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10 Good Examples Of Thesis Statements For A Compare And Contrast Essay

If you’ve been set this type of paper, you’ll need to know how to handle each part of its construction; and one of those parts is getting your thesis statement right!

It should come after the introduction and is usually just one sentence in the first paragraph of your first chapter. So, for something so short, it could be overlooked as not being as important as other parts of the paper. Well, don’t overlook it! In that short thesis statement should be contained your intention for the whole paper- so make sure you get it right! Don't hesitate to use this essay website in case something is not clear to you.

A thesis statement should interpret the significance of the subject to be discussed. Simply, it informs the reader of the expectations they can have for the rest of the essay; it is the argument for the forthcoming thesis.

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Here are 10 good examples:

  • Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream contrasts the fairies and the mortals’ perception of, and boundaries of, reality, which is furthered by the play within a play.
  • Although Egyptian and South American pyramids differed greatly in many respects, as with their exterior and interior construction techniques, they also had many striking similarities; most obviously, they were made by two geographically different peoples who had no contact with one another according to official history.
  • There are an incredible amount of similarities between the stories of the movies Dances With Wolves and Avatar, with plenty of reason to think this is not accidental.
  • When comparing and contrasting the Republicans and Democrats, it seems as though they have so much more in common than not.
  • With Richard Dawkins and others promoting atheism these days, there are many atheists who have uncanny similarities with Christian preachers.
  • Seeing as Judaism, Christianity and Islam all stem from the same Abrahamic religion, and therefore they all technically worship the same god, are there enough differences between them to keep them opposed?
  • How exactly does Milton’s Paradise Lost differ to Genesis of the Bible, and due to many factors (such as having a single author) does Milton’s work actually contain more wisdom than the other?
  • With quantum physics discovering what many would claim as old mystical truths, let’s examine just how many similarities can be seen in the spiritual and scientific worlds.
  • Manet’s Olympia painting obviously has many similarities to the Titian’s original (the Venus of Urbino) and there are plenty of apparent contrasts in its artistic perception, but what of the public’s perception to such paintings at different points in time?
  • With so many obelisks placed in major cities around the world, are there enough similarities in their placement to give weight to ancient ley line theories?
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  • Comparative Analysis

What It Is and Why It's Useful

Comparative analysis asks writers to make an argument about the relationship between two or more texts. Beyond that, there's a lot of variation, but three overarching kinds of comparative analysis stand out:

  • Coordinate (A ↔ B): In this kind of analysis, two (or more) texts are being read against each other in terms of a shared element, e.g., a memoir and a novel, both by Jesmyn Ward; two sets of data for the same experiment; a few op-ed responses to the same event; two YA books written in Chicago in the 2000s; a film adaption of a play; etc. 
  • Subordinate (A  → B) or (B → A ): Using a theoretical text (as a "lens") to explain a case study or work of art (e.g., how Anthony Jack's The Privileged Poor can help explain divergent experiences among students at elite four-year private colleges who are coming from similar socio-economic backgrounds) or using a work of art or case study (i.e., as a "test" of) a theory's usefulness or limitations (e.g., using coverage of recent incidents of gun violence or legislation un the U.S. to confirm or question the currency of Carol Anderson's The Second ).
  • Hybrid [A  → (B ↔ C)] or [(B ↔ C) → A] , i.e., using coordinate and subordinate analysis together. For example, using Jack to compare or contrast the experiences of students at elite four-year institutions with students at state universities and/or community colleges; or looking at gun culture in other countries and/or other timeframes to contextualize or generalize Anderson's main points about the role of the Second Amendment in U.S. history.

"In the wild," these three kinds of comparative analysis represent increasingly complex—and scholarly—modes of comparison. Students can of course compare two poems in terms of imagery or two data sets in terms of methods, but in each case the analysis will eventually be richer if the students have had a chance to encounter other people's ideas about how imagery or methods work. At that point, we're getting into a hybrid kind of reading (or even into research essays), especially if we start introducing different approaches to imagery or methods that are themselves being compared along with a couple (or few) poems or data sets.

