Comparative essays are written to demonstrate similarities between two subjects or concepts. Sometimes this type of essay is given as an assignment to show students how items, events or ideas that at first appear very different have a lot in common. Writing a comparative essay is also a good, basic method of examining subjects on several levels. For example, if a student has to compare the political systems of two countries, then he or she must learn about their recent history, governing bodies, political ideologies, and voting systems (if any).
Comparative Essay Structure The three main parts of a comparative essay are the same as for any basic paper: introduction, body and conclusion. A references or bibliography section is also necessary, depending on which citation system is used.
There are a few important elements to remember for each section. The introduction should sketch out the items being compared, and provide a rationale for this comparison in the one-sentence thesis statement. This statement should come at or near the end of the introduction, giving the student’s opinion on the topic and explaining why it is important. The comparisons are made in the body text. Each paragraph should treat a different similarity set, and the results should relate back to the thesis statement. The comparisons made should provide support for the thesis, however it is acceptable to briefly discuss balancing contrasts in the body text. Such a discussion can prove the student is well informed on the topic, but it should not distract from the main thesis.
The conclusion is where the points made in the main text are summarized and the thesis statement reiterated. Any interesting points discovered in the process of writing the comparative essay can be included here. Make sure you use the correct citation system for your assignment so that sources are credited properly. It is likely to be Chicago, MLA or Harvard style.
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