 Cover one subject at a time thoroughly.

  • This method is by far the most dangerous, as your comparison can become both one-sided and difficult for the reader to follow.
  • This method is only recommended for short essays with simplistic subjects that the reader can easily remember as (s)he goes along. For example: Paragraph 1: Engine power of vehicle X Paragraph 2: Stylishness of vehicle X Paragraph 3: Safety rating of vehicle X Paragraph 4: Engine power of vehicle Y Paragraph 5: Stylishness of vehicle Y Paragraph 6: Safety rating of vehicle Y

How to Write the Essay

Step 1 Write your essay out of order.

  • Body paragraphs first . Work through all that information you've been compiling and see what kind of story it tells you. Only when you've worked with your data will you know what the larger point of the paper is.
  • Conclusion second . Now that you've done all the heavy lifting, the point of your essay should be fresh in your mind. Strike while the iron’s hot. Start your conclusion with a restatement of your thesis.
  • Intro last . Open your introduction with a "hook" to grab the reader's attention. Since you've already written your essay, choose a hook that reflects what you will talk about, whether it's a quote, statistic, factoid, rhetorical question, or anecdote. Then, write 1-2 sentences about your topic, narrowing down to your thesis statement, which completes your introduction.

Step 2 Write the body paragraphs.

  • Organize your paragraphs using one of the approaches listed in the "Organizing the Content" part below. Once you have defined your points of comparison, choose the structure for the body paragraphs (where your comparisons go) that makes the most sense for your data. To work out all the organizational kinks, it’s recommended that you write an outline as a placeholder.
  • Be very careful not to address different aspects of each subject. Comparing the color of one thing to the size of another does nothing to help the reader understand how they stack up. [15] X Research source

Step 3 Write the conclusion...

  • Be aware that your various comparisons won’t necessarily lend themselves to an obvious conclusion, especially because people value things differently. If necessary, make the parameters of your argument more specific. (Ex. “Though X is more stylish and powerful, Y’s top safety ratings make it a more appropriate family vehicle .”)
  • When you have two radically different topics, it sometimes helps to point out one similarity they have before concluding. (i.e. "Although X and Y don't seem to have anything in common, in actuality, they both ....”)

Step 4 Write the introduction...

  • Even the best writers know editing is important to produce a good piece. Your essay will not be your best effort unless you revise it.
  • If possible, find a friend to look over the essay, as he or she may find problems that you missed.
  • It sometimes helps to increase or decrease the font size while editing to change the visual layout of the paper. Looking at the same thing for too long makes your brain fill in what it expects instead of what it sees, leaving you more likely to overlook errors.

Expert Q&A

Christopher Taylor, PhD

  • The title and introduction really catch the reader's attention and make them read the essay. Make sure you know how to write a catchy essay title . Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1
  • Quotes should be used sparingly and must thoroughly complement the point they are being used to exemplify/justify. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 2
  • The key principle to remember in a comparative paragraph or essay is that you must clarify precisely what you are comparing and keep that comparison alive throughout the essay. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 2

comparative essay sample introduction

  • Avoid vague language such as "people," "stuff," "things," etc. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
  • Avoid, at all costs, the conclusion that the two subjects are "similar, yet different." This commonly found conclusion weakens any comparative essay, because it essentially says nothing about the comparison. Most things are "similar, yet different" in some way. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
  • Some believe that an "unbalanced" comparison - that is, when the essay focuses predominantly on one of the two issues, and gives less importance to the other - is weaker, and that writers should strive for 50/50 treatment of the texts or issues being examined. Others, however, value emphasis in the essay that reflects the particular demands of the essay's purpose or thesis. One text may simply provide context, or historical/artistic/political reference for the main text, and therefore need not occupy half of the essay's discussion or analysis. A "weak" essay in this context would strive to treat unequal texts equally, rather than strive to appropriately apportion space to the relevant text. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
  • Beware of the "Frying Pan Conclusion" in which you simply recount everything that was said in the main body of the essay. While your conclusion should include a simple summary of your argument, it should also emphatically state the point in a new and convincing way, one which the reader will remember clearly. If you can see a way forward from a problem or dilemma, include that as well. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1

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About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a comparative essay, start by writing an introduction that introduces the 2 subjects you'll be comparing. You should also include your thesis statement in the introduction, which should state what you've concluded based on your comparisons. Next, write the body of your essay so that each paragraph focuses on one point of comparison between your subjects. Finally, write a conclusion that summarizes your main points and draws a larger conclusion about the two things you compared. To learn how to do research for your essay, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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The Comparative Essay

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What is a comparative essay?

A comparative essay asks that you compare at least two (possibly more) items. These items will differ depending on the assignment. You might be asked to compare

  • positions on an issue (e.g., responses to midwifery in Canada and the United States)
  • theories (e.g., capitalism and communism)
  • figures (e.g., GDP in the United States and Britain)
  • texts (e.g., Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth )
  • events (e.g., the Great Depression and the global financial crisis of 2008–9)

Although the assignment may say “compare,” the assumption is that you will consider both the similarities and differences; in other words, you will compare and contrast.

Make sure you know the basis for comparison

The assignment sheet may say exactly what you need to compare, or it may ask you to come up with a basis for comparison yourself.

  • Provided by the essay question: The essay question may ask that you consider the figure of the gentleman in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall . The basis for comparison will be the figure of the gentleman.
  • Developed by you: The question may simply ask that you compare the two novels. If so, you will need to develop a basis for comparison, that is, a theme, concern, or device common to both works from which you can draw similarities and differences.

Develop a list of similarities and differences

Once you know your basis for comparison, think critically about the similarities and differences between the items you are comparing, and compile a list of them.

For example, you might decide that in Great Expectations , being a true gentleman is not a matter of manners or position but morality, whereas in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall , being a true gentleman is not about luxury and self-indulgence but hard work and productivity.

The list you have generated is not yet your outline for the essay, but it should provide you with enough similarities and differences to construct an initial plan.

Develop a thesis based on the relative weight of similarities and differences

Once you have listed similarities and differences, decide whether the similarities on the whole outweigh the differences or vice versa. Create a thesis statement that reflects their relative weights. A more complex thesis will usually include both similarities and differences. Here are examples of the two main cases:

While Callaghan’s “All the Years of Her Life” and Mistry’s “Of White Hairs and Cricket” both follow the conventions of the coming-of-age narrative, Callaghan’s story adheres more closely to these conventions by allowing its central protagonist to mature. In Mistry’s story, by contrast, no real growth occurs.
Although Darwin and Lamarck came to different conclusions about whether acquired traits can be inherited, they shared the key distinction of recognizing that species evolve over time.

Come up with a structure for your essay

Note that the French and Russian revolutions (A and B) may be dissimilar rather than similar in the way they affected innovation in any of the three areas of technology, military strategy, and administration. To use the alternating method, you just need to have something noteworthy to say about both A and B in each area. Finally, you may certainly include more than three pairs of alternating points: allow the subject matter to determine the number of points you choose to develop in the body of your essay.

When do I use the block method? The block method is particularly useful in the following cases:

  • You are unable to find points about A and B that are closely related to each other.
  • Your ideas about B build upon or extend your ideas about A.
  • You are comparing three or more subjects as opposed to the traditional two.

Zulie Writes

How to Write a Comparison Essay From Start to Finish

Ah, how well I remember the panicked days of frantically googling  “How to write a comparison essay?” and "what is a comparative essay"??" and even in my darkest moments, “what is an essay????”

Also called a comparative essay or a contrast essay , this type of essay is a kind of academic writing where you, the author, analyze any similarity or difference between two subjects. 

These can be ideas, people, events, books, concepts, or other pretty much anything. The main point purpose of a compare and contrast essay is to shed light on the subjects and provide clarity on their relative characteristics.

Usually, you get assigned these as a student, or as a college essay assignment. But sometimes you have a professional writing reason to write them: perhaps writing research paper, maybe as a reviewer or a critic, or if you're a journalist or an academic. It's also a common essay prompt in exams. 

They are actually one of my favorite types of essay writing because they involve a lot of research and giving opinions– which I adore doing.

Let's dive into exactly how to write one of these essays, step by step. For the sake of illustration, I'll be using the essay topic of contrasting and comparing my two cats, Astrid and Chumbo, as an example. 

comparative essay sample introduction

How sweet are these two!

Step Zero: Laying the groundwork: Pick two topics

(You can skip this if you already have topics selected.)

Part of the fun of any good research paper is selecting what you're going to compare and contrast. These are your main two goals:

Stay on target 

Make sure you're not trying to compare apples to oranges. 

The subjects you choose to compare should be relevant to the context or purpose of your essay. If you're writing for a literature class, pick two novels, or two characters. If you're in biology class, pick two separate evolutionary theories or two famous researchers. 

Your subjects don't have to be identical, but they should have enough in common to warrant a comparison – hence the essay. For instance, comparing two different genres of music can be insightful, but comparing music to a type of food might be too disparate unless you have a very specific and unique angle in mind.

Tip: I find it useful to outline my essay before I start my writing process, just to make sure I'll have enough to compare and contrast on. If you're hesitating, go ahead and follow the steps in an essay outline format, rather than writing the whole thing.

If you're really struggling, you can use a Venn diagram to visually understand the difference and similarities between your topics before writing anything. 

Step One: Begin at the beginning

Every essay needs an introduction, and a compare and contrast essay is no different. Your comparative essay introduction should include:

An introduction of each topic. Briefly explain to your reader what each topic is. 

A thesis statement . This is where you'll spoil the ending and explain which of the two topics you prefer best, and why, or explain why you're comparing or contrasting the two topics. 

For example, my essay introduction could be something like:

“Since getting my two cats, Astrid and Chumbo, people have often asked me which my favorite is. Astrid is smaller, more cuddly, but also more anxious. Conversely, Chumbo is large and in charge – but not as affectionate.  In this essay, I'll compare and contrast the two cats.” 

The first sentence is my thesis statement, and the next statement shows a brief intro of each topic for my contrast essay.

Writing a good thesis statement

Your main goals: be clear, tell your readers what they should take away from all your research, and be the heart of your essay.

Here are some examples:

Both Darwin's theory of evolution and Lamarck's theory of evolution provide insights into the development of species, but they differ fundamentally in their explanations of trait inheritance.

While both '1984' by George Orwell and 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley depict dystopian futures, they differ significantly in their portrayal of individual freedom and the means of societal control.

You can see that these are specific, direct, and let you build on these to draft your contrast essay to completion.

Step Two: Research time.

I remember when I first wrote my very first contrast essay. We were assigned to write a comparison between sea and tree octopodi.

Hilariously, if you google Tree Octopus, you do get a hit. But it's all fake information, created to help teach students not to rely on everything they read on Google (or ChatGPT, more probably in these days). 

For your important textual evidence – AKA the specific details, quotes, facts, or information from a text (like a book, article, or document) that you use to support the details in your essay – you want something a little more reliable. 

Where will you find the information you need for this contrast essay? Here are my three tips to stay sharp and make sure you're only writing based on real, trustworthy info:

Start with Scholarly Databases: Platforms like Google Scholar, JSTOR, or PubMed have loads of academic papers and articles. 

Use Libraries: Physical and online libraries have curated collections of books, journals, and more. Librarians are also an excellent resource to ask for help or direction.

Evaluate Online Sources: Not all online sources are created equal (as we've seen). Check the author's credentials, the publication date, and the reputation of the website or publication. 

Step Three: Pick your poison. 

Luckily for you, there are two pretty widely accepted methods of writing a comparative essay: the Block Method and the Point-by-Point Method. 

Block Method

With this method of writing, each of your two topics gets its own contrasting section, or block. You'll first write a sentence introducing your two topics, like, “In this essay, I will compare and contrast Astrid and Chumbo.” 

This is known as your topic sentence .

Then, dig into Topic A, detail by detail, each housed in a body paragraph. After that, you'll explore your second subject, by the same points, paragraph by paragraph. 

For example, my contrast essay could compare Astrid and Chumbo like this:

Topic A: Astrid.

Physical appearance: slender, long, orange and white fur, pink nose

Personality: nervous, goblin-like, cuddly

Likes and dislikes: Loves tuna, cuddles. Hates being alone, dogs.

Topic B: Chumbo

Physical appearance: chunky, floofy, big

Personality: friendly, clownish.

Likes and dislikes: Loves chicken, going outside. Hates rain.

You can see how I contrast the two topics by section.

By contrast, a point-by-point essay is structured by individual points, rather than topic. Each paragraph should cover one argument for both topics.

For example, in my hypothetical Astrid vs Chumbo compare and contrast essay, I might structure it like this: 

Item A: Physical appearance

Astrid: slender, long, orange and white fur, pink nose

Chumbo: chunky, floofy, big

Item B: Personality…

And so on for each point. This allows you to highlight each similarity and difference, even very subtle differences, to better effect.

When should you use each type of essay structure?

Each essay type has its place, though I prefer the PbP method almost always for an entire essay, and only use the Block Method if I'm including a section on differences inside a difference kind of essay, such as a reflective essay or a narrative essay. For lengthy essays, the PbP is clearest.

P-b-p method:

Use this one for deeper, more detailed essays where you don't want your reader losing track of where they are in a longer paragraph.

Here's a contrast essay example that uses this method on Netflix vs Hulu. 

Block method: 

By comparison, use this one when you want to compare things on a more casual level, or if you're only writing a short section to contrast two topics. 

Here's a contrast essay that uses the block method, looking at the difference between certain drugs.

Step Four: The comparison or contrast touches

One of the criterion of writing that distinguishes this essay from other kinds are the transitional words used throughout.

Here's a list of some of the best transition words to use:

Comparison Transition Words:

in comparison

in the same way


in a similar manner

"Astrid is a very loyal cat, in that she never leaves my side. Comparably , Chumbo is not as physically snuggly, but he will almost always be in the same room as me."

Contrast Transition Words :

in contrast

on the contrary

on the other hand

“In terms of size, Chumbo is a hefty 22.4 pounds, whereas Astrid is a daintier 12.3 pounds.”

Step Five: Bring it home.

Last but not least, you'll want to write a comparative essay conclusion repeating either your learned opinion on the better of the two, or explaining what the reader should take away.

Normally, writers find it easiest to simply reword their thesis statement, highlight some of the most compelling reasons why, and call it a day.  

“In conclusion, Astrid and Chumbo are both superb cats, each with their own merits. Astrid is snugglier and more affectionate, while Chumbo is the more handsome of the two, and has a goofier personality.” 

There should not be any new information in the conclusion. 

And you're done! You've written your essay like an absolute champ. Hand it in and congratulate yourself on a job very well done. 

FAQ Section

Still have questions? Here's the FAQ section.

How long should a comparison essay be?

As long as it needs to be! If you're in high school, it's probably on the shorter end - 300 to 500 words or so. If you're in college, it's probably closer to 1000-2000 words. If it's a professional assignment, you (or your boss) knows better than me.

Can I compare more than two topics in one essay?

Certainly. For the block method, just add another block, repeating the same items per block. For the PbP method, simply include the information on your third (or nth) topic per point.

What if I can't find enough similarities or differences?

Then that means you either haven't done enough research, or you didn't pick good topics. Go back to the drawing board, dig through some more papers or articles on the subject, and try again. 

comparative essay sample introduction

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  • Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast


This section will help you determine the purpose and structure of comparison/contrast in writing.

The Purpose of Compare/Contrast in Writing

Comparison in writing discusses elements that are similar, while contrast in writing discusses elements that are different. A compare-and-contrast essay, then, analyzes two subjects by comparing them, contrasting them, or both.

The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. The purpose of conducting the comparison or contrast is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities. For example, if you wanted to focus on contrasting two subjects you would not pick apples and oranges; rather, you might choose to compare and contrast two types of oranges or two types of apples to highlight subtle differences. For example, Red Delicious apples are sweet, while Granny Smiths are tart and acidic. Drawing distinctions between elements in a similar category will increase the audience’s understanding of that category, which is the purpose of the compare-and-contrast essay.

Similarly, to focus on comparison, choose two subjects that seem at first to be unrelated. For a comparison essay, you likely would not choose two apples or two oranges because they share so many of the same properties already. Rather, you might try to compare how apples and oranges are quite similar. The more divergent the two subjects initially seem, the more interesting a comparison essay will be.

The Structure of a Compare/Contrast Essay

The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both and the reason for doing so. The thesis could lean more toward comparing, contrasting, or both. Remember, the point of comparing and contrasting is to provide useful knowledge to the reader. Take the following thesis as an example that leans more toward contrasting:

Thesis Statement: Organic vegetables may cost more than those that are conventionally grown, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny.

Here the thesis sets up the two subjects to be compared and contrasted (organic versus conventional vegetables), and it makes a claim about the results that might prove useful to the reader.