Why It's Useful

In the context of a particular course, each kind of comparative analysis has its place and can be a useful step up from single-source analysis. Intellectually, comparative analysis helps overcome the "n of 1" problem that can face single-source analysis. That is, a writer drawing broad conclusions about the influence of the Iranian New Wave based on one film is relying entirely—and almost certainly too much—on that film to support those findings. In the context of even just one more film, though, the analysis is suddenly more likely to arrive at one of the best features of any comparative approach: both films will be more richly experienced than they would have been in isolation, and the themes or questions in terms of which they're being explored (here the general question of the influence of the Iranian New Wave) will arrive at conclusions that are less at-risk of oversimplification.

For scholars working in comparative fields or through comparative approaches, these features of comparative analysis animate their work. To borrow from a stock example in Western epistemology, our concept of "green" isn't based on a single encounter with something we intuit or are told is "green." Not at all. Our concept of "green" is derived from a complex set of experiences of what others say is green or what's labeled green or what seems to be something that's neither blue nor yellow but kind of both, etc. Comparative analysis essays offer us the chance to engage with that process—even if only enough to help us see where a more in-depth exploration with a higher and/or more diverse "n" might lead—and in that sense, from the standpoint of the subject matter students are exploring through writing as well the complexity of the genre of writing they're using to explore it—comparative analysis forms a bridge of sorts between single-source analysis and research essays.

Typical learning objectives for single-sources essays: formulate analytical questions and an arguable thesis, establish stakes of an argument, summarize sources accurately, choose evidence effectively, analyze evidence effectively, define key terms, organize argument logically, acknowledge and respond to counterargument, cite sources properly, and present ideas in clear prose.

Common types of comparative analysis essays and related types: two works in the same genre, two works from the same period (but in different places or in different cultures), a work adapted into a different genre or medium, two theories treating the same topic; a theory and a case study or other object, etc.

How to Teach It: Framing + Practice

Framing multi-source writing assignments (comparative analysis, research essays, multi-modal projects) is likely to overlap a great deal with "Why It's Useful" (see above), because the range of reasons why we might use these kinds of writing in academic or non-academic settings is itself the reason why they so often appear later in courses. In many courses, they're the best vehicles for exploring the complex questions that arise once we've been introduced to the course's main themes, core content, leading protagonists, and central debates.

For comparative analysis in particular, it's helpful to frame assignment's process and how it will help students successfully navigate the challenges and pitfalls presented by the genre. Ideally, this will mean students have time to identify what each text seems to be doing, take note of apparent points of connection between different texts, and start to imagine how those points of connection (or the absence thereof)

  • complicates or upends their own expectations or assumptions about the texts
  • complicates or refutes the expectations or assumptions about the texts presented by a scholar
  • confirms and/or nuances expectations and assumptions they themselves hold or scholars have presented
  • presents entirely unforeseen ways of understanding the texts

—and all with implications for the texts themselves or for the axes along which the comparative analysis took place. If students know that this is where their ideas will be heading, they'll be ready to develop those ideas and engage with the challenges that comparative analysis presents in terms of structure (See "Tips" and "Common Pitfalls" below for more on these elements of framing).

Like single-source analyses, comparative essays have several moving parts, and giving students practice here means adapting the sample sequence laid out at the " Formative Writing Assignments " page. Three areas that have already been mentioned above are worth noting:

  • Gathering evidence : Depending on what your assignment is asking students to compare (or in terms of what), students will benefit greatly from structured opportunities to create inventories or data sets of the motifs, examples, trajectories, etc., shared (or not shared) by the texts they'll be comparing. See the sample exercises below for a basic example of what this might look like.
  • Why it Matters: Moving beyond "x is like y but also different" or even "x is more like y than we might think at first" is what moves an essay from being "compare/contrast" to being a comparative analysis . It's also a move that can be hard to make and that will often evolve over the course of an assignment. A great way to get feedback from students about where they're at on this front? Ask them to start considering early on why their argument "matters" to different kinds of imagined audiences (while they're just gathering evidence) and again as they develop their thesis and again as they're drafting their essays. ( Cover letters , for example, are a great place to ask writers to imagine how a reader might be affected by reading an their argument.)
  • Structure: Having two texts on stage at the same time can suddenly feel a lot more complicated for any writer who's used to having just one at a time. Giving students a sense of what the most common patterns (AAA / BBB, ABABAB, etc.) are likely to be can help them imagine, even if provisionally, how their argument might unfold over a series of pages. See "Tips" and "Common Pitfalls" below for more information on this front.

