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Introduction to Unit 3: Comparison and Contrast Writing

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Michelle Garfinkle

on 7 December 2015

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Transcript of Introduction to Unit 3: Comparison and Contrast Writing

The Method
Which team do I pick in the football pool-the Giants or the Jets?
How do the Republican and the Democratic platforms stack up against each other?
How is the work of Picasso like or unlike that of Matisse?

In practice, the methods are usually inseparable because 2 subjects are generally neither entirely alike nor entirely unlike.
A good essay in comparing and contrasting serves a PURPOSE. Most of the time, the writer of such an essay has 1 of 2 purposes in mind:
Subjects for Comparison:
Be sure that your two subjects display a clear basis for comparison.
Usually works best with two of a kind:
Ex: two means of reading for the visually impaired, two Civil War generals, two short stories on the same subject, etc.
Analogy - special form of comparison, which equates two very unlike things, explaining one in terms of the other.
Ex: explain how the human eye works by comparing it to a simple camera, OR explaining the forces in a thunderstorm by comparing them to armies in a battle
In any comparison of unlike things, you must have a valid reason for bringing the two together-- the similarities MUST be significant.
Basis for Comparison and Thesis
Beginning to identify the shared and dissimilar features of your subjects will get you started.
The comparison won't be manageable for you or interesting to your readers unless your also limit it.
In a short paper, you should select a single basis for comparison.
Ex: Don't try and compare the Russian way of life with the American way of life in 500 words.
Instead, show how schools in both Russia and the U.S. are both like and unlike each other.
Introduction to Unit 3: Comparison and Contrast Writing
2. The purpose of choosing between two things
To EVALUATE subjects, a writer shoes how one is better than the other on the basis of some standard:
Ex: Which of 2 short stories more convincingly captures the experience of being a teenager?
Ex: Which of 2 chemical processes works better to clean waste water?

1. The purpose of showing each of 2 subjects distinctly by considering both, side by side
The basis for comparison will eventually reinforce the THESIS of your essay
The claim you have to make about the similarities & dissimilarities of 2 things or about 1 thing's superiority over another.
Thesis Statement Examples:
"Neat people are lazier and meaner than sloppy people."
Suzanne Britt, "Neat People vs. Sloppy People"
"These were two strong men, these oddly different generals, and they represented the strengths of two conflicting currents that, through them, had come into collision."
Bruce Catton, "Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts"
These are questions that may be addressed by the dual method of COMPARISON AND CONTRAST.
Each author identifies his or her subjects (neat and sloppy people, two generals) AND previews the purpose of the comparison, whether to evaluate (Britt) or to explain (Catton).
Planning is essential. Constructing an outline in order to organize your ideas and subjects is effective.
There are two possible organizations for comparison and contrast essays:
Subject by Subject
-- works for a rather short paper, but has a built-in disadvantage for a longer paper: Readers need to remember all the facts about 1 subject while they read about subject 2. If the essay is long and lists numerous facts, this procedure may be burdensome. Works most efficiently for a pair of subjects.
Point by Point
-- Compare and contrast as you go. You consider one point at a time, taking up your two subjects alternately. In this way, you continually bring the subjects together, perhaps in every paragraph. Usually more effective when writing a long paper than the first method.
No matter how you group your points, they have to balance
A guaranteed low-scoring paper is one that proposes to compare and contrast two subjects but then proceeds to discuss quite different elements in each.
Focus on Paragraph Coherence
A comparison will be easy for your readers to follow if you frequently clarify what subject and what point you are discussing. These 2 techniques can help you guide readers through your comparison:
Transitions - Use them as signposts to tell readers where you, and they, are headed.
• words indicating resemblances (also, like, likewise, similarly)
• words indicating differences (but, however, in contrast, instead, unlike, whereas, yet)
Repetition or Restatement of Subjects & Points
- Use to clarify and link sentences.
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