You may organize compare-and-contrast essays in one of the following two ways:

  • According to the subjects themselves, discussing one then the other
  • According to individual points, discussing each subject in relation to each point

The organizational structure you choose depends on the nature of the topic, your purpose, and your audience.

Given that compare-and-contrast essays analyze the relationship between two subjects, it is helpful to have some phrases on hand that will cue the reader to such analysis.

Phrases of Comparison and Contrast

Writing an Compare/Contrast Essay

First choose whether you want to compare seemingly disparate subjects, contrast seemingly similar subjects, or compare and contrast subjects. Once you have decided on a topic, introduce it with an engaging opening paragraph. Your thesis should come at the end of the introduction, and it should establish the subjects you will compare, contrast, or both as well as state what can be learned from doing so.

The body of the essay can be organized in one of two ways: by subject or by individual points. The organizing strategy that you choose will depend on, as always, your audience and your purpose. You may also consider your particular approach to the subjects as well as the nature of the subjects themselves; some subjects might better lend themselves to one structure or the other. Make sure to use comparison and contrast phrases to cue the reader to the ways in which you are analyzing the relationship between the subjects.

After you finish analyzing the subjects, write a conclusion that summarizes the main points of the essay and reinforces your thesis.

Compare/Contrast Essay Example

Comparing and Contrasting London and Washington, DC

By Scott McLean in Writing for Success

Both Washington, DC, and London are capital cities of English-speaking countries, and yet they offer vastly different experiences to their residents and visitors. Comparing and contrasting the two cities based on their history, their culture, and their residents show how different and similar the two are.

Both cities are rich in world and national history, though they developed on very different time lines. London, for example, has a history that dates back over two thousand years. It was part of the Roman Empire and known by the similar name, Londinium. It was not only one of the northernmost points of the Roman Empire but also the epicenter of the British Empire where it held significant global influence from the early sixteenth century on through the early twentieth century. Washington, DC, on the other hand, has only formally existed since the late eighteenth century. Though Native Americans inhabited the land several thousand years earlier, and settlers inhabited the land as early as the sixteenth century, the city did not become the capital of the United States until the 1790s. From that point onward to today, however, Washington, DC, has increasingly maintained significant global influence. Even though both cities have different histories, they have both held, and continue to hold, significant social influence in the economic and cultural global spheres.

Both Washington, DC, and London offer a wide array of museums that harbor many of the world’s most prized treasures. While Washington, DC, has the National Gallery of Art and several other Smithsonian galleries, London’s art scene and galleries have a definite edge in this category. From the Tate Modern to the British National Gallery, London’s art ranks among the world’s best. This difference and advantage has much to do with London and Britain’s historical depth compared to that of the United States. London has a much richer past than Washington, DC, and consequently has a lot more material to pull from when arranging its collections. Both cities have thriving theater districts, but again, London wins this comparison, too, both in quantity and quality of theater choices. With regard to other cultural places like restaurants, pubs, and bars, both cities are very comparable. Both have a wide selection of expensive, elegant restaurants as well as a similar amount of global and national chains. While London may be better known for its pubs and taste in beer, DC offers a different bar-going experience. With clubs and pubs that tend to stay open later than their British counterparts, the DC night life tend to be less reserved overall.

Both cities also share and differ in cultural diversity and cost of living. Both cities share a very expensive cost of living—both in terms of housing and shopping. A downtown one-bedroom apartment in DC can easily cost $1,800 per month, and a similar “flat” in London may double that amount. These high costs create socioeconomic disparity among the residents. Although both cities’ residents are predominantly wealthy, both have a significantly large population of poor and homeless. Perhaps the most significant difference between the resident demographics is the racial makeup. Washington, DC, is a “minority majority” city, which means the majority of its citizens are races other than white. In 2009, according to the US Census, 55 percent of DC residents were classified as “Black or African American” and 35 percent of its residents were classified as “white.” London, by contrast, has very few minorities—in 2006, 70 percent of its population was “white,” while only 10 percent was “black.” The racial demographic differences between the cities is drastic.

Even though Washington, DC, and London are major capital cities of English-speaking countries in the Western world, they have many differences along with their similarities. They have vastly different histories, art cultures, and racial demographics, but they remain similar in their cost of living and socioeconomic disparity.


  • A compare-and-contrast essay analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both.
  • The purpose of writing a comparison or contrast essay is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities between two subjects.
  • The thesis should clearly state the subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both, and it should state what is to be learned from doing so.
  • There are two main organizing strategies for compare-and-contrast essays.
  • Organize by the subjects themselves, one then the other.
  • Organize by individual points, in which you discuss each subject in relation to each point.
  • Use phrases of comparison or phrases of contrast to signal to readers how exactly the two subjects are being analyzed.
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  • Successful Writing. Provided by : Anonymous. Located at : . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Comparing and Contrasting London and Washington, DC. Authored by : Scott McLean. Located at : . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Table of Contents

Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)

  • Overview of Instructor Resources

An Overview of the Writing Process

  • Introduction to the Writing Process
  • Introduction to Writing
  • Your Role as a Learner
  • What is an Essay?
  • Reading to Write
  • Defining the Writing Process
  • Videos: Prewriting Techniques
  • Thesis Statements
  • Organizing an Essay
  • Creating Paragraphs
  • Conclusions
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
  • Peer Review Checklist
  • Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies

Using Sources

  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
  • Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
  • APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines

Definition Essay

  • Definitional Argument Essay
  • How to Write a Definition Essay
  • Critical Thinking
  • Video: Thesis Explained
  • Effective Thesis Statements
  • Student Sample: Definition Essay

Narrative Essay

  • Introduction to Narrative Essay
  • Student Sample: Narrative Essay
  • "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
  • "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
  • Video: The Danger of a Single Story
  • How to Write an Annotation
  • How to Write a Summary
  • Writing for Success: Narration

Illustration/Example Essay

  • Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
  • "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
  • "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
  • Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
  • Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay

Compare/Contrast Essay

  • Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
  • "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
  • "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
  • "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
  • Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay

Cause-and-Effect Essay

  • Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
  • "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
  • Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
  • Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay

Argument Essay

  • Introduction to Argument Essay
  • Rogerian Argument
  • "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
  • "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
  • How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
  • Writing for Success: Argument
  • Student Sample: Argument Essay
  • Grammar/Mechanics Mini-lessons
  • Mini-lesson: Subjects and Verbs, Irregular Verbs, Subject Verb Agreement
  • Mini-lesson: Sentence Types
  • Mini-lesson: Fragments I
  • Mini-lesson: Run-ons and Comma Splices I
  • Mini-lesson: Comma Usage
  • Mini-lesson: Parallelism
  • Mini-lesson: The Apostrophe
  • Mini-lesson: Capital Letters
  • Grammar Practice - Interactive Quizzes
  • De Copia - Demonstration of the Variety of Language
  • Style Exercise: Voice
  • Grades 6-12
  • School Leaders

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34 Compelling Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Topics cover education, technology, pop culture, sports, animals, and more.

comparative essay sample introduction

Do your writers need some inspiration? If you’re teaching students to write a compare and contrast essay, a strong example is an invaluable tool. This round-up of our favorite compare and contrast essays covers a range of topics and grade levels, so no matter your students’ interests or ages, you’ll always have a helpful example to share. You’ll find links to full essays about education, technology, pop culture, sports, animals, and more. (Need compare-and-contrast essay topic ideas? Check out our big list of compare and contrast essay topics! )

What is a compare and contrast essay?

  • Education and parenting essays
  • Technology essays
  • Pop culture essays
  • Historical and political essays
  • Sports essays
  • Lifestyle essays
  • Healthcare essays
  • Animal essays

When choosing a compare and contrast essay example to include on this list, we considered the structure. A strong compare and contrast essay begins with an introductory paragraph that includes background context and a strong thesis. Next, the body includes paragraphs that explore the similarities and differences. Finally, a concluding paragraph restates the thesis, draws any necessary inferences, and asks any remaining questions.

A compare and contrast essay example can be an opinion piece comparing two things and making a conclusion about which is better. For example, “Is Tom Brady really the GOAT?” It can also help consumers decide which product is better suited to them. Should you keep your subscription to Hulu or Netflix? Should you stick with Apple or explore Android? Here’s our list of compare and contrast essay samples categorized by subject.

Education and Parenting Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Private school vs. public school.

Sample lines: “Deciding whether to send a child to public or private school can be a tough choice for parents. … Data on whether public or private education is better can be challenging to find and difficult to understand, and the cost of private school can be daunting. … According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, public schools still attract far more students than private schools, with 50.7 million students attending public school as of 2018. Private school enrollment in the fall of 2017 was 5.7 million students, a number that is down from 6 million in 1999.”

Read the full essay: Private School vs. Public School at U.S. News and World Report

Homeschool vs. Public School: How Home Schooling Will Change Public Education

Homeschool vs. Public School: How Home Schooling Will Change Public Education

Sample lines: “Home schooling, not a present threat to public education, is nonetheless one of the forces that will change it. If the high estimates of the number of children in home schools (1.2 million) is correct, then the home-schooling universe is larger than the New York City public school system and roughly the size of the Los Angeles and Chicago public school systems combined. … Critics charge that three things are wrong with home schooling: harm to students academically; harm to society by producing students who are ill-prepared to function as democratic citizens and participants in a modern economy; and harm to public education, making it more difficult for other parents to educate their children. … It is time to ask whether home schooling, charters, and vouchers should be considered parts of a broad repertoire of methods that we as a society use to educate our children.”

Read the full essay: Homeschool vs. Public School: How Home Schooling Will Change Public Education at Brookings

Which parenting style is right for you?

Sample lines: “The three main types of parenting are on a type of ‘sliding scale’ of parenting, with permissive parenting as the least strict type of parenting. Permissive parenting typically has very few rules, while authoritarian parenting is thought of as a very strict, rule-driven type of parenting.”

Read the full essay: What Is Authoritative Parenting? at Healthline

Masked Education? The Benefits and Burdens of Wearing Face Masks in Schools During the Pandemic

Sample lines: “Face masks can prevent the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2. … However, covering the lower half of the face reduces the ability to communicate. Positive emotions become less recognizable, and negative emotions are amplified. Emotional mimicry, contagion, and emotionality in general are reduced and (thereby) bonding between teachers and learners, group cohesion, and learning—of which emotions are a major driver. The benefits and burdens of face masks in schools should be seriously considered and made obvious and clear to teachers and students.”

Read the full essay: Masked Education? The Benefits and Burdens of Wearing Face Masks in Schools During the Pandemic at National Library of Medicine

To Ban or Not: What Should We Really Make of Book Bans?

To Ban or Not: What Should We Really Make of Book Bans?

Sample lines: “In recent years, book bans have soared in schools, reaching an all-time high in fall 2022. … The challenge of balancing parent concerns about ‘age appropriateness’ against the imperative of preparing students to be informed citizens is still on the minds of many educators today. … Such curricular decision-making  should  be left to the professionals, argues English/language arts instructional specialist Miriam Plotinsky. ‘Examining texts for their appropriateness is not a job that noneducators are trained to do,’ she wrote last year, as the national debate over censorship resurged with the news that a Tennessee district banned the graphic novel  Maus  just days before Holocaust Remembrance Day.”

Read the full essay: To Ban or Not: What Should We Really Make of Book Bans? at Education Week

Technology Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Netflix vs. hulu 2023: which is the best streaming service.

Sample lines: “Netflix fans will point to its high-quality originals, including  The Witcher ,  Stranger Things ,  Emily in Paris ,  Ozark , and more, as well as a wide variety of documentaries like  Cheer ,  The Last Dance ,  My Octopus Teacher , and many others. It also boasts a much larger subscription base, with more than 222 million subscribers compared to Hulu’s 44 million. Hulu, on the other hand, offers a variety of extras such as HBO and Showtime—content that’s unavailable on Netflix. Its price tag is also cheaper than the competition, with its $7/mo. starting price, which is a bit more palatable than Netflix’s $10/mo. starting price.”

Read the full essay: Netflix vs. Hulu 2023: Which is the best streaming service? at TV Guide

Kindle vs. Hardcover: Which is easier on the eyes?

Kindle vs. Hardcover: Which is easier on the eyes?

Sample lines: “In the past, we would have to drag around heavy books if we were really into reading. Now, we can have all of those books, and many more, stored in one handy little device that can easily be stuffed into a backpack, purse, etc. … Many of us still prefer to hold an actual book in our hands. … But, whether you use a Kindle or prefer hardcover books or paperbacks, the main thing is that you enjoy reading. A story in a book or on a Kindle device can open up new worlds, take you to fantasy worlds, educate you, entertain you, and so much more.”

Read the full essay: Kindle vs. Hardcover: Which is easier on the eyes? at Books in a Flash

iPhone vs. Android: Which is better for you?

Sample lines: “The iPhone vs. Android comparison is a never-ending debate on which one is best. It will likely never have a real winner, but we’re going to try and help you to find your personal pick all the same. iOS 17 and Android 14—the latest versions of the two operating systems—both offer smooth and user-friendly experiences, and several similar or identical features. But there are still important differences to be aware of. … Owning an iPhone is a simpler, more convenient experience. There’s less to think about. … Android-device ownership is a bit harder. … Yet it’s simultaneously more freeing, because it offers more choice.”

Read the full essay: iPhone vs. Android: Which is better for you? at Tom’s Guide

Cutting the cord: Is streaming or cable better for you?

Sample lines: “Cord-cutting has become a popular trend in recent years, thanks to the rise of streaming services. For those unfamiliar, cord cutting is the process of canceling your cable subscription and instead, relying on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu to watch your favorite shows and movies. The primary difference is that you can select your streaming services à la carte while cable locks you in on a set number of channels through bundles. So, the big question is: should you cut the cord?”

Read the full essay: Cutting the cord: Is streaming or cable better for you? at BroadbandNow

PS5 vs. Nintendo Switch

PS5 vs. Nintendo Switch

Sample lines: “The crux of the comparison comes down to portability versus power. Being able to migrate fully fledged Nintendo games from a big screen to a portable device is a huge asset—and one that consumers have taken to, especially given the Nintendo Switch’s meteoric sales figures. … It is worth noting that many of the biggest franchises like Call of Duty, Madden, modern Resident Evil titles, newer Final Fantasy games, Grand Theft Auto, and open-world Ubisoft adventures like Assassin’s Creed will usually skip Nintendo Switch due to its lack of power. The inability to play these popular games practically guarantees that a consumer will pick up a modern system, while using the Switch as a secondary device.”

Read the full essay: PS5 vs. Nintendo Switch at Digital Trends

What is the difference between Facebook and Instagram?

Sample lines: “Have you ever wondered what is the difference between Facebook and Instagram? Instagram and Facebook are by far the most popular social media channels used by digital marketers. Not to mention that they’re also the biggest platforms used by internet users worldwide. So, today we’ll look into the differences and similarities between these two platforms to help you figure out which one is the best fit for your business.”

Read the full essay: What is the difference between Facebook and Instagram? at SocialBee

Digital vs. Analog Watches—What’s the Difference?

Sample lines: “In short, digital watches use an LCD or LED screen to display the time. Whereas, an analog watch features three hands to denote the hour, minutes, and seconds. With the advancement in watch technology and research, both analog and digital watches have received significant improvements over the years. Especially in terms of design, endurance, and accompanying features. … At the end of the day, whether you go analog or digital, it’s a personal preference to make based on your style, needs, functions, and budget.”

Read the full essay: Digital vs. Analog Watches—What’s the Difference? at Watch Ranker

AI Art vs. Human Art: A Side-by-Side Analysis

Sample lines: “Art has always been a reflection of human creativity, emotion, and cultural expression. However, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), a new form of artistic creation has emerged, blurring the lines between what is created by human hands and what is generated by algorithms. … Despite the excitement surrounding AI Art, it also raises complex ethical, legal, and artistic questions that have sparked debates about the definition of art, the role of the artist, and the future of art production. … Regardless of whether AI Art is considered ‘true’ art, it is crucial to embrace and explore the vast possibilities and potential it brings to the table. The transformative influence of AI art on the art world is still unfolding, and only time will reveal its true extent.”

Read the full essay: AI Art vs. Human Art: A Side-by-Side Analysis at Raul Lara

Pop Culture Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Christina aguilera vs. britney spears.

Christina Aguilera vs. Britney Spears- compare and contrast essay example

Sample lines: “Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera was the Coke vs. Pepsi of 1999 — no, really, Christina repped Coke and Britney shilled for Pepsi. The two teen idols released debut albums seven months apart before the turn of the century, with Britney’s becoming a standard-bearer for bubblegum pop and Aguilera’s taking an R&B bent to show off her range. … It’s clear that Spears and Aguilera took extremely divergent paths following their simultaneous breakout successes.”