Sample Exercises and Links to Other Resources

  • Common Pitfalls
  • Advice on Timing
  • Try to keep students from thinking of a proposed thesis as a commitment. Instead, help them see it as more of a hypothesis that has emerged out of readings and discussion and analytical questions and that they'll now test through an experiment, namely, writing their essay. When students see writing as part of the process of inquiry—rather than just the result—and when that process is committed to acknowledging and adapting itself to evidence, it makes writing assignments more scientific, more ethical, and more authentic. 
  • Have students create an inventory of touch points between the two texts early in the process.
  • Ask students to make the case—early on and at points throughout the process—for the significance of the claim they're making about the relationship between the texts they're comparing.
  • For coordinate kinds of comparative analysis, a common pitfall is tied to thesis and evidence. Basically, it's a thesis that tells the reader that there are "similarities and differences" between two texts, without telling the reader why it matters that these two texts have or don't have these particular features in common. This kind of thesis is stuck at the level of description or positivism, and it's not uncommon when a writer is grappling with the complexity that can in fact accompany the "taking inventory" stage of comparative analysis. The solution is to make the "taking inventory" stage part of the process of the assignment. When this stage comes before students have formulated a thesis, that formulation is then able to emerge out of a comparative data set, rather than the data set emerging in terms of their thesis (which can lead to confirmation bias, or frequency illusion, or—just for the sake of streamlining the process of gathering evidence—cherry picking). 
  • For subordinate kinds of comparative analysis , a common pitfall is tied to how much weight is given to each source. Having students apply a theory (in a "lens" essay) or weigh the pros and cons of a theory against case studies (in a "test a theory") essay can be a great way to help them explore the assumptions, implications, and real-world usefulness of theoretical approaches. The pitfall of these approaches is that they can quickly lead to the same biases we saw here above. Making sure that students know they should engage with counterevidence and counterargument, and that "lens" / "test a theory" approaches often balance each other out in any real-world application of theory is a good way to get out in front of this pitfall.
  • For any kind of comparative analysis, a common pitfall is structure. Every comparative analysis asks writers to move back and forth between texts, and that can pose a number of challenges, including: what pattern the back and forth should follow and how to use transitions and other signposting to make sure readers can follow the overarching argument as the back and forth is taking place. Here's some advice from an experienced writing instructor to students about how to think about these considerations:

a quick note on STRUCTURE

     Most of us have encountered the question of whether to adopt what we might term the “A→A→A→B→B→B” structure or the “A→B→A→B→A→B” structure.  Do we make all of our points about text A before moving on to text B?  Or do we go back and forth between A and B as the essay proceeds?  As always, the answers to our questions about structure depend on our goals in the essay as a whole.  In a “similarities in spite of differences” essay, for instance, readers will need to encounter the differences between A and B before we offer them the similarities (A d →B d →A s →B s ).  If, rather than subordinating differences to similarities you are subordinating text A to text B (using A as a point of comparison that reveals B’s originality, say), you may be well served by the “A→A→A→B→B→B” structure.  

     Ultimately, you need to ask yourself how many “A→B” moves you have in you.  Is each one identical?  If so, you may wish to make the transition from A to B only once (“A→A→A→B→B→B”), because if each “A→B” move is identical, the “A→B→A→B→A→B” structure will appear to involve nothing more than directionless oscillation and repetition.  If each is increasingly complex, however—if each AB pair yields a new and progressively more complex idea about your subject—you may be well served by the “A→B→A→B→A→B” structure, because in this case it will be visible to readers as a progressively developing argument.

