The Best Way to Organize the Supporting Paragraphs of Your Compare and Contrast Essay

During high school and university courses, you’ll probably have to write a number of compare and contrast essays. In this essays, you will examine similarities and differences between different pieces of information. There are certain ways that you should structure this type of writing. Like most papers, you’ll need an introduction, a thesis statement, and body, and a conclusion. Here are some tips for how to best structure a compare and contrast essay to effectively convey your ideas clearly and concisely.

  • Pick two or more pieces of information that you can compare and contrast in a meaningful way. Your subjects should relate to one another and have something in common. For example, contrasting dystopian regimes in 1984 and Brave New World would make sense. In many ways, the novels are similar, painting a picture of a restrictive totalitarian future. However, they also differ significantly from one another. The world of 1984 represses sexuality and gives access to limited rations, whereas in Brave New World, people are sexually liberated and have access to plenty of food, entertainment, and other pleasures. It would not make sense to contrast spiders with steel wool. Those things have nothing in common.
  • Organize your paper with an introduction and a conclusion. Like most papers, a compare and contrast essay has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction summarizes the general content of the paper and introduces the topic to the audience. The key component of the introduction is the thesis statement, which is a sentence or two that encapsulates the main idea of the paper. The body of the paper contains the actual comparisons, with detailed discussion. The conclusion ties the paper’s ideas together into a cohesive whole, restating the thesis statement from the introduction.
  • Avoid “chunking.” A compare and contrast essay should have its contents integrated with one another. For the 1984 versus Brave New World example, it wouldn’t be effective to discus 1984 at length, then discuss Brave New World separately. Instead, you should choose certain aspects of your topics to compare and contrast with one another. For example, you could compare and contrast sexuality in the two novels; the means of oppression in the novels; and the government’s attitudes toward the arts in each of the two fictional worlds. This would create three integrated body paragraphs in which the two novels are constantly interrelated to one another, rather than dealt with separately.

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