Read the full essay: Christina Aguilera vs. Britney Spears at The Ringer

Harry Styles vs. Ed Sheeran

Sample lines: “The world heard our fantasies and delivered us two titans simultaneously—we have been blessed with Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles. Our cup runneth over; our bounty is immeasurable. More remarkable still is the fact that both have released albums almost at the same time: Ed’s third, Divide , was released in March and broke the record for one-day Spotify streams, while Harry’s frenziedly anticipated debut solo, called Harry Styles , was released yesterday.”

Read the full essay: Harry Styles versus Ed Sheeran at Belfast Telegraph

The Grinch: Three Versions Compared

Sample lines: “Based on the original story of the same name, this movie takes a completely different direction by choosing to break away from the cartoony form that Seuss had established by filming the movie in a live-action form. Whoville is preparing for Christmas while the Grinch looks down upon their celebrations in disgust. Like the previous film, The Grinch hatches a plan to ruin Christmas for the Who’s. … Like in the original Grinch, he disguises himself as Santa Claus, and makes his dog, Max, into a reindeer. He then takes all of the presents from the children and households. … Cole’s favorite is the 2000 edition, while Alex has only seen the original. Tell us which one is your favorite.”

Read the full essay: The Grinch: Three Versions Compared at Wooster School

Historical and Political Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Malcolm x vs. martin luther king jr.: comparison between two great leaders’ ideologies .

Sample lines: “Although they were fighting for civil rights at the same time, their ideology and way of fighting were completely distinctive. This can be for a plethora of reasons: background, upbringing, the system of thought, and vision. But keep in mind, they devoted their whole life to the same prospect. … Through boycotts and marches, [King] hoped to end racial segregation. He felt that the abolition of segregation would improve the likelihood of integration. Malcolm X, on the other hand, spearheaded a movement for black empowerment.”

Read the full essay: Malcolm X vs. Martin Luther King Jr.: Comparison Between Two Great Leaders’ Ideologies  at Melaninful

Contrast Between Obama and Trump Has Become Clear

Contrast Between Obama and Trump Has Become Clear

Sample lines: “The contrast is even clearer when we look to the future. Trump promises more tax cuts, more military spending, more deficits and deeper cuts in programs for the vulnerable. He plans to nominate a coal lobbyist to head the Environmental Protection Agency. … Obama says America must move forward, and he praises progressive Democrats for advocating Medicare for all. … With Obama and then Trump, Americans have elected two diametrically opposed leaders leading into two very different directions.”

Read the full essay: Contrast Between Obama and Trump Has Become Clear at Chicago Sun-Times

Sports Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Lebron james vs. kobe bryant: a complete comparison.

Sample lines: “LeBron James has achieved so much in his career that he is seen by many as the greatest of all time, or at least the only player worthy of being mentioned in the GOAT conversation next to Michael Jordan. Bridging the gap between Jordan and LeBron though was Kobe Bryant, who often gets left out of comparisons and GOAT conversations. … Should his name be mentioned more though? Can he compare to LeBron or is The King too far past The Black Mamba in historical rankings already?”

Read the full essay: LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant: A Complete Comparison at Sportskeeda

NFL: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Rivalry Comparison

NFL: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Rivalry Comparison

Sample lines: “Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were largely considered the best quarterbacks in the NFL for the majority of the time they spent in the league together, with the icons having many head-to-head clashes in the regular season and on the AFC side of the NFL Playoffs. Manning was the leader of the Indianapolis Colts of the AFC South. … Brady spent his career as the QB of the AFC East’s New England Patriots, before taking his talents to Tampa Bay. … The reality is that winning is the most important aspect of any career, and Brady won more head-to-head matchups than Manning did.”

Read the full essay: NFL: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Rivalry Comparison at Sportskeeda

The Greatest NBA Franchise Ever: Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers?

Sample lines: “The Celtics are universally considered as the greatest franchise in NBA history. But if you take a close look at the numbers, there isn’t really too much separation between them and their arch-rival Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, you can even make a good argument for the Lakers. … In 72 seasons played, the Boston Celtics have won a total of 3,314 games and lost 2,305 or a .590 winning mark. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Lakers have won 3,284 of 5,507 total games played or a slightly better winning record of .596. … But while the Lakers have the better winning percentage, the Celtics have the advantage over them in head-to-head competition.”

Read the full essay: The Greatest NBA Franchise Ever: Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers? at Sport One

Is Soccer Better Than Football?

Sample lines: “Is soccer better than football? Soccer and football lovers have numerous reasons to support their sport of choice. Both keep the players physically fit and help to bring people together for an exciting cause. However, soccer has drawn more numbers globally due to its popularity in more countries.”

Read the full essay: Is Soccer Better Than Football? at Sports Brief

Lifestyle Choices Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Mobile home vs. tiny house: similarities, differences, pros & cons.

Mobile Home vs. Tiny House: Similarities, Differences, Pros & Cons

Sample lines: “Choosing the tiny home lifestyle enables you to spend more time with those you love. The small living space ensures quality bonding time rather than hiding away in a room or behind a computer screen. … You’ll be able to connect closer to nature and find yourself able to travel the country at any given moment. On the other hand, we have the mobile home. … They are built on a chassis with transportation in mind. … They are not built to be moved on a constant basis. … While moving the home again *is* possible, it may cost you several thousand dollars.”

Read the full essay: Mobile Home vs. Tiny House: Similarities, Differences, Pros & Cons at US Mobile Home Pros

Whole Foods vs. Walmart: The Story of Two Grocery Stores

Sample lines: “It is clear that both stores have very different stories and aims when it comes to their customers. Whole Foods looks to provide organic, healthy, exotic, and niche products for an audience with a very particular taste. … Walmart, on the other hand, looks to provide the best deals, every possible product, and every big brand for a broader audience. … Moreover, they look to make buying affordable and accessible, and focus on the capitalist nature of buying.”

Read the full essay: Whole Foods vs. Walmart: The Story of Two Grocery Stores at The Archaeology of Us

Artificial Grass vs. Turf: The Real Differences Revealed

Sample lines: “The key difference between artificial grass and turf is their intended use. Artificial turf is largely intended to be used for sports, so it is shorter and tougher. On the other hand, artificial grass is generally longer, softer and more suited to landscaping purposes. Most homeowners would opt for artificial grass as a replacement for a lawn, for example. Some people actually prefer playing sports on artificial grass, too … artificial grass is often softer and more bouncy, giving it a feel similar to playing on a grassy lawn. … At the end of the day, which one you will choose will depend on your specific household and needs.”

Read the full essay: Artificial Grass vs. Turf: The Real Differences Revealed at Almost Grass

Minimalism vs. Maximalism: Differences, Similarities, and Use Cases

Minimalism vs. Maximalism: Differences, Similarities, and Use Cases- compare and contrast essay example

Sample lines: “Maximalists love shopping, especially finding unique pieces. They see it as a hobby—even a skill—and a way to express their personality. Minimalists don’t like shopping and see it as a waste of time and money. They’d instead use those resources to create memorable experiences. Maximalists desire one-of-a-kind possessions. Minimalists are happy with duplicates—for example, personal uniforms. … Minimalism and maximalism are about being intentional with your life and belongings. It’s about making choices based on what’s important to you.”

Read the full essay: Minimalism vs. Maximalism: Differences, Similarities, and Use Cases at Minimalist Vegan

Vegetarian vs. Meat Eating: Is It Better To Be a Vegetarian?

Sample lines: “You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and ‘magically’ lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall? … Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure  and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease. But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!”

Read the full essay: Vegetarian vs. Meat Eating: Is It Better To Be a Vegetarian? at WebMD

Healthcare Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Similarities and differences between the health systems in australia & usa.

Sample lines: “Australia and the United States are two very different countries. They are far away from each other, have contrasting fauna and flora, differ immensely by population, and have vastly different healthcare systems. The United States has a population of 331 million people, compared to Australia’s population of 25.5 million people.”

Read the full essay: Similarities and Differences Between the Health Systems in Australia & USA at Georgia State University

Universal Healthcare in the United States of America: A Healthy Debate

Universal Healthcare in the United States of America: A Healthy Debate

Sample lines: “Disadvantages of universal healthcare include significant upfront costs and logistical challenges. On the other hand, universal healthcare may lead to a healthier populace, and thus, in the long-term, help to mitigate the economic costs of an unhealthy nation. In particular, substantial health disparities exist in the United States, with low socio-economic status segments of the population subject to decreased access to quality healthcare and increased risk of non-communicable chronic conditions such as obesity and type II diabetes, among other determinants of poor health.”

Read the full essay: Universal Healthcare in the United States of America: A Healthy Debate at National Library of Medicine

Pros and Cons of Physician Aid in Dying

Sample lines: “Physician aid in dying is a controversial subject raising issues central to the role of physicians. … The two most common arguments in favor of legalizing AID are respect for patient autonomy and relief of suffering. A third, related, argument is that AID is a safe medical practice, requiring a health care professional. … Although opponents of AID offer many arguments ranging from pragmatic to philosophical, we focus here on concerns that the expansion of AID might cause additional, unintended harm through suicide contagion, slippery slope, and the deaths of patients suffering from depression.”

Read the full essay: Pros and Cons of Physician Aid in Dying at National Library of Medicine

Animals Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Compare and contrast paragraph—dogs and cats.

Compare and Contrast Paragraph—Dogs and Cats- compare and contrast essay example

Sample lines: “Researchers have found that dogs have about twice the number of neurons in their cerebral cortexes than what cats have. Specifically, dogs had around 530 million neurons, whereas the domestic cat only had 250 million neurons. Moreover, dogs can be trained to learn and respond to our commands, but although your cat understands your name, and anticipates your every move, he/she may choose to ignore you.”

Read the full essay: Compare and Contrast Paragraph—Dogs and Cats at Proofwriting Guru via YouTube

Giddyup! The Differences Between Horses and Dogs

Sample lines: “Horses are prey animals with a deep herding instinct. They are highly sensitive to their environment, hyper aware, and ready to take flight if needed. Just like dogs, some horses are more confident than others, but just like dogs, all need a confident handler to teach them what to do. Some horses are highly reactive and can be spooked by the smallest things, as are dogs. … Another distinction between horses and dogs … was that while dogs have been domesticated , horses have been  tamed. … Both species have influenced our culture more than any other species on the planet.”

Read the full essay: Giddyup! The Differences Between Horses and Dogs at Positively Victoria Stilwell

Exotic, Domesticated, and Wild Pets

Sample lines: “Although the words ‘exotic’ and ‘wild’ are frequently used interchangeably, many people do not fully understand how these categories differ when it comes to pets. ‘A wild animal is an indigenous, non-domesticated animal, meaning that it is native to the country where you are located,’ Blue-McLendon explained. ‘For Texans, white-tailed deer, pronghorn sheep, raccoons, skunks, and bighorn sheep are wild animals … an exotic animal is one that is wild but is from a different continent than where you live.’ For example, a hedgehog in Texas would be considered an exotic animal, but in the hedgehog’s native country, it would be considered wildlife.”

Read the full essay: Exotic, Domesticated, and Wild Pets at Texas A&M University

Should Zoos Be Banned? Pros & Cons of Zoos

Should Zoos Be Banned? Pros & Cons of Zoos

Sample lines: “The pros and cons of zoos often come from two very different points of view. From a legal standard, animals are often treated as property. That means they have less rights than humans, so a zoo seems like a positive place to maintain a high quality of life. For others, the forced enclosure of any animal feels like an unethical decision. … Zoos provide a protected environment for endangered animals, and also help in raising awareness and funding for wildlife initiatives and research projects. … Zoos are key for research. Being able to observe and study animals is crucial if we want to contribute to help them and repair the ecosystems. … Zoos are a typical form of family entertainment, but associating leisure and fun with the contemplation of animals in captivity can send the wrong signals to our children.”

Read the full essay: Should Zoos Be Banned? Pros & Cons of Zoos at EcoCation

Do you have a favorite compare and contrast essay example? Come share in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, if you liked these compare and contrast essay examples check out intriguing compare and contrast essay topics for kids and teens ..

A good compare and contrast essay example, like the ones here, explores the similarities and differences between two or more subjects.

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The Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative

May 8, 2019

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Updated 14/07/2022

  • What Is a Comparative?
  • What Are You Expected To Cover? (Comparative Criteria)
  • School Assessed Coursework (SAC), Exams and Allocated Marks
  • How To Prepare for Your Comparative SAC and Exam
  • How To Write a Comparative Essay

1. What Is a Comparative?

Comparative is also known as 'Reading and Comparing', 'Comparative Essay' and less frequently, 'Compare and Contrast'. For our purposes, we'll just stick to 'Comparative'.

As its name may indicate, a Comparative is when you analyse and write on two texts, comparing their similarities and differences. In VCE, there are 8 pairs of texts Year 12s can choose from (or more accurately, your school chooses for you!). The most popular combination of texts include novels and films, however, plays also make it onto the list.

When you start doing Comparative at school, you will move through your texts just as you have for Text Response (except...instead of one text it's actually two) - from watching the film and/or reading the novel, participating in class discussions about similar and different themes and ideas, and finally, submitting one single essay based on the two texts. So yep, if you've only just gotten your head around Text Response, VCAA likes to throw a spanner in the works to keep you on your toes!

But, don't worry. The good news is all of your Text Response learning is applicable to VCE’s Comparative, and it's really not as hard as it might first appear. Here's a video I created introducing Comparative ( I've time-stamped it to start at 0:55 - when the Comparative section starts - thank me later! ).

‍ 2. What Are You Expected To Cover? (Comparative Criteria)

What are teachers and examiners expecting to see in your essays? Below are the VCE criteria for Comparative essays (sourced from the VCAA English examination page ).

Note: Some schools may express the following points differently, however, they should all boil down to the same points - what is necessary in a Comparative essay.

a) Knowledge and understanding of both texts, and the ideas and issues they present

Society, history and culture all shape and influence us in our beliefs and opinions. Authors use much of what they’ve obtained from the world around them and employ this knowledge to their writing. Understanding their values embodied in texts can help us, as readers, identify and appreciate theme and character representations.

For example: Misogyny is widespread in both Photograph 51 and The Penelopiad , and both writers explore the ways in which females deal with such an environment. Photograph 51 is set in the 1950s when women begun to enter the workforce, whereas The Penelopiad is set in Ancient Greece, a period when women were less likely to speak out against discrimination.

b) Discussion of meaningful connections, similarities or differences between the texts, in response to the topic;

More about this later in 4. How To Prepare for Your Comparative SAC and Exam, Step 2: Understand both your texts - as a pair (below) .

c) Use of textual evidence to support the comparative analysis

While you should absolutely know how to embed quotes in your essay like a boss , you want to have other types of evidence in your Comparative essay. You must discuss how the author uses the form that he/she is writing in to develop their discussion. This encompasses a huge breadth of things from metaphors to structure to language.

For example: "The personification of Achilles as ‘wolf, a violator of every law of men and gods', illustrates his descent from human to animal..." or "Malouf’s constant use of the present voice and the chapter divisions allow the metaphor of time to demonstrate the futility and omnipresence of war..."

To learn more about metalanguage, read our What Is Metalanguage? post.

d) Control and effectiveness of language use, as appropriate to the task.

When examiners read essays, they are expected to get through about 12-15 essays in an hour! This results in approximately 5 minutes to read, get their head around, and grade your essay - not much time at all! It is so vital that you don’t give the examiner an opportunity to take away marks because they have to reread certain parts of your essay due to poor expression and grammar.

3. School Assessed Coursework (SAC), Exams and Allocated Marks

Comparative is the first Area of Study (AoS 1) in Unit 2 (Year 11) and Unit 4 (Year 12) - meaning that majority of students will tackle the Comparative SAC in Term 3. The number of allocated marks are:

  • Unit 2 – dependant on school
  • Unit 4 – 60 marks (whopper!)

The time allocated to your SAC is school-based. Schools often use one or more periods combined, depending on how long each of your periods last. Teachers can ask you to write anywhere from 900 to 1200 words for your essay (keep in mind that it’s about quality, not quantity!)

In your exam, you get a whopping total of 3 hours to write 3 essays ( Text Response , Comparative, and Language Analysis ). The general guide is 60 minutes on Comparative, however, it is up to you exactly how much time you decide to dedicate to this section of the exam. Your Comparative essay will be graded out of 10 by two different examiners. Your two unique marks from these examiners will be combined, with 20 as the highest possible mark.

comparative essay sample introduction

4. How To Prepare for Your Comparative SAC and Exam

Preparation is a vital component in how you perform in your SACs and exam so it’s always a good idea to find out what is your best way to approach assessments. This is just to get you thinking about the different study methods you can try before a SAC. Here are my top strategies (ones I actually used in VCE) for Comparative preparation that can be done any time of year (including holidays - see How To Recharge Your Motivation Over the School Holidays for more tips):

Step 1: Understand each text - individually

This doesn’t mean reading/watching your texts a specific amount of times (though twice is usually a recommended minimum), but rather, coming to an understanding of your texts. Besides knowing important sections, quotes, themes and characters (which are still important and which you should definitely know), here are some other matters which are also necessary to consider:

  • Why has it been chosen by VCAA (out of literally millions of other books)?
  • Why are you reading it (especially if it’s an old text, and how it’s still important throughout the ages)?
  • Why did the author write it?
  • What kind of social commentary exists within the text (especially on specific issues and themes)?