As we discussed in "Advice on Timing" at the page on single-source analysis, that timeline itself roughly follows the "Sample Sequence of Formative Assignments for a 'Typical' Essay" outlined under " Formative Writing Assignments, " and it spans about 5–6 steps or 2–4 weeks. 

Comparative analysis assignments have a lot of the same DNA as single-source essays, but they potentially bring more reading into play and ask students to engage in more complicated acts of analysis and synthesis during the drafting stages. With that in mind, closer to 4 weeks is probably a good baseline for many single-source analysis assignments. For sections that meet once per week, the timeline will either probably need to expand—ideally—a little past the 4-week side of things, or some of the steps will need to be combined or done asynchronously.

What It Can Build Up To

Comparative analyses can build up to other kinds of writing in a number of ways. For example:

  • They can build toward other kinds of comparative analysis, e.g., student can be asked to choose an additional source to complicate their conclusions from a previous analysis, or they can be asked to revisit an analysis using a different axis of comparison, such as race instead of class. (These approaches are akin to moving from a coordinate or subordinate analysis to more of a hybrid approach.)
  • They can scaffold up to research essays, which in many instances are an extension of a "hybrid comparative analysis."
  • Like single-source analysis, in a course where students will take a "deep dive" into a source or topic for their capstone, they can allow students to "try on" a theoretical approach or genre or time period to see if it's indeed something they want to research more fully.
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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.

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  • Comparing and contrasting in an essay | Tips & examples

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.

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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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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.”

Introduction

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.

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 she/he doesn’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:

Subject-by-subject

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.

Point-by-point

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 her/him 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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How to Write a Compare-and-Contrast Essay

Matt Ellis

A compare-and-contrast essay is a style of essay that points out the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. It’s ideal for showing what separates and unites related things or concepts, particularly if the subjects are often confused for each other or unjustly lumped together. 

Compare-and-contrast essays have a lot in common with other essay types, but differ in many ways, too—and that’s the heart of comparing and contrasting! By seeing the differences and similarities, the reader better understands each of the subjects by using the other subject as a frame of reference. 

Give your essays extra polish Grammarly helps you write with confidence Write with Grammarly

In this guide, we explain how to write a compare-and-contrast essay, including some advanced tips and examples. We discuss how to structure your essay and how to frame your thesis , but first, let’s take a broader look at why comparison essays are so useful. 

Purpose of a compare-and-contrast essay

Let’s say you want to write an essay about how great renewable resources are, but you spend a lot of your time explaining how fossil fuels work. To truly understand why renewable resources are so amazing, your reader needs a little background on their alternative, fossil fuels—but the essay’s attention is divided so equally that it’s like there are two topics. 

That’s when compare-and-contrast essays function at their best. If two topics relate to each other or define each other, you can better explain them both by showcasing their similarities and differences. That goes double for topics that are often conflated or confused for each other; it helps readers when someone points out exactly what’s the same about them and what’s different. 

Unlike argumentative essays or persuasive essays , compare-and-contrast essays deal with multiple topics instead of focusing on one. The downside is that they don’t describe the individual subjects as much as single-topic essays. They’re also a common assignment for college essays since they show the instructor how well you grasp both subjects. 

How to write a compare-and-contrast essay 

When writing a compare-and-contrast essay, it helps to figure out two things: what your thesis is (the subject matter) and how you plan to structure it. 

First things first: You need to choose which subjects you’re comparing. This isn’t always easy, especially if you have to pick the subjects on your own. 

For inspiration, here are some compare-and-contrast essay example topics:

  • fossil fuels and renewable resources
  • Coca-Cola and Pepsi 
  • Mona Lisa and The Girl with a Pearl Earring
  • ’80s punk rock music and ’90s grunge music
  • Dorothea Lange and Diane Arbus
  • London in the 1600s and London now
  • the LGBTQIA+ community before and after Stonewall
  • Roman Empire and Greek Empire
  • loop quantum gravity and string theory
  • evolution and creationism
  • liberalism and conservatism
  • fascism and despotism

Once you’ve settled on your subjects, you can begin generating ideas. It helps to first list all the similarities and differences between your subjects . When you see them all written down, you can start formulating connections and decide what structure to use for your compare-and-contrast essay. 