These kinds of questions are important because quite often in this area of study, you’ll be defending and interpreting your own ideas alongside the author’s. When you find a solid interpretation of the text as a whole, then no essay topic will really throw you off - because you’ll know already what you think about it. Moreover, because you’re comparing two texts in this section, understanding a text and being specific (e.g. 'both texts argue that equality is important' vs. 'while both texts A and B agree with the notion of equality, A focuses on ____ whereas B highlights  ____') will help your writing improve in sophistication and depth.

If you need any more tips on how to learn your texts in-depth, Susan's (English study score 50) Steps for Success in Text Study guide provides a clear pathway for how to approach your texts and is a must read for VCE English students!

And, if you're studying texts you hate (ugh!), you'll also want to check out Lavinia's guide which teaches you how to do well even when you hate your texts .

Step 2: Understand both your texts - as a pair

Avoid simply drawing connections between the texts which are immediately obvious. When writing a Comparative, the key strategy that'll help you stand out from the crowd is the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy . I discuss this in more detail below, under 'eBooks'.

We'll use George Orwell's Animal Farm and Shakespeare's Macbeth as an example ( don't worry if you haven't studied either of these texts, it's just to prove a point ). The most obvious connection simply from reading the plot is that both Napoleon and Macbeth are powerful leaders. However, you want to start asking yourself more questions to develop an insightful comparison between the two men:

For example: In Macbeth and Animal Farm a common theme is power

Q: How do they achieve power?

A: In Animal Farm , Napoleon is sly about his intentions and slowly secures his power with clever manipulation and propaganda. However , Shakespeare’s Macbeth adopts very different methods as he uses violence and abuse to secure his power.

Q: How do they maintain power?

A: Both Napoleon and Macbeth are tyrants who go to great length to protect their power. They believe in killing or chasing away anyone who undermines their power.

Q: What is the effect of power on the two characters?

A: While Macbeth concentrates on Macbeth’s growing guilty conscience and his gradual deterioration to insanity, Animal Farm offers no insight into Napoleon’s stream of consciousness. Instead, George Orwell focuses on the pain and suffering of the animals under Napoleon’s reign. This highlights Shakespeare’s desire to focus on the inner conflict of a man, whereas Orwell depicted the repercussions of a totalitarian regime on those under its ruling.

Check out our comparative scene analysis of The Longest Memory & The 7 Stages of Grieving for another example of understanding texts as a pair!

Step 3: Know your comparative words

Having a list of comparative words will help you understand your texts as a pair, and helps make your life easier when you start writing your essays. Here's a list we've compiled below:


  • Additionally
  • At the same time
  • Correspondingly
  • Furthermore
  • In addition
  • In parallel


  • Compared to
  • Despite that
  • Even though
  • In contrast
  • Nevertheless
  • On the contrary
  • On the other hand
  • Nonetheless

Feel free to download the PDF version of this list for your own studies as well!

Step 4: Understand the construction of your texts

Besides comparing ideas and themes, and having an understanding of what the text says, it’s also imperative that you understand HOW the texts say it. This type of analysis focuses on metalanguage (also known as literary devices or literary techniques). When you get technical with this and focus on metalanguage, it brings out more depth in your writing.

You could start asking yourself:

  • What kind of description is used?
  • What kind of sentences are used?
  • Are they long and winding or rather short and bare?
  • Are they dripping with adjectives or snappy?
  • What is the structure of the text?
  • Does one begin with a prologue/end with an epilogue?
  • Is the text continuous or divided e.g. through letters or days or parts?
  • Does the text end at a climax or end with a true finality?
  • What reoccurs throughout the text? (specific lines, symbols or images)

These kinds of understanding are important as they are evidentiary material for your arguments. What you say and believe the authors have said, as well as how you believe the texts differ, may rely heavily on these techniques. You'd then translate this analysis to develop your arguments further in your essay. For example:

His depiction of Chapel serves as a subversion of the conventional type of slave; he is 'half a slave, half the master' and belongs to 'another way of life'. His defiance and rebellion against the dictations of society is exemplified through his speech, which consists of rhythmic and poetic couplets, filled with flowery language; which ultimately challenges the idea of illiterate slaves.

Step 5: Read and watch Lisa's Study Guides' resources

Doing this study all by yourself can be rather daunting, so we've got your back. We specialise in supporting VCE English students by creating helpful videos, study guides and ebooks. Here are some just to get your started:

YouTube Videos

We create general study advice videos like this:

We also create Comparative pair-specific videos:

If you prefer learning through videos, check out our entire YouTube channel (and don't forget to subscribe for regular new videos!).

Study Guides

Our awesome team of English high-achievers have written up study guides based on popular VCE texts. Here's a compilation of all the ones we've covered so far including current and older text pairs:

Bombshells and The Penelopiad

I Am Malala and Pride

Reckoning and The Namesake

Reckoning and The Namesake (Quote Analysis)

Ransom and Invictus

Ransom and The Queen

Stasiland and 1984

Stasiland and Never Let Me Go

Stasiland and Never Let Me Go (yes this is a different guide to the one above!)

The Crucible and The Dressmaker

The Crucible and The Dressmaker (Understanding Context)

The Crucible and Year of Wonders

The Hate Race and Charlie's Country

The Longest Memory and Black Diggers

The Longest Memory and The 7 Stages of Grieving

The Penelopiad and Photograph 51

Tracks and Charlie's Country

Tracks and Into the Wild

Tip: You can download and save the study guides for your own study use! How good is that?

comparative essay sample introduction

And if that isn't enough, I'd highly recommend my How To Write A Killer Comparative ebook. What's often the most difficult part of Comparative is finding the right examples and evidence to ensure that you're standing out against hundreds of other students studying VCE.

Unlike Text Response where there are over 30 texts for schools to choose from, Comparative only has 8 pairs of texts. This means that the likelihood of other students studying the same texts as you is much higher. And what does that mean?

It means that your competition is going to be even tougher. It's likely the character or quote you plan to use will also be used by other students. So, this means that there needs to be a way for you to differentiate yourself. Enter my golden CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy .

This strategy can be used for any example you wish to use, but by approaching your example with the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT mindset, you'll immediately be able to establish a unique perspective that should earn you some bonus marks.

If you've ever had a teacher tell you that you needed to ‘elaborate’, ‘go into more detail’, or ‘more analysis’ needed in your essays - this strategy will help eliminate all those criticisms. It will also show your teacher how you are comfortable writing an in-depth analysis using fewer examples, rather than trying to overload your essay with as many examples as possible because you barely have anything to say about each one.

To learn more about the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy, get a free preview of this study guide on the Shop page or at the bottom of this blog.

Step 6: Brainstorm and write plans

Once you've done some preliminary revision, it's time to write plans! Plans will help ensure you stick to your essay topic, and have a clear outline of what your essay will cover. This clarity is crucial to success in a Comparative essay.

Doing plans is also an extremely time-efficient way to approach SACs. Rather than slaving away hours upon hours over writing essays, writing plans will save you the burnout and get you feeling confident faster.

I've also curated essay topic breakdown videos based on specific VCE texts. In these videos, I explore keywords, ideas and how I'd plan an essay with corresponding examples/evidence.

Step 7: Get your hands on essay topics

Often, teachers will provide you with a list of prompts to practice before your SAC. Some teachers can be kind enough to nudge you in the direction of a particular prompt that may be on the SAC. If your teacher hasn’t distributed any, don’t be afraid to ask.

We have a number of free essay topics curated by our team at LSG, check some of them out:

I Am Malala and Made In Dagenham Prompts

Ransom and Invictus Prompts

Stasiland and Never Let Me Go Prompts

The Crucible and Year Of Wonders Prompts

The Penelopiad and Photograph 51 Prompts

Psst...see these fully annotated sample essays where we show you exactly how we analysed the prompt, brainstormed our ideas and created a plan for our essay:

Comparing Photograph 51 and The Penelopiad: Essay Topic Breakdown

Ransom and The Queen: Comparative Essay Topic Breakdown

The Longest Memory and Black Diggers - A Comparative Essay Breakdown

‍ Step 8: Write essays

Yes, sad but it’s a fact. Writers only get better by actually writing . Even if you just tackle a couple of essays then at least you will have started to develop a thinking process that will help you to set out arguments logically, utilise important quotes and time yourself against the clock. It will help you write faster as well – something that is a major problem for many students. With that said, let's get into how to write a Comparative next.

‍ 5. How To Write a Comparative Essay

Comparative essay structure.

Here are a couple of resources to get your Comparative essay structure sorted. Firstly a video (time-stamped at 1:38) :

Secondly, jump over to Sarah's (English study score 47) Compare the Pair: A Guide to Structuring a Reading and Comparing Essay post where she delves into two different types of Comparative essay structures.

Comparative Essay Example


In an introduction, you're expected to have the following:

  • Context (or background)
  • Both authors' (or director's) names
  • Both text titles
  • Main arguments

Here's an example from Mida (English study score 43), in her post The Longest Memory and Black Diggers - A Comparative Essay Breakdown :

The hopes and dreams of oppressed individuals can be fulfilled to a certain extent. This degree of fulfilment, however, can ultimately become restricted by the entrenched beliefs and dictations of society; and thus, this process of fulfilment is presented to be difficult and rare to achieve. In Fred D’Aguiar’s novella, The Longest Memory , the hopes and dreams for equality and racial acceptance is revealed to coerce oppressed individuals to subvert social norms, all in an attempt to gain liberty and fairness. Similarly, Tom Wright’s play, Black Diggers , explores the collective yearning of oppressed Indigenous Australians who seek to gain a sense of belonging and recognition in society. Both D’Aguiar and Wright expose how the obstacles of social inequality, deep-rooted prejudice and beliefs can essentially restrict the fulfilment of such desires and dreams.

Try to keep your introduction to the point. There's no need to prolong an introduction just to make a set number of sentences. It's always better to be concise and succinct, and move into your main body paragraphs where the juicy contents of your essay resides.

Body Paragraph

Most of you will be familiar with TEEL learnt in Text Response. TEEL can stand for:

  • Topic sentence
  • Linking sentence

If your teacher or school teaches you something slightly different that's okay too. At the end of the day, the foundations are the same.

In Comparative, you can still use TEEL, except that you'll be making comparisons between the two texts throughout your paragraph.

The below example adopts the 'Alternate' Comparative essay structure where the first part of the body paragraph focuses on Text 1 ( The Longest Memory ) and the second half of the body paragraph focuses on Text 2 ( Black Diggers ).

The ambitions of the oppressed are achieved to a certain extent. However, they are not maintained and thus become restricted due to the beliefs and conventions entrenched in society. D’Aguiar asserts that a sense of liberation can indeed be achieved in the unjust system of slavery, and this is demonstrated through his characterisation of Chapel. His depiction of Chapel serves as a subversion of the conventional type of slave; he is 'half a slave, half the master' and belongs to 'another way of life'. His defiance and rebellion against the dictations of society is exemplified through his speech, which consists of rhythmic and poetic couplets, filled with flowery language; which ultimately challenges the idea of illiterate slaves. D’Aguiar also associates the allusion of the 'two star-crossed lovers' in regards to the relationship between Lydia and Chapel; who were 'forbidden' to 'read together'. Despite this, the two characters take on a form of illicit, linguistic, sexual intercourse with each other, as they 'touch each other’s bodies in the dark' and 'memorise [their] lines throughout'. Here, D’Aguiar illustrates their close intimacy as a form of rebellion against the Eurocentric society, who believed such interrelation between blacks and whites was 'heinous' and 'wicked'. The individualistic nature of Chapel is also paralleled in Black Diggers , where Wright’s portrayal of Bertie expresses the yearning for a sense of belonging. Just like Chapel, Bertie desires free will, and he decides to 'fight for the country'. This aspiration of his however, is restrained by both his Mum and Grandad; who in a similar manner as Whitechapel, represent the voice of reality and reason. Wright employs the metaphor of the Narrandera Show to depict the marginalisation and exclusion of Aboriginal people, as they will never be 'allowed through the wire', or essentially, ever be accepted in Australia. This notion of exclusion is further reinforced through Bertie’s gradual loss of voice and mentality throughout Wright’s short vignettes, as he soon becomes desensitised and is 'unable to speak'. Here, Wright seems to suggest that the silenced voices of the Indigenous soldiers depict the eternal suffering they experienced; from both the horrors of war, but also the continual marginalisation and lack of recognition they faced back home. Consequently, D’Aguiar and Wright highlight how the ambitions of young individuals are limited by the truths and history of reality, and are essentially rarely achieved.

Conclusions should be short and sweet. Summarise your main points while comparing the two texts (just as you have throughout your entire essay).

D’Aguiar and Wright both illustrate oppressed individuals fighting against the beliefs and conventions of society; in order to gain their freedom and achieve their hopes and dreams. However, both reveal the harsh truths of reality that ultimately inhibit and restrict the capacity of people’s ambitions. D’Aguiar and Wright compel their readers to try and grasp an understanding of the past of slaves and Aboriginal soldiers, in order to seek remembrance and closure of this fundamental truth. They both convey the need for memories and the past to never be forgotten; and instead remembered and recognised in history.

For further detail from Sarah (English study score 45), read her advice on 5 Tips For A Mic-Drop Worthy Essay Conclusion .

If you're looking for more A+ Comparative essay examples, then you can also get your hands on any of our LSG study guide ebooks. Each study guide has 5 comparative essays, all fully annotated so you can see into the mind of a high achiever. These comparative essay examples also adopt different essay structures (block, alternating, and integrated) so you can see all three in action.

Ransom & The Queen

The Crucible & The Dressmaker

The 7 Stages of Grieving & The Longest Memory

I Am Malala & Pride

Photograph 51 & My Brilliant Career

‍ This blog guide is fantastic to get you started - there are certain strategies you can implement to ensure your Comparative essay wows your examiner and gives you an A-grade ranking. These strategies have been adopted by high-achievers in the past few years and have resulted in student achieving study scores of 45+. Make sure you don't miss out on these strategies by accessing a free sample of our How To Write A Killer Comparative ebook. In the meantime, good luck!

Get our FREE VCE English Text Response mini-guide

Now quite sure how to nail your text response essays? Then download our free mini-guide, where we break down the art of writing the perfect text-response essay into three comprehensive steps. Click below to get your own copy today!

comparative essay sample introduction

Unsure how to study for your Comparative SAC or exam?

  • Learn LSG's unique CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy which has helped hundreds of students achieve A+ in their assessments
  • Includes sample A+ essays with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY students achieved A+ so you reach your goals quicker
  • Different types of essay structures broken down so you understand what to do and what not to do with confidence
  • Learn how to stand out from other students with unique points of comparison

comparative essay sample introduction

Are you a slow writer who struggles to write down all of the information that you hear in the listening audio clip? Have you ever been in a situation where the next sentence in the audio comes up way before you finish writing down information from the previous sentence? If yes, then this blog is for you! 

You want to write down as much useful information as possible in a short period of time during your VCE EAL exam, so it is very useful to implement a system of techniques that works well for you personally. Here are some ideas and suggestions that you may want to use to increase the speed of your note-taking. 

1. Use Different Coloured Pens or Keys for Different Speakers

Under the stress of exams/SACs, you might lose track of which speaker is talking. This is likely to happen if the speakers are of the same sex or they sound similar to each other (from personal experience, I had a listening task with 3 female speakers!) A simple way to remind yourself of who is speaking is to take side notes with different coloured pens and/or symbols for different speakers. 

‍ For example:

If in the audio: Lisa says, ‘The weather is lovely’ and Cici replies ‘Let’s go for a run’. We can write side notes using L (for Lisa) and C for Cici, which may look like: 

L ‘weather is lovely’

C 'Let's go for a run’ 

Or, you could use a red pen for Lisa and blue pen for Cici. 

2. Use Signs & Symbols to Replace Words

Using symbols is an efficient way to increase the speed of writing and ultimately increase the amount of information that you can record. Here are some examples of symbols I have used in the past and the meanings I gave them. 

→ Leading to/Stimulate/Result in

↑ Increase   

↓ Decrease  

⇆ Exchangeable 

☓ Cross/Incorrect   

∴ Therefore OR Consequently 

?  Uncertain/Possibly/Disapprove  

> Greater than/More than

< Less than/Fewer than

~ Approximately OR Around OR Similar to OR Not Equal OR Not the same as

c/b Could be 

- Negative/Before 

+ Positive/Plus

3.Use Abbreviations

Use abbreviations that work for you. There is no right or wrong here as the ‘blank space for scribbles’ will not be marked. Abbreviations can take the form of short notes or get to be creative here!

You can also choose to keep only the essential vowels and consonants in words. Or, leave out the double consonants and silent letters. The following list contains some abbreviations for common words or phases:

Answer = answ

About = abt

Morning = am 

Afternoon = pm

As soon as possible = asap 

Before = bef/b4

Between = bt

Because = bc

Common = com

Condition = cond

Diagnosis = diag

Regular = reg

Notes = nts

With respect to = wrt 

Will be = w/b 

Within = w/i 

Without = w/o

Here are some examples of how you might use abbreviations and symbols:

‘You should remember to take notes in classes’ 

Can be abbreviated as:

‘U shld  rmbr t tk nts in cls’

Example 2  

‘Gidon has a rare blood condition which means he visits the hospital quite regularly. Since his diagnosis, Gidon’s family paid more than ten thousand dollars just to visit the hospital. Gidon initiated a petition that advocates for lowering the fees for parking in hospitals and putting a limit on how much the hospital can charge.’
  • G has rare blood condi → he  visits hosp. v. reg.

I've used G as an abbreviation for Gidon, and the arrow here represents that the stuff on the left side of the arrow (i.e. his rare blood condition), led to the events on the right side of the arrow (i.e. regular hospital visits). 

  • Since his diag. →  G’s fam paid  >$10K to visit hosp.

Here I’ve also used the arrow, indicating that the stuff on the left side of the arrow (i.e. his diagnosis), led to the events on the right side of the arrow (i.e. Gidon's family paid more than 10 thousand dollars). I’ve also used  >$10K to indicate that the amount Gidon’s family paid is more than 10 thousand dollars.

  • G → petition → advocates for  ↓ $ parking & limit how much hosp. can charge

Using my symbols and abbreviations above, it’s your turn to work out how I’ve abbreviated this ;)

I hope these tips and tricks will assist you with note taking during the EAL listening SACs and exam. If you would like more practice on the listening section, check out the following blogs!

EAL Listening Practice and Resources

EAL Listening Practice

Tips on EAL Listening

  • Plot Summaries
  • Textual Features Analysis
  • Themes (Convergent and Divergent Strategy)
  • LSG’s Bubble Tea (BBT) Strategy for Unique Strategies
  • Sample Essay Questions

Essay Topic Breakdown

For a detailed guide on Comparative, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative.

1. Plot Summaries

In Stasiland , Anna Funder, the author and first-person narrator , meets and listens to the ordinary people of East Germany : those who resisted the GDR dictatorship, those who were crushed by it, and those who diligently and remorselessly worked for it as Stasi informants or officers. As Anna speaks with those whose lives have been traumatised by the Stasi, she reflects on how the reunified Germany has dealt with (or ignored) its citizens' trauma and whether memory can be reconciled . Anna is an Australian working for a television station in Berlin in 1996. As an outsider Anna is uniquely positioned to ask East Germans about their experiences , as they do not have to battle with prior knowledge and experience to share their stories. She is interested in the former German Democratic Republic and what has happened to the East German people since the country reunified with West Germany. She became curious after learning that there are people putting together documents that were shredded by the Stasi.

Anna travels to Leipzig and visits the former headquarters of East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi, which is now a museum. The Stasi were the East German secret police and internal surveillance and defense force . Headed by Erich Mielke, they conducted surveillance on the East German population, aided by a vast number of civilian informants. While in Leipzig, Anna meets with a woman called Miriam Weber, who attempted to sneak out of East Germany when she was just a teenager. Miriam, sleep deprived and tortured, lied about receiving help from an organisation to cross the Wall and was sentenced to jail time. Her husband Charlie was also imprisoned by the Stasi and died while in custody. Miriam was told he committed suicide by hanging, but she suspects he was killed after the Stasi refused to show her his body and went to great lengths to hide Charlie during the funeral.

Returning to the apartment she rents in Berlin, Anna puts an advertisement in the paper calling for former Stasi agents and informers to share their stories with her. She meets with several ex-Stasi men, including Herr Winz, Herr Christian, Herr Bohnsack and Hagen Koch. She also visits and speaks to Karl-Eduard von Schitzler, a hateful man who hosted a propaganda-filled television program that criticised West Germany and gave false information about Communist success. In their discussions the former Stasi agents are concerned with justifying their involvement with the Stasi, although many also remain committed to communist ideals and await with anticipation the next revolution and restoration of the communist government.

Anna rents her apartment from an unpredictable and evasive young woman called Julia. Over time, Julia comes to trust Anna and shares her story of the Stasi cruelly interfering with her life. Anna also speaks with her rock musician friend Klaus Renft – East Germany’s Mick Jagger, and a woman named Frau Paul who was separated overnight from her sick infant son when the Berlin Wall went up and was later imprisoned for inflated charges of assisting people to escape East Germany.

After Anna’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, she goes home to Australia for 3 years, returning to Berlin to meet with some of the people she spoke with during her earlier stay, including Hagen Koch and Miriam. She also finally visits the ‘puzzlers’ in Nuremberg, whose story first sparked her interest in investigating the lives of East Germans affected by the Stasi. Anna is disappointed in the puzzlers, realising that their work is futile and there is no real effort put towards uncovering the lost information.

Almost all East Germans were left reeling at the sudden collapse of their government. For many, the collapse of the GDR took with it ideological security and made them nostalgic for the past. For others, being confronted with the level of the Stasi’s intrusion into their lives was deeply traumatic, as people realised they had been grievously betrayed by their fellow citizens, neighbours and even family members. The nostalgia for the regime that Funder witnesses shows how people cling to certainty and position and sometimes struggle with new freedoms. However, having spoken with so many individuals whose lives were ruined by the Stasi, Anna feels that the old regime was oppressive and authoritarian, and that the East Germans are better off with the challenges of their freedom, rather than stuck with the certainties of their oppression.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go is set in a dystopian alternative reality in England in the 1990s. The narrator, Kathy H, is a thirty-one-year-old 'carer' – a clone who looks after other clones who are donating their organs. Kathy is about to retire after a long career as a carer to become a donor herself, meaning she will soon 'complete' ( a euphemism for dying ). However, this premise is not immediately apparent to the reader . At the start of the novel, Kathy informs us she will be leaving her role as carer in a few months and has started to write down memories of her life, sorting through her time as a 'student' at Hailsham. However, at the start of the novel the reader is not aware that Kathy is a clone, although she appears to be addressing an insider from her world.

In the first third of the novel Kathy reflects on her childhood and teenage years at Hailsham . Hailsham is an institution where clones are looked after by 'guardians' and referred to as 'students', and which at first appears to be a private boarding school with a heavy focus on the arts and creativity. Their best works of painting, pottery, drawing or poetry were selected and taken away by a woman known as 'Madame', for what the students presume, and what is later confirmed to be, a gallery. The students know they are different from their guardians and the people who live outside Hailsham, referred to as 'normals', but the truth of what the clones are and their certain fate is not fully articulated until the characters are adults.

Kathy is close friends with a confident and controlling girl called Ruth and a boy named Tommy, whose work is never selected for the Gallery – an acknowledgement that defines status at the school. Tommy, teased and excluded, struggles to control his temper and often explodes into furies of rage. The students collect items and other students’ artwork for their own memory boxes , bought or traded at the school’s Exchanges and Sales. Kathy buys a cassette tape by a woman named Judy Bridgewater that contains a song called ‘Never Let Me Go’. This song makes Kathy emotional, and one day she is caught dancing to it by Madame, who Kathy is surprised to see is in tears watching her. Kathy presumes Madame is upset because she knows Kathy can never have children.

Ruth and Tommy start dating and Part Two sees the three friends reach early adulthood and move to a place known as the Cottages, to live with other clones from around the country and experience some freedom before beginning their donations or training to become a carer. When Rodney, another Cottage resident, believes he saw Ruth’s 'possible' – an original that one of the clones was modelled off – the three friends along with Rodney and his girlfriend Chrissie, take a trip to Norfolk to find her. Norfolk exists in the imagination of the Hailsham students as a 'lost corner', where things they have lost will be found. While the 'possible' is not Ruth’s original, Kathy and Tommy find a copy of the Judy Bridgewater tape that Kathy had lost. Ruth was secretly desperate to find her possible and hoped to find her working in an office. Ruth dreams of working in an office and her wish that her possible will be an office worker is one of the only suggestions we have that the clones secretly long for more from their lives and view their possibles as versions of them and what they are capable of. Back at the Cottages, Ruth continues to be manipulative and self-promoting, leading to a falling out with Kathy where she decides to leave early to begin training as a carer and falls out of contact with Ruth and Tommy.

Part Three encompasses Kathy’s time as a carer. Years after the time at the Cottages, Kathy organises to be Ruth’s carer and Ruth reconnects Kathy and Tommy, admitting she knew they loved each other and deliberately kept them apart. She hopes they will attempt to get a deferral from Madame. After Ruth 'completes', Kathy and Tommy finally become a couple. They visit Madame to ask for a deferral, who informs them there is no such thing. They learn from Madame that Hailsham was an attempt to reform the treatment of clones in their youth by proving they had souls . In most centers, clones are reared in deplorable, abusive conditions. They also learn that Hailsham had to be shut down. The normals became too uncomfortable with the reality of the clones’ souls but were not prepared to lose their organ supply. Never Let Me Go is a story about injustice and social stratification, where one group is made to suffer for the benefit of another. The 'normals' can deny their mortality while forcing the clones to confront their death sooner than their natural life span , and by shutting down schools like Hailsham, they do not need to think about the ethics of their choices.

Tommy dies and Kathy resigns herself to her fate as a donor. At the end of the novel, Kathy misses Tommy and Ruth, but consoles herself that she will always have her memories with her . Ishiguro explores the extent to which people accept their predetermined fate and how they can find meaning and love within those often-cruel limitations. 

2. Textual Features Analysis

A textual feature is a component of the text used by authors to give meaning to their work. It is necessary to engage with the actual construction of the texts and to discuss textual features using metalanguage (terms that describe and analyse language). To write a thorough and thoughtful essay, you need to understand the textual features and how they are connected to overall thematic ideas. Structural features and metalanguage can be used as evidence of authorial intent and deepen our understanding of how writers use literary techniques to develop ideas and create meaning. Let’s take a look at Genre . 

Stasiland is an example of creative nonfiction, meaning it tells a story of factual events and real people using literary and poetic techniques. The word ‘creative’ doesn’t give authors permission to exaggerate or dramatise the truth, instead this genre is one of factually accurate prose about real people and events that is told in a vivid and compelling way.

The reason Stasiland is classified as creative nonfiction and not under the genre of memoir is because although the events follow Anna Funder’s experiences in Berlin, they are not predominantly about her. A memoir is the writer’s own personal journey and life, whereas creative nonfiction generally has more public relevance and commentary. In Stasiland , Funder’s experiences in Berlin structure the chronology of the narrative but take a thematic backseat to the stories of the East Germans she meets and the historical events she relays . 

Never Let Me Go has elements of multiple genres: dystopian fiction, speculative historical fiction, science fiction and bildungsroman.

‘Dystopia’ means the opposite of ‘utopia’, but you’ll notice that most dystopian novels are set in societies where the ruling classes believe they are in a utopia. This is true of Never Let Me Go , as the clones pay with their lives and freedom for the utopian elimination of disease and extended life spans of the 'normals '. However, while clearly set in a horrific dystopian world, Never Let Me Go notably differs from other novels in the dystopian genre, as the oppressed clones never once consider rebelling against the status quo – the most Kathy and Tommy hope for is an extension before beginning their donations and 'completing'. Ishiguro has stated in multiple interviews that he was most interested in exploring why oppressed persons never consider rebelling against their fate – what leads them to passive acceptance of their position in society?  

In his exploration of this question, Ishiguro explores the development and growing up of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, trying to understand why they all submit without protest to their fate . In this sense the novel is a bildungsroman. Bildungsroman is a genre concerned with the psychological and moral development of a protagonist from childhood to adulthood, focusing on a person’s formation or coming of age. Never Let Me Go follows Kathy, Ruth and Tommy throughout their childhood and adolescence at Hailsham, their experience of limited freedom at the Cottages as young adults, and finally the reality of their short adult life as organ donors.

Of course, Never Let Me Go also fits into the category of speculative historical fiction and science fiction. The novel is set in an alternate historical reality where genetic science rapidly advanced after World War Two (significantly outstripping the real-world) and clones have been used to extend life in the UK for decades. However, Ishiguro does not give much narrative weight to describing the political reality of his fictional world , and neither does he offer much scientific explanation for the existence of clones. As we’ve already discussed, Ishiguro was vastly more interested in using these scientific and political circumstances to create conditions within which to explore characters and, by extension, human nature, so Never Let Me Go fits uneasily in these genres. 

3. Themes (Convergent and Divergent Strategy)

Now that we’ve looked closely at both Stasiland and Never Let Me Go , it’s time to discuss in depth the key themes and ideas. Themes are the big ideas about human experience that a text explores, and form part of the message the author is hoping to communicate. A sound knowledge of key themes is essential for developing a thoughtful essay. All essay topics will ask you to explore thematic ideas in one way or another. If you have a strong understanding of both texts’ themes and how they are communicated, you will be able to generate arguments for any essay topic with confidence.

I’ll be adhering to the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy. This guide doesn’t go into too much detail about using LSG’s CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy, so perhaps familiarise yourself with it by reading How to Write a Killer Comparative . 

Convergent Idea: The Importance of the Act of Remembering

Both Stasiland and Never Let Me Go illustrate the importance of remembering through the very construction of the text: in the narrative voice and narrative structure. Both narrators are looking into the past to try to make sense of history. For Kathy, this is a personal history whereas for Funder it is an act of witnessing a nation’s past and elevating the voices of the victims.

Stasiland is a compilation of the stories of all kinds of people involved and impacted by the GDR , including those who rebelled against the system, those who supported it and those crushed by it. Thus, ‘both sides’ of history are represented. Funder said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald after the publication of Stasiland that, 'When [Germans] read my book, people in the East are not proud of themselves. They'd rather not be reminded that other people were braver than they were. So there is a huge force to pretend that the Stasi regime was not as bad as it was.' This desire to forget the past so as to ignore confronting the terrible and terrifying truths contained within it is what Funder is working against by writing Stasiland . At one point in the text, she explicitly states what she’s doing: 

'I’m making portraits of people, East Germans, of whom there will be none left in a generation. And I’m painting a picture of a city on the old fault-line of east and west. This is working against forgetting, and against time' ( Stasiland , 147).

Julia explains the importance of these portraits, telling Anna 'For anyone to understand a regime like the GDR, the stories of ordinary people must be told. …You have to look at how normal people manage with such things in their pasts' (144). These 'things in their pasts' are not just trauma and hardship, but the knowledge that people just like them – their spouses, children, friends and neighbours – were capable of such cowardice, betrayal, self-interest and cruelty. It is this knowledge that Funder wants to preserve – that ordinary people are capable of both extraordinary courage and extraordinary cowardice .

Anna comes across a sobbing man 'I don’t want to be German anymore!...We are terrible…They are terrible. The Germans are terrible' ( Stasiland , 253-4). Anna reflects that East Germans were 'long used to thinking the bad Germans were on the other side of the Wall' and now he is forced to ask 'were his people, now broke or drunk, shamed or fled or imprisoned or dead, any good at all?' ( Stasiland , 254).

Although Kathy’s narration is entirely from her perspective , her act of remembering is also in many ways a political statement that forces us to consider the inhumanity people are capable of .

Kathy recollects and structures her memories of her childhood and relationships to understand them as a unified whole, essentially establishing her identity . More importantly, it is evident in phrases such as 'I don’t know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham…' ( NLMG , 13) and 'I’m sure you’ve heard it said plenty more' ( NLMG , 4) that Kathy is positing a reader for her writing. Assuming a reader places her autobiography in a social framework with the purpose of communicating her life , which turns it into a historical account that exists beyond the limit of her death. Kathy’s attempt to leave a legacy by writing down her experiences and structuring her identity is an act of protest against a society that believes she is sub-human , without feelings or motivations, and that her life meant nothing.

Divergent Idea: The Role and Value of Nostalgia

The way memory can be distorted is particularly clear in relation to the idea of nostalgia for a brutal past. This idea is explored differently in Stasiland and Never Let Me Go , with Funder condemning nostalgia as blinding people to the horrors of the past, and Ishiguro illustrating how drawing comfort from the past can help people through difficult times .

In Stasiland , many disaffected former East Germans tell Anna that things were 'so much better before' ( Stasiland , 251) the country’s reunification. Anna reflects: 

'I don’t doubt this genuine nostalgia, but I think it has coloured a cheap and nasty world golden; a world where they was nothing to buy, nowhere to go and anyone who wanted to do anything with their lives other than serve the Party risked persecution, or worse' ( Stasiland , 251-2).

Similarly, while working at the radio station on Ostalgie parties ( Ostalgie is nostalgia for life in Communist East Germany), Miriam observes 'a crazy nostalgia for the GDR – as if it had been a harmless welfare state that looked after people’s needs. Most of the people at these parties are too young to remember the GDR anyway. They are just looking for something to yearn for' ( Stasiland , 275). Funder is critical of nostalgia because it minimises past injustice .

Conversely, in Never Let Me Go , nostalgia and false memories are shown to be consolatory and even useful. Before Kathy begins to recount her childhood, she mentions a donor who was once under her care who 'knew he was close to completing' ( NLMG , 5). He asks Kathy to share memories of her childhood and 'What he wanted was not just to hear about Hailsham, but to remember Hailsham, just like it had been his own childhood. …so the line would blur between what were my memories and his' ( NLMG , 5). Although this man is falsifying his memories, he is not editing and revising history like some people in east Berlin , he is replacing them entirely to suppress the trauma of his own past. He is not yearning for a return to an idealised past the way some people in Stasiland do. For Kathy, nostalgia for her childhood helps her reconnect with her friends, creating a sense of belonging and identity. Her attachment to Hailsham strengthens her worldview, her relational bonds and gives meaning to her life. Nostalgic memory in Never Let Me Go brings comfort, although you could argue that it also fosters passivity and acceptance in the face of oppression .

4. LSG’s Bubble Tea (BBT) Strategy for Unique Strategies

Why is an interpretation important.

Your interpretation is what English is all about; it’s about getting you to think critically about the essay topic at hand, to formulate a contention (agree, disagree, or sit on the fence) and argue each of your points with the best pieces of evidence you can find - and it’s something you might already be starting to do naturally.

In this section, we aim to help you develop your own interpretation of the text, rather than relying on your teacher, tutor or even a study guide (including this one) author’s interpretation. By developing your own interpretation, you become a better English student by:

  • Writing with meaning. For a text to be interpreted, you need a text and an interpreter (i.e. you!). Whenever we read a new text, our interpretation of a text is shaped by our pre-existing beliefs, knowledge and expectations. This should be reassuring because it means that you can leverage your own life experiences in developing a unique interpretation of the text! We’ll show you how this works in the next point.
  • Remembering evidence (quotes or literary devices) more easily. If you know you admire a character for example (which is in itself an interpretation 😉), you can probably remember why you admire them. Perhaps the character’s selflessness reminds you of your Dad (see how you’re using real life experiences mentioned in Point 1 to develop an interpretation of the text?). You will then more easily recall something the character said or did in the text (i.e. evidence) that made you admire them.
  • Having an analysis ready to use alongside the evidence. As a result of Point 2 , you’ll be able to write a few sentences based on your own interpretation. Rather than memorising entire essays ( we’ve talked about this before ) and regurgitating information from teachers, tutors, study guides and other resources - which can be labour intensive and actually detract from the originality of your essay - you’re approaching the essay with your own thoughts and opinions (which you can reuse over and over again across different essay topics).

Let’s look on the flip side. What happens when you don’t have your own interpretation?

When you don’t take the time to actively think for yourself - i.e. to think through your own interpretations (we’ve talked about the importance of THINK in the THINK and EXECUTE strategy here ) - when it finally comes to writing an essay, you may find it difficult:

a) to get started - formulating a contention in response to the essay topic is challenging because you have no strong opinion about the text ,

b) complete the essay - writing up arguments and using evidence in paragraphs becomes challenging because you have no strong opinion about the text ,

c) to score higher marks - ultimately, you end up regurgitating other people’s ideas (your teacher’s, tutor’s or from study guides) because you have (you guessed it) no strong opinion on the text .

Having your own interpretation means that you’ll eliminate issues a, b and c from above. Overall, you’ll have opinions (and therefore contentions) ready for any prompt when you go into your SACs or exams, which means it’ll be easier not only to write a full essay, but an original and insightful one as well.

To overcome the issues above, you need to be confident with your own interpretation of the text. This doesn’t come naturally to a lot of students, and it makes sense why. After all, so many subjects reward specific answers (2 + 2 = 4), whereas English is tricky because there’s so much more flexibility in what constitutes a ‘correct answer’. It’s scary treading the sea of different possible interpretations because you’ll ask yourself questions like:

  • How do I know if my interpretation is correct?
  • How do I know if my evidence actually backs up what I’m arguing?
  • What if I disagree with my teacher, and they mark me down for a differing opinion?
  • Or worse - I’m not smart enough to come up with my own interpretation!

Let me say that you are absolutely smart enough to develop your own interpretation, and I’ll show you how to do so in A Killer Comparative Guide: Stasiland & Never Let Me Go with LSG’s unique strategy - the BUBBLE TEA (BBT) strategy . By following our step-by-step framework, you can be confident that your interpretation is valid, that it backs up your argument, and that most importantly, you won’t lose marks for it!

 5. Sample Essay Questions

1. ‘To conform is to be safe and to survive.’ Compare how this idea is examined in both texts.

2. 'The earlier years…blur into each other as a kind of golden time' ( Never Let Me Go ) 'I don’t doubt this genuine nostalgia, but I think it has coloured a cheap and nasty world golden.' ( Stasiland ) Compare what the two texts say about the dangers of willful ignorance.

3. 'For Miriam, the past stopped when Charlie died.' ( Stasiland ) '…I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, maybe even call…and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn’t sobbing…I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.' ( Never Let Me Go ) What role do love and relationships play in helping people withstand persecution?

4. ‘It is impossible to be free when you are unaware of your confines.’ Compare how the two texts explore freedom and confinement.

4. ‘The past is always harder to access than we think’. Compare the ways in which Stasiland and Never Let Me Go depict the difficulties in uncovering the past.

As with all our essay topic breakdowns, we'll follow LSG's THINK and EXECUTE strategy , as taught in our How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide. The LSG's THINK and EXECUTE strategy follows three steps in the THINK phase - A nalyse, B rainstorm, and C reate a Plan. Learn more about this technique in this video:

'To remember or forget? Which is healthier? To demolish it or fence it off? To dig it up, or leave it to lie in the ground?' ( Stasiland ). 'What he wanted was not just to hear about Hailsham, but to remember Hailsham, just like it had been his own childhood' ( Never Let Me Go ). How does memory inform identity in Stasiland and Never Let Me Go ?

Step 1: Analyse

This quote-based prompt is constructed a bit like a theme-based prompt as it directs us to talk about memory’s role in forming identity. However, the quotes act as an additional hint in terms of what else we’re supposed to discuss. We need to identify where these quotes come from in the texts and why they might be significant. The Stasiland quote (from p. 52) comes from the question of what the nation should do with Hitler’s bunker. In the end the only decision was indecision, the mayor buried the bunker and hoped that people in 50 years might know what to do with it. Thus, this quote points to the difficulty countries have in creating a national identity when there is horror and trauma in their history. The Never Let Me Go quote (from p. 5) points towards an ill donor’s recreation of his identity using someone else’s memories. Therefore, this quote points to how memories, even false ones, can reconstruct individual identity.

Step 2: Brainstorm

Because of the direction of the two quotes, I am going to explore memory’s role in forming individual and group identity.

Individual identity:

  • Kathy and Julia develop greater self-insight through sharing their memories in a structured, logical narrative.
  • Kathy and Herr Koch fear that the loss of the physical presence of Hailsham and the Berlin Wall will undermine the significance of their memories of these places, which form a substantial part of their pasts and identities. They therefore pay much more attention to preserving their memories of these places to affirm their identity.

Group identity:

  • East Germany’s rewriting and erasure of history meant that they no longer identified as the same Germans responsible for Hitler’s regime.
  • The episode in which a distressed man sobs 'I don’t want to be German anymore!' reveals how difficult memories can generate confusion and internal conflict over an individual’s perception of their national identity.
  • In NLMG , the country’s determined forgetting of the circumstances of the clones allows them to preserve their own interests and maintain an uncomplicated, guilt-free, but false, innocent national identity.

Step 3: Create a Plan

P1: Both texts show that the degree to which one’s memories have been investigated and illuminated impacts how well they understand their identity.

  • Compare Kathy and Julia and the way they reconstruct their understanding of their identity by reflecting on their memories with the new information offered by hindsight.
  • Conversely, the ill donor that Kathy cares for at the beginning of the novel sought to purposefully suppress his own identity by replacing his memories. This speaks to the same idea that memories can evolve and shape identity but shows how that can be misaligned with reality and truth (note: this discussion of the donor is your opportunity to use the quote from the prompt, which is a requirement of a quote-based topic).

P2: Sometimes people hold on tightly to particular memories as a way to affirm their identity as losing those memories is akin to erasing or denying the legitimacy of their experiences.

  • Compare Hagen Koch’s obsession with the Berlin Wall and Kathy’s preoccupation with Hailsham.

P3: Choosing what gets remembered or forgotten in a nation’s ‘official history’ drastically impacts how their national identity is perceived and how well that identity aligns with reality.

  • 'History was so quickly remade, and so successfully, that it can truly be said that the easterners did not feel then, and do not feel now, that they were the same Germans as those responsible for Hitler’s regime'
  • 'I don’t want to be German anymore!'
  • 'To remember or forget? Which is healthier?'
  • 'The world didn’t want to be reminded how the donation program really worked.'
  • 'They preferred to believe these organs appeared from nowhere.'

If you'd like to see the sample A+ essay we wrote up for this essay topic, then you might want to check out our A Killer Comparative Guide: Stasiland & Never Let Me Go study guide !

For an overview of the EAL study design plus tips and tricks for reading comprehension, time management and more, check out The Ultimate Guide to EAL .

The listening tasks of the EAL exam are worth 20% of the total exam marks.  Since this section was introduced to the exam fairly recently, limited past exam questions are available for students to practice. In my blog post EAL Listening Practice and Resources , I provide you with some awesome listening resources that you should definitely check out! And more importantly, I teach you a step-by-step approach for how to use those listening resources to help you better prepare for EAL listening. If you haven’t already read that blog post, go and check it out before coming back to this one so that you understand the steps we’re following.

Here we’ll be working through another exam-style practice to help us improve on the EAL listening section. We will be adopting the same strategies introduced in EAL Listening Practice and Resources . For more advice on how to boost your skills in the listening section, check out Tips on EAL Listening .

Use this link to access the audio clip that we’ll be using in this listening practice: Hospital Parking Fees - Classroom - BTN (

Download this worksheet so that you can work through this listening task on your own too!

1st Time Listening

Step 1:  read and annotate background information (below).

  • Highlight the name of the speakers.
  • Underline important information.

comparative essay sample introduction

Step 2:  Read and Annotate the Questions 

Develop a system that works well for you personally. For example, I usually underline the keywords that give me information on ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘when’. I highlight the speakers in the example below. 

comparative essay sample introduction

Step 3: Listen to the Audio (Without the Visual)

Hospital Parking Fees - Classroom - BTN (

Step 4: Write Down Side Notes

comparative essay sample introduction

2nd Time Listening  

Step 1: Fill in the blanks and try to be aware of words you don’t quite ‘get’.

This is where you have the opportunity to fill in the blanks for the challenging words that you did not pick up in the first round. For example: petition, democratic, campaign, rare. 

COMMON MISTAKE: check the spelling for ‘rare’, not ‘rear’

Step 2: Note down how the speakers convey their attitude, feeling, ideas, etc.

Let's take a look at this section of the audio clip:

GIDON: ‘ It gives me a really good feeling to know that I've made a change, that change has happened. I think what I would like to say to all the other people, especially kids who want to start change, is that it really does sometimes seem impossible that someone that doesn't have a vote and who doesn't have as much democratic power really as adults do, I think what this has shown is that it really is possible to do these things that we still can affect our country and that small people can make great change.’  

Here’s one way I analysed the delivery of the audio:

The cheerful and hopeful tone used to deliver the message that the change brings him ‘a really good feeling’ demonstrates Gidon’s approval of the change in parking fees. Furthermore, Gidon states this in a high pitch and fast pace, unveiling that he is pleased and satisfied about the reduction in hospital parking fees . 

Step 3: Interaction between speakers. 

This step does not apply to this particular audio clip since the audio/ video is a recount of the event rather than direct conversation between two or more speakers. 

3rd Time Listening  

The transcript is available HERE . 

Whilst reading through the transcript with the audio on, try and pick up any information that you missed in previous rounds of listening and also words that you might have spelt incorrectly. 

Sample Questions and Answers

Have a go at these VCAA-style questions that I wrote up, and then check out my sample answers to see how your own answers compare. You will probably notice that a lot of the information you gather from the ‘W’ words actually provides you with the answers to the majority of the questions here.

Sample Questions

Sample answers.

1.  Gidon’s petition is about lowering the fee for parking in hospitals and putting a limit on how much the hospital can charge.

2. Gidon has a rare blood condition which means he visits the hospital quite regularly. Since his diagnosis, Gidon’s family paid more than ten thousand dollars just to visit the hospital.

3.  When hospital parking fees are too expensive, patients will buy food and other necessities instead of going to the hospital. Thus, patients may not go to the hospital because parking is too expensive, these poor patients need to choose between paying parking fees and buying food. 

4. Regular hospital attendants will receive a 90% discount on what they are currently paying.

 5. Families, patients and carers for regular visitors of public hospitals.

COMMON MISTAKE: check the spelling for ‘carer’, not ‘career’ or ‘carrier’

6. Gidon is very happy and proud of the change in hospital fees. Gidon uses a cheerful and hopeful tone (1st mark) to deliver the message that the change brings him ‘a really good feeling’ and he feels ‘unbelievably proud’ that ‘small people can make great change’ (2nd mark). In addition, Gidon states this in a high pitch and fast pace, demonstrating that he is pleased and satisfied with the reduction in hospital parking fees (3rd mark).

--- I hope you found this guide handy! For further tips and tricks on tackling the EAL Listening Exam, check out How To ACE the EAL Listening Exam .

The listening section of the curriculum was introduced by VCAA in 2017 and I highly recommend having a look at the examination reports from 2017 onwards as they provide valuable insight into what the examiners are looking for in high-scoring responses. In this blog, I will explain three key tips that helped me receive a perfect study score in EAL so that you can better prepare for EAL listening. 

Tip #1: Pay Attention to the Choice of Delivery 

Delivery of speech can be described from 5 aspects:

Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of a sound. High-pitch can be used to heighten the emotion; conversely, a low-pitched voice is often softer and quieter or used to make an important point.

Pace is the speed at which the speech is delivered. Pace can be described as ‘fast’ or ‘slow’.

  • Presence of pauses, repetition, hesitation

These are often used in conjunction with pace and pitch of voice to illustrate the speaker’s feelings, attitude or views towards a certain issue.

  • Emphasis/stress on certain words

The emphasis a speaker places on specific words or phrases serves to draw the listener’s attention to the most important information.

  • Tone of voice

When I first started learning how to nail the listening component, I made an extensive list of descriptive words for tone of voice that can be incorporated into my answers when it comes to SACs and the exam:

comparative essay sample introduction

It is, of course, awesome and somewhat satisfying to have a glorious list of A+ words under our belt, but they are of no use if we are not comfortable using them. By this, I mean we need to make sure we know the meaning of these fancy words and how to incorporate them into sentences. 

Although the full list is very useful, I found myself frequently tending to use a certain few as highlighted below. This helped me to memorise the words I found most versatile, rather than trying to memorise ones I was unlikely to use. You can select the words that work best for you individually - no right or wrong here!

comparative essay sample introduction

Tip #2: How To Tackle the 3 Marks Question!

Usually, towards the end of a listening task, you will get a 3 marks question that asks for ‘choice of language and delivery’.

comparative essay sample introduction

Note: For background information on this ‘Gidon’ question, see this blog . And, if you’re not sure why we have highlighted and underlined certain words, see here .

So how do we formulate a cohesive response for this question and ensure we can get 3/3? The train of thought for answering this question is similar to that of analysing how language is tailored to persuade the readers.

comparative essay sample introduction

The following is an example of what your final answer might look like: 

Describe Gidon’s response to the change made to hospital fees. Support your answer with his word choice and delivery. 3 marks

Gidon is very happy and proud of the change in hospital fees. Gidon uses a cheerful and hopeful tone (1st mark) to deliver the message that the change brings him ‘a really good feeling’ and he feels ‘unbelievably proud’ that ‘small people can make great change’ (2nd mark). In addition, Gidon states this in a high pitch and at a fast pace, demonstrating that he is pleased and satisfied with the reduction in hospital parking fees (3rd mark).

For background information on this ‘Gidon’ question and its answer, see EAL Listening Practice .

Here is another sample answer question and answer (see this blog for background information):

What is Beverley Wang’s opinion on some apps showing many ‘likes’? Support your answer with an example of word choice and language. (3 marks)

Beverley Wang expresses her opinion that some apps can foster addictive behaviours and can be scary by using a frustrated and alarmed tone (1st mark). Additionally, by repeating the term ‘consuming’ four times in a row (2nd mark), delivered at a fast pace, Wang affirms the unethical and addictive nature of the apps (3rd mark).

Tip #3: Build Your Vocabulary to Describe the Interaction Between Speakers 

In EAL listening, you are often expected to describe the interaction between two or more speakers. This allows you to comment on how multiple speakers express their ideas. There will typically be a question that asks you to describe the interaction between the speakers, such as, ‘Suggest 2 words to describe the interaction between A and B’. The answer you need to provide will typically be a two-word answer. Here is a list of words that I frequently used to answer questions like this: 

Words to describe positive interactions include:

  • Friendly, respectful
  • Professional, formal, polite
  • Relaxed, warm
  • Amicable, sanguine

Words to describe negative interactions include:

  • Embarrassed
  • Teasing, childish
  • Tense, unpleasant, disappointed
  • Confrontational

Hint: You have probably noticed that a lot of the words used to describe the tone for language analysis overlap with the ones you employ to describe the interaction between speakers. This is a bonus since once you have learned these adjectives, you can use them for both sections of the exam. 

I hope you found these tips useful! For further tips and tricks on tackling the EAL Listening Exam, check out How To ACE the EAL Listening Exam .

Why Is the Context Important?

Understanding the context of the texts you are studying is essential if you are to satisfactorily respond to any prompt ( learn about the 5 types of prompts here ). Not only does it provide an insight into the society of the time and their views and values , it also allows for greater awareness of the characters’ motivations, resulting in a richer discussion in your essays. Discussing the context of the texts also makes for an ideal comparison which can be incorporated in the introduction as well as the body paragraphs. Moreover, context paragraphs are a great tool to have up your sleeves, as they can easily be adapted to almost every essay question, a real asset when attempting to write an essay in an hour. 

In this blog post, I will be giving a brief overview of the contexts of the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller and Rosalie Ham’s The Dressmaker . Further down , I have also provided a sample paragraph as an example of a way in which I would go about writing a context paragraph in response to an essay prompt concerning the two texts. Both of these texts are set in fascinating and significant eras of human history so I invite you to conduct your own research after reading this! 

At first glance, the town of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 and Dungatar, Victoria in 1950s Australia have little in common; however, both towns exist in stifling geographical isolation, allow myopic and parochial outlooks to flourish, and maintain an irrational but overwhelming fear of ‘the other.’ 

The Crucible, Arthur Miller

The Crucible is set in 1692 in Salem. The provincial, conservative town was established by English Puritans who, fearing persecution, fled from a Britain dominated by The Church of England. The first Puritans to arrive in Salem faced brutal conditions, including 'marauding Indians' and living on a 'barbaric frontier' that lay close to the 'dark and threatening…virgin forest' that they believed to be the 'devil’s last preserve'. In order to overcome these challenges, the people of Salem were forced to unify and remain diligent. In order to ensure efficiency, a strict and rigid way of life was adopted, where work and prayer were championed and individual freedoms and pleasures abhorred. Though this harsh way of life did allow the Salemites to stay alive, it forced them to suppress various natural human emotions such as joy and anger, so as to not detract from work and prayer. Further, the town had limited their interaction with the outside world, compelling them to instead be constantly surrounded by each other. This hazardous combination of repression of emotions and interaction with only a small pool of people spurred private jealousies and vengeance within the townspeople, and it is here that the play commences.

The Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham

In contrast, Ham’s novel takes place in 1950s rural Australia, in the fictional town of Dungatar. Despite being set centuries after The Crucible , Dungatar is rife with the same parochialism (great word to use for both texts, referring to a limited/ narrow outlook), resentment and gossip as Salem. The town’s physical isolation - it is surrounded by 'wheat, yellow plains' and seems to be a 'dark blot shimmering on the edge of flatness' - corresponded with their metaphoric isolation from global events, creating an intense fear of ‘the other’. Further, similarly to The Crucible , the stark physical isolation ensures that each individual’s social interactions are limited to the town’s small population, fostering a breeding ground for narrow-mindedness and prejudice. Ham’s description of the way 'the crowd screamed with lust, revenge, joy, hate and elation' after a local football match win reveals the underlying emotions of the town, repressed behind a veneer of respectability and perceived moral propriety. All it takes is a stimulus, which arrives in the form of outcast Tilly Dunnage, to uncover the malicious undertones of the provincial town. 

Example Context Paragraph

During VCE, I tended to use my first paragraph (in response to an essay prompt) as a way to explore the context of the texts I was studying, and relate the context to the essay prompt being addressed ( learn more about the different types of essay prompts here ). In this case, the prompt I have responded to is:

‍ Compare the ways in which The Crucible and The Dressmaker portray divided societies. 

I was able to adapt much of this paragraph below to whatever essay prompts I came across. 

The geographical isolation of rural, parochial towns can breed a kind of myopia amongst inhabitants and promote binary thinking. Salem is situated on the 'edge of wilderness’, with the 'American continent stretching endlessly West’. The 'dark and threatening' forest which ominously surrounds the town is believed to be 'the last place on earth not paying homage to God’, inciting the irrational fear that 'the virgin’s forest was the Devil’s last preserve' (1) . To combat the imminent threat of the 'marauding Indians' upon their arrival in Salem, the Salemites maintained that 'in unity…lay the best promise of safety’, and hence were governed as 'an autocracy by consent' (2) . Similarly, in The Dressmaker , the town of Dungatar 'stretches as far as the silos' and is described as a 'dark blot shimmering on the edge of flatness’. 'The green eye of the oval' is a physical representation of the town’s predilection for prejudice and endorsement of slyly watching others (3) . The stifling insularity experienced by both towns perpetuates a paucity of culture and 'parochial snobbery’, as well as fostering austere social expectations (4) . The totalitarian regime that governed Salem and their 'strict and sombre way of life' conditioned the people of Salem to repress natural human emotions so as to conform to the conservative and rigid values of society. Indeed, Miller’s description of the 'small windowed dark houses struggling against the raw Massachusetts winter' alludes to the Salemites’ dogmatically narrow-minded outlook and their repression of any individuality. Hence, despite the veneer of propriety upheld by Salem’s 'sect of fanatics’, the town is rife with hidden resentments and 'long-held hatreds of neighbours' (5) . Whilst moral respectability and piety conceal the true sentiments of the people of Salem, clothing is the mask for the 'liars, sinners and hypocrites' of Dungatar (6) . Though on the surface the town appears respectable, the true desires of 'the sour people of Dungatar' are revealed through their desire 'to look better than everybody else’. Their lack of connection with the outside world forces their constant interaction with one another and means that 'everybody knows everything about everyone' (7) . Thus, Miller and Ham postulate that geographical isolation inevitably forges unyielding social norms that repress human emotions and pits individuals against each other (8) .

‍ Annotations (1) In these two sentences, I’ve provided the geographical context of Salem.   ‍ (2) My description of the geographical location is followed quickly by describing the town’s beliefs and values, which have a large impact on the social context.  ‍ (3) Here, I’ve used the geographical context as a metaphor to explain the social context of Dungatar. ‍ (4) I’ve described a similarity between the two towns - remember to use lots of meaningful comparisons in all paragraphs ( LSG’s CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy is a useful strategy for this).  ‍ (5) I’ve detailed how the societal expectations and values of the Salemites (the people of Salem) can impact the behaviour of the characters.  ‍ (6) Here, I’ve outlined a subtle difference (or divergence ) between Dungatar and Salem.  ‍ (7) Once again, I’ve related the townspeople’s values and beliefs, as well as the physical context, to their behaviour. ‍ (8) I’ve ended with a meaningful comparison between the intent of the two authors. 

Looking for more? Check out our other blog posts on The Crucible and The Dressmaker :

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

Comparing The Crucible and The Dressmaker

[Video Transcription]

Most people commonly mistake Comparative (also known as Reading and Comparing, and an array of other names) as just two Text Responses rolled into one essay. They think that Comparative is Text Response, except that instead of writing about one text, you’re writing about two.

And boy are they wrong.

Most people are also aware that the main difference is that Comparative looks at similarities and differences between the two texts. However, this is where the challenge begins.

As you study your texts in detail, you’ll come to realise that the majority of students keep using the same old examples – example X for similarities, and example Y for differences.

To stand out from hundreds of other students studying the same texts, you need a strategy. You need something that will wow your examiners and will catapult you to the top of the VCE cohort.

*Drum roll*

Introducing you to my golden rule, the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT STRATEGY!

This strategy is simple. It’s simple to understand and it’s simple to incorporate into your essays. Its beauty is that despite its simplicity, it’ll advance your essay beyond the average English student. All my students who have applied this strategy have seen their English scores improve by at least one grade (from B+ to an A, or from an A to A+).

Let me explain.


The word, ‘convergent’ means coming closer together . When we start looking for similarities in Comparative, keep this word CONVERGENT in mind. Having CONVERGENT at the forefront of your mind will ensure that you are always aware of the fact that your examples are never the same. Notice how the blue arrows never touch:

comparative essay sample introduction

Sometimes, students fall into the trap of referring to examples in each text as the ‘same,’ but this won’t ever happen to you if you keep CONVERGENT in mind. No two texts are ever exactly the same, no two examples are exactly the same , so avoid falling into this trap. 

Instead, you’ll be using phrases like: "similarly to Text 1, Text 2 also…" or "likewise, in Text 2….’"

Awesome! So this is the simple part done. Let’s move onto the most powerful part of this strategy - DIVERGENT.


The word ‘divergent’ means developing in different directions. We can use the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy for any example you include in your essay. Since no examples from two texts are exactly the same, this means there is always an opportunity for you to first compare the similarities, then compare the differences.

Rather than just a simple ‘on the other hand’ or ‘however’, which you probably have written a dozen times, and felt like you’re repeating yourself, we show you advanced ways to DIVERGE as in this example for Photograph 51 and The Penelopiad:

In The Penelopiad , the resigned way in which Penelope confides in the reader alludes definitively to the ‘overlooked woman’ stereotype being, in fact, a very well-used one. Atwood (the author of The Penelopiad ) does, however, accord some power to Penelope by ensuring that she alone tells her own story, a privilege which is not given to Rosalind in Photograph 51 .

See how in this example, we don’t even use the overused comparative words such as ‘however’ or ‘on the other hand’ which can make a comparative feel simple. Instead, we show you unique ways to compare the two texts so that your essay stands out amongst all the others that are just using the same old words and methods to compare.

If you’ve ever received feedback that you needed to ‘elaborate,’ ‘go into more detail,’ or needed ‘more analysis ’ in your essays, this strategy will help eliminate those criticisms. It will also show your teacher that you are comfortable writing an in-depth analysis using fewer examples (because you’ll be spending more time on each example - firstly by discussing a similarity, then a difference), rather than swamping your essay with as many examples as possible because you barely have anything to say about each one.

Too many students miss out on the opportunity to elaborate or expand on an example because they only write about either the similarity or the difference. But with the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy, we can see that no matter what example you choose from each text, there is always an opportunity to discuss both similarities and differences . This is an extremely powerful approach to comparative because it enables you to spend time comparing, rather than getting lots of examples of for one text in the first half of your body paragraph, slapping in an ‘on the other hand’ in the middle, then lots of examples for the second text in the second half of the body. I see students doing this all the time, pretending to compare these examples when they’re not - you know what I mean right? We’ve all been there once or twice - so you’re not alone in doing this if you’ve tried in the past. The thing is, with examiners, in particular, they’re really good at noticing when a paragraph looks like it’s a comparison, rather than a truly in-depth comparison between the two texts.

That’s why in my How To Write A Killer Comparative , I show you how to use CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT in multiple essay examples across many text pairs. It’s not just about one way of comparing similarities too, it’s all the different ways to can discuss ‘similarities’ - what I mean is, it can be easy to slip into a template of ‘similarly to text A, text B does this by…’ but in this study guide, written by myself, and study scorers who have achieved 50 in English , we show you how to unique discuss comparisons. We also show you how to advance your comparative discussion through Advanced Essay Paragraph Structures which truly showcase the power of the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy.

comparative essay sample introduction


How to Write a Killer Comparative Ebook

A Killer Comparative Guide: The Crucible and The Dressmaker

A Killer Comparative Guide: I am Malala and Pride

A Killer Comparative Guide: The 7 Stages of Grieving and The Longest Memory

A Killer Comparative Guide: Ransom and The Queen


The Ultimate Guide To VCE Comparative

‍ Reading and Comparing essays

‍ How to get A+ in Reading and Comparing

Compare the Pair: A guide to Structuring a Reading and Comparing essay

[Modified Video Transcription]

In a previous video , we covered some of the themes found in both The 7 Stages of Grieving and The Longest Memory. I’d recommend that you watch that video first (or read it’s accompanying blog post if you prefer reading) because once you know some of the themes, you can get even more out of this video. In this video, we’ll be looking at a scene each from both The 7 Stages of Grieving and The Longest Memory , and trying to compare them a little bit. 

We’ll be applying the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Comparative and exploring how ideas are developed in similar or different thematic directions in these texts. CONVERGENT ideas lead to similar conclusions and messages, while DIVERGENT ideas take us to different conclusions. If you’d like to learn more about this strategy which can help you build more insightful discussions of the text by finding unique points of comparison, then I’d recommend you check out the LSG’s How To Write A Killer Comparative study guide. 

The Play ( The 7 Stages of Grieving )

‍ Let’s go to scene 14 of the play - this should be the report of Daniel Yocke’s death in police custody. The woman recounts his death in a factual, impersonal style as if reading from a court report. She describes how the police pursued and arrested Yocke after he went out drinking with a group of friends, and how he was detained and taken to the watchhouse. He arrives without a pulse, but the report doesn’t go into detail about how that happened between his arrest and his arrival. The woman breaks into bursts of emotion toward the end of the scene.

While most of the play deals with issues that are universal and timeless for First Nations peoples, this scene looks at a specific real event . However, this doesn’t mean that this scene isn’t timeless - First Nations deaths in custody are still a major issue for which no police officer has been held legally accountable - but this scene chooses just one example out of several hundred. 

The emotionally detached tone makes the situation feel serious, but in a way, that distances us and the woman from the brutality and the violence of what must’ve happened. After all, how exactly was Yocke dead upon arriving at the watchhouse? How badly must the police have mishandled him for that to have happened? Along the way, there are little outbursts of emotion (like the little outburst of ‘people called him Boonie!’) and these remind us that the detachment belies the true significance of what happened - the needless loss of yet another Aboriginal person’s life. 

This has been such a persistent problem in our history - this scene happened in 1993, but even in today’s time we’re still dealing with the same problem. The institution of policing has been unaccountable and violent for decades, at least, and something desperately needs to change. 

The Novel ( The Longest Memory )

‍ Let’s go to the novel now and look at Chapter 6: Plantation Owners.

In this chapter, Mr. Whitechapel is talking to his peers about Chapel’s death in this clubhouse that his father had built for his own peers. Mr. Whitechapel is initially nervous that they’ll make fun of him, and they kind of do - they point out how hypocritical it is for him to think that he can treat the people he’s enslaved with humanity, and to stick to this argument even after Chapel had been whipped to death. At some point in this banter, he realises this physical violence is unjust and starts proposing ‘another way to organise the economy’ that isn’t slavery, but this draws even more mockery. He ultimately leaves feeling a little more convinced by the perspectives of his peers.

What does this chapter tell us, and how is it similar to the scene from the play?

Well, in both scenes, white men get away with murdering a Black man, and it comes down to socio-economic and institutional power. In this chapter, Mr. Whitechapel and his fellow enslavers all inherit significant wealth and extremely prejudiced attitudes from their fathers, and this creates not only pressure, but also a financial incentive, to conform to the system of slavery. He touches on the possibility of abolition, but this is seen as impossible - certainly, none of these men want to lose their power. 

Looking more closely at this chapter, we also see how Mr. Whitechapel is exactly the hypocrite that everybody says he is - it’s ridiculous for him to pretend he’s treating black people fairly when they are dying under his watch. He says he’s feeding enslaved workers adequately and treating them with respect, but none of this is actually going to protect them from violence, and none of this is going to level the playing field so that white enslavers are held accountable. Ultimately, Mr. Whitechapel isn’t seriously interested in making substantive changes to slavery in the name of morality; he is simply trying to save face. 

I’ve chosen these two scenes because they both illustrate the dynamics of race and power which pervade both texts, but these two scenes might not be the first ones that come to your mind as a pair that you can analyse together, and that’s totally fine! I encourage you to find your own scenes to compare because that’s what makes English powerful. If you, as a unique student, can compare two scenes that nobody else has compared, that’s going to give you an extra edge because you’re more likely to say something original. 

If you’re interested in finding more unique ways to compare these two texts, I’d recommend LSG’s The 7 Stages of Grieving & The Longest Memory study guide. I know there aren’t many resources out there for this text pairing, so what we’ve done at LSG is work really hard at ensuring that all the information in this study guide will actually be beneficial for you. We’re not here just to make you read more guides - we’ve really thought about what would be meaningful for you as a student learning this pairing. That’s why you’ll see that I’ve used some of the ideas mentioned in this video and turned them into an A+ essay, so you can see exactly how knowing this information translates into your SAC/exam.

There’s a free sample of the study guide you can check out to see if it’s right for you!

Passage 1: Act 1 Scene 3

   [Aside] Two truths are told,

   As happy prologues to the swelling act

   Of the imperial theme.--I thank you, gentlemen.

[Aside] This supernatural soliciting

   Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,

   Why hath it given me earnest of success,

   Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:

   If good, why do I yield to that suggestion

   Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair

   And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,

   Against the use of nature? Present fears

   Are less than horrible imaginings:

   My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,  

   Shakes so my single state of man that function

   Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is

   But what is not.

Passage One from Act 1 Scene 3 takes place just after Macbeth has just been announced as Thane of Cawdor proving part of the Witches’ prophecy true “All hail Macbeth…Thane of Cawdor…/that shalt be king hereafter.” This part of the play is the first insight we have on Macbeth’s inner thoughts.  

Macbeth’s firm and thoughtful tone in the opening alliteration “two truths are told ” stresses how serious he takes the Witches’ predictions. Shakespeare presents this passage as a soliloquy in order to convey Macbeth’s true inner thoughts and motives. As this is Macbeth’s first soliloquy, it emphasises the strong possibility of Macbeth heading down a dark journey as he cannot forget the Witches’ predictions “(it) cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, / Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing in a truth?”

Shakespeare uses the metaphor of theatre for fate . The meta-theatrical reference, ‘as happy prologues to the swelling act’ makes the audience consider the action that will unfold in the following scenes through foreshadowing.

Macbeth feels that committing regicide will be a “supernatural soliciting”. The word “supernatural” demonstrates that Macbeth acknowledges that such an act is “against the use of nature.” It suggests that if Macbeth kills Duncan, he will forever be trapped in the supernatural world for his dishonourable action. The alliteration of “supernatural soliciting” sounds incredibly seductive, and therefore highlights Macbeth’s lust and thirst for the crown.

There is a physiological response to his unnerving thoughts as the ‘horrid image doth unfix my hair’ and ‘my seated heart knock at my ribs’ , emphasising the horror of Macbeth has with himself  at his thoughts.

The personification “my seated heart knock at my ribs” once again depicts the increasing fear that Macbeth experiences as his heart is not “seated” with its connotations of calmness and steadiness but “knock(ing)” which is associated with alarming fear.

As Macbeth struggles with his conscience and fears “my thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,/ Shakes so my single state of man,”  he is uncertain whether or not he should take the prophecy into his own hands and murder Duncan or, let time decide his fate “time and the hour runs through the roughest day”. The consonance ’s’, Shakes so my single state of man”.. ‍

The alliteration “smothered in surmise” demonstrates how Macbeth’s vivid imagination causes him to struggle with fear and hesitate undergoing the action that is foreseen by him as a “horrid image.” These mental images are of significance throughout the play as it is evident that Macbeth’ conscience results in him “seeing” a dagger and also Banquo’s ghost.

The antithesis “and nothing is,/ But what is not” is deliberately broken up into two lines to demonstrate the ambiguity of Macbeth’s thoughts and the confusion which evidently contributes to his overall fear. Macbeth’s actions become overpowered by his imagination until ‘nothing is but what is not’ or imagination carries more weight than action. The partial alliteration of ‘smother’d in surmise’ and the antithesis of ‘nothing is but what is not’ makes this notion seem again, particularly seductive to the audience. The word ‘smother’d’ , with it’s connotations of oppression, further amplifies the notion and even suggests that Macbeth’s imagination takes the place of his will.

Hey everyone! This is Part 2 in a series of videos I will release on VCE Study Guides. The content goes through the sample VCAA Chickens Range Free article which you can find  here . Feel free to analyse it yourself, then check out how I’ve analysed the article!

I’m super excited to share with you my  first  ever online tutorial course for VCE English/EAL students on  How to achieve A+ for Language Analysis !!!

I created this course for a few reasons:

Language Analysis is often the  key weakness  for VCE English/EAL students, after my workshops, students always wish we had spent  even   more  time on Language Analysis, many of you have come to me seeking private tuition however since I am fully booked out, I wanted to still offer you a chance to gain access to my ‘breakthrough’ method of tutoring Language Analysis,I am absolutely confident in my  unique  and  straightforward  way of teaching Language Analysis which has lead to my students securing exceptional A graded SAC and exam scores!

Are you a student who:

struggles to identify language techniques?

finds it difficult to identify which tones are adopted in articles?

has no idea explaining  HOW  the author persuades?

finds it difficult to structure your language analysis essay?

becomes even more unsure when comparing 2 or 3 articles?

feels like your teacher at school never explained language analysis properly?

prefers learning when it’s enjoyable and easy to understand?

wants to stand out from other students across the cohort?

wants to know the secrets of 45+ English high achievers?

wants to know what examiners are looking for?

sees room for improvement whether you’re an average student or a pro?

wants to get a head start and maximise your potential in VCE?

This is what you will accomplish by the end of the course:

Be able to successfully identify language techniques in articles and images

Be able to successfully identify tones adopted in articles and images

Be able to analyse a single article or image

Be able to analyse 2 or more articles and/or images

Be able to apply your new skills coherently and clearly in essay writing

You will be able to accurately describe HOW an author uses language to persuade

You will be able to plan and write a language analysis essay structure (single article/image)

You will be able to plan and write a language analysis essay structure (2 or more articles/images)

You will understand common pitfalls and how to avoid these in language analysis

Be confident when approaching your SACs and exam

Know exactly what examiners are looking for and how to ‘WOW’ them

Know how to distinguish yourself from other students

Have unlimited help in course forum from myself and other VCE students

You will become a better VCE English language analysis student!

To find out more, you can check out the full details of the course   here !

See you in the course!

I am Malala and Made in Dagenham is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Comparative (also known as Reading and Comparing). For a detailed guide on Comparative , check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative .

  • Compare the importance and role of idols and role models in I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
  • Describe the role of fear and obligation as an obstacle to progress by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham. ‍
  • ‘As we change the things around us, the things around us change us’. Discuss the extent to which this is true by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham. ‍
  • Discuss the benefit of adversity in strengthening one’s will to persevere by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham. ‍
  • Resilience is more important than success. Discuss whether this is true within the texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham. ‍
  • Compare the role and importance of family within the texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham. ‍
  • Compare both I am Malala and Made in Dagenham in relation to the importance of language as a device (spoken and written).
  • Compare the forms of resistance displayed by protagonists Malala Yousafzai and Rita O’Grady in texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham and decide why they chose these methods.
  • Analyse the effectiveness of small triumphs creating ripple effects in wider communities by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham. ‍
  • Discuss whether support networks are intrinsic for a single figure to create positive change by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham. ‍
  • The main protagonists are galvanized by the people they wish not to be like rather than their role models. Discuss to what extent this is true by comparing the texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
  • Made in Dagenham and I am Malala explore the vices of deceit, appeasement and scapegoating. Discuss these by comparing both texts, commenting on how they pose a threat to the causes of both protagonists.
  • What role do interpersonal relationships play in the texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham? Can these relationships be both positive and negative? Discuss.
  • Change cannot be immediate but gradual. To what extent is this true in texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham .
  • Examine the role of the media in driving social change by comparing texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham ‍
  • A patriarchal society is invariably one that is repressive. Discuss this statement and its truths or falsities by comparing texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham. ‍
  • Discuss solidarity in relation to social, historical and cultural progress and whether it can be both positive and negative by comparing texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.

The most overlooked aspect of English is probably the actual reading of your English novel. Shockingly, there are some students who believe that they can still do well in English without reading their texts – but that’s a topic for another blog post. Since VCE is about strategy, you should think about how you can maximise your learning while minimising the time spent reading. Some students only read their text once, while others read up to 5 or 6 times! For some one reading may be sufficient but in most circumstances it is definitely not enough. Conversely, reading more than 5 times might be a bit excessive. After asking ex-VCE students who have excelled in English, the overall consensus is that you should read your text 3 times before the English exam. Here’s why:

Reading 1  : The first reading should be done in the holidays prior to your school year. Yes, it is during the holidays but you will be thankful you started early when you’re in the middle of numerous SACs, assignments and homework during the year. You should take your time with the first reading in order to let the information soak in. Focus on exposing yourself to the characters and themes. Since many essay topics are based on characters or themes, this will help you foresee the types of prompts you’ll be asked. If it is a more difficult text to understand (such as Shakespeare), rather than pushing through your reading and trying to understand the plot, have a look at study guides first in order to gain a better understanding from the outset.

Reading 2  : This should be done while you are studying your text at school. Using the new information taught in class (such as character, theme, context and metalanguage analysis), a second reading will help you build on the knowledge from your first reading. During the reading, you should start to take note of key passages and draw out important quotes. This will set you up for the SAC and mean that you have read your text twice before your SAC.

Reading 3  : Your third and final reading is to be completed before your English exam. An ideal time is the term 3 holidays. Since it may have been a while since you studied the text, the third reading is crucial for knowledge consolidation. You should watch out for things that you missed during first two readings – usually small pieces of information that are unique and when used in essays, will separate you from other students. These include: not-so-popular quotes, passages that haven’t been discussed in class, fleeting descriptions of characters etc. Remember that the best essays involve interesting and original discussion of the text.


Reading 1  : Initial exposure to the text and an idea of what prompts may be asked in SACs and the English exam.

Reading 2  : Essential for identifying key details for SAC preparation.

Reading 3  : Vital for consolidation prior to the English exam and finding information that will distinguish yourself from other students.

So with this in mind, figure out how you will approach your readings throughout the year, and most importantly – get started early!

We’ve explored historical context, themes, essay planning and essay topics over on our Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy blog post. If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to studying this text, I highly recommend checking it out!

[Video Transcript]

‘Liz sits there helpless’

• From the beginning of the short story we can see that Liz isn’t, or doesn’t feel in control of her situation. The step by step process where she needs to ‘put the key in the ignition and turn it. Fire up the car and drive away’ showcases how the smallest details of starting the car, something that should be so simple instead requires immense mental effort on her behalf.

‘And he’s in there, alone, where she’s left him’.

• Her guilt bubbles to the surface here because it’s as though she’s the villain here, and she’s to blame for leaving him alone.

‘Abandoned him to a roomful of rampaging strangers’

• What’s really interesting here is her description of the other children. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity for Daniel to befriend others and have a great time, she describes them as ‘rampaging strangers’, giving us a sense that Daniel is subject to an unfamiliar environment that is wild, frenzied, rioting.

“Guerilla warfare”, “Jungle gym”, "seasoned commanders”

• These "fighter” phrases reveal Liz’s anxious mindset, as she imagines a world where her son is almost in the wilderness, every man for himself, as though it’s the survival of the fittest - and which Liz so fearfully express, “not that there’s going to be anybody with enough time to notice that Daniel needs help”, is not an environment where Daniel belongs.

“She digs in her bag for her lipstick, her fingers searching for the small cylinder, and pulls out a crayon, then a battery, then a tampon, then a gluestick.”

• Her everyday objects are splashed with Daniel’s belongings - the crayon, the gluestick, and demonstrate how intertwined her life is now with her child. This foreshadows her return to her pre-baby life - that things will not be the same.

“The smell of the place, that’s what throws her, the scent of it all, adult perfumes, air breathed out by computers and printers and photocopiers.”

• Even her sense of smell betrays her being away from Daniel. There’s a sense of alienation, of nausea that shows readers like us that Liz doesn’t feel like she belongs. This is in contrast to later in the story when she is reunited with Daniel and is comforted by ‘inhaling[ing] the scent of him again’.

“Same computer, same shiny worn spot on the space bar…"

• The repetition of ’same’ actually heightens how much has actually changed for Liz. Her entire world is now Daniel, whereas everything in the office is as it used to be. Therefore, there’s this sense that the people’s lives in the office remain unchanged, highlighting again Liz’s alienation.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re right, of course they are.”

• This sarcastic internal monologue reflects Liz’s current state of mind, where she’s experiencing a disconnect from her coworkers, and ’the land of the living’.

"Delete, she presses. Punching the key like a bird pecking. Delete, delete, delete.”

• We can feel Liz’s exasperation at this stage. The simile ‘like a bird pecking’ automates Liz’s actions in the workplace, as though she is doing it by switching to a ‘mechanical form’ of herself. The repetition of ‘delete, delete, delete’ gives us the sense that she’s frustratingly attempting to ‘delete’ her self-acknowledged, perhaps over-the-top anxiety surrounding Daniel, or trying to delete herself out of her situation. Whichever is unclear and left up to interpretation. Perhaps both ring true.

‘Returning to work after maternity leave’

• Liz’s narrative interspersed with new mum’s pamphlet. The juxtaposition of the pamphlet’s words ‘being a stay-at-home mum can begin to seem mundane and repetitive’ is contrasted with Liz’s love of motherhood - she is at odds with what society tells her she should be feeling.

‘[Daniel]’d have his thumb in his mouth right now. Not smiling, that’s for sure.’

• There’s a self-projection of anxiety here with Liz  assuming that the childcarers are unable to look after Daniel properly, and that he’s suffering.

‘God, these endless extended moments where you’re left in limbo, the time dangling like a suspended toy on a piece of elastic.’

• This simile highlights how her mindset is completely consumed with Daniel, as she likens her daily experiences with objects and things related to Daniel and childhood. She struggles to switch between her identity as a mother, and her previous identity as a colleague in the workplace.

‘Caroline, Julie and Stella had laughed dutifully enough, but their faces had shown a kind of pained disappointment, something faintly aggrieved.’

• Perhaps this is Cate Kennedy's commentary on society and motherhood. The expectations others have on you as a new mother, and how you should be feeling.

‘He doesn’t run over when he sees her’.

• The opening of this chapter is blunt and brutal. Liz has longed to see Daniel all day, her anxiety getting the best of her, and yet at the moment of their reunion, it’s not as she expects. In this sense, we can to feel that Liz is very much alone in her anxiety and despair and, not the other way around with Daniel.

’She’s fighting a terrible nausea, feeling the sweat in the small of her back.’

• Unlike other stories in this collection, her pain isn’t because the absence of love, but because of its strength. Her love for Daniel is so intense that it’s physiological, making her unwell to have been away from him.

• The symbol of cake represents her pre-baby life, a time when she was concerned with the ‘account of Henderson’s’ and ‘delete fourth Excel column’. Her priorities have now shifted, and the celebrated ‘cake’ tradition in the workplace, one that is at the centre of several conversations, is no longer to significance to Liz. Her husband, Andrew’s attempt to celebrate Liz’s first day back at work with cake is highly ironic. The societal expectation that Liz is happy to be back at work even extends to her husband, and heightens how Liz is very much alone in her experience.

If you found this close analysis helpful, then you might want to check out our Like a House on Fire Study Guide where we analyse EVERY story in the text and pinpoint key quotes and symbols!

Watch our YouTube Video on Like A House On Fire Essay Topic and Body Paragraphs Breakdown

Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy

Like a House on Fire Essay Topic Breakdown

How To Get An A+ On Your Like A House On Fire Essay

Close Analysis Of 'Cake' From Like A House On Fire

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    Research and brainstorm the points that make them similar and different. Create and add your main statement and claim. Create a Venn diagram and show the similarities and differences. Choose the design through which you will present your arguments and claims. Create compare and contrast essay outline.

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    Don't use simultaneous structure all the way through the essay, however. It becomes monotonous. Use it sparingly. For most of the essay, use parallel order structure.. In parallel order structure you compare the two things separately but take up the same points in the same order. For example, you may spend half a paragraph on "thing A" and the other half of the paragraph on the corresponding ...

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    Here they are explained below: 1. Essay Planning. First, I recommend using my compare and contrast worksheet, which acts like a Venn Diagram, walking you through the steps of comparing the similarities and differences of the concepts or items you're comparing. I recommend selecting 3-5 features that can be compared, as shown in the worksheet:

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