If you’re stuck, try making a Venn diagram . This is a visual aid that helps you understand which characteristics your subjects share, and which ones are exclusive. 

Looking at your lists, you can then decide on the thesis. To do so, ask yourself a few questions: What are you trying to show in your compare-and-contrast essay? What do you want your reader to take away? For example, do you want to emphasize that Dorothea Lange’s work influenced Diane Arbus, or that they are two very distinct artists? 

Organization

Compare-and-contrast essays follow our own recommended essay structure . While the linked guide goes into more detail, in a nutshell, your compare-and-contrast essay should follow a simple format of beginning, middle, and end: 

  • Introduction: where you explain your thesis or what your essay will discuss
  • Body: where you actually list the similarities and differences of your subjects; the largest section
  • Conclusion: where you wrap up and summarize your points

The introduction, usually one or two paragraphs, should include a thesis statement to show the reader what to expect for the rest of your essay. You can write your introduction following the same guidelines as other essay types, though be sure to mention all your subjects. Likewise, you can write an essay conclusion with the standard rules and best practices. 

It’s the body where compare-and-contrast essays get tricky. Do you write about both subjects at the same time, or switch back and forth? Let’s talk deeper on this below. 

How to structure a compare-and-contrast essay

The hardest part of structuring a compare-and-contrast essay is knowing when to talk about which subject. Essentially, you have three options: 

  • block method (subject by subject): You discuss one subject in full and then move on to the next subject.
  • alternating method (point by point): You discuss one subject’s take on a certain aspect and then another subject’s take immediately afterward, followed by a new aspect.
  • similarities and differences: You discuss all the similarities between your subjects and then all the differences, or vice versa (differences first and then similarities).

No matter which option you choose, you have to pay particular attention to topic sentences . Paragraphs in compare-and-contrast essays can get complicated, so it’s crucial to have a good topic or introduction sentence for each paragraph to make the flow of ideas clear. 

Block method (subject by subject)

The block method is usually divided into paragraphs: a paragraph about one subject and then a new paragraph about another subject. Take the compare-and-contrast essay example When Nothing Lies Beyond the Mask: Comparing Moby Dick and The Raven . In the first paragraph after the introduction, the author talks only about Ahab from Moby Dick , but in the next paragraph talks only about the narrator from The Raven . Each subject gets its own paragraph. 

Using the block method, you can go back and forth like this for pages, covering as many topics as you need. This approach is best for giving each subject its own attention but tends to slightly weaken the connection between the two. 

Alternating method (point by point)

As another option, you can break paragraphs up by a specific topic and issue, and in each paragraph discuss both or all subjects. Let’s look at another compare-and-contrast essay example, The Reality of Science Fiction: Comparing Clarke to Cruise . Here, both subjects are discussed in the same paragraph, one right after another. 

This approach works best when you want to emphasize the connection between your subjects, or lack thereof. In our example above, the author wishes to highlight just how different the aliens of Arthur Clarke are from those of other authors, particularly H. G. Wells. To emphasize this, the essay author juxtaposes the two points right next to each other in the same paragraph. 

Similarities and differences

The third option is quite similar to the alternating approach, with each subject being discussed side by side in the same paragraph. However, the paragraphs aren’t divided by different topics, but instead by what the subjects have in common and what they don’t. 

Take a look at the compare-and-contrast essay example Government by the People, for the People has Perished from the Earth , which compares the dystopias of George Orwell’s 1984 and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We . The first paragraph after the introduction discusses what the governments in the two books have in common, but the next paragraph explains how they differ. 

This method works best if you want to focus on a particular similarity or difference between your subjects, or if you want to build up to a powerful conclusion or reveal at the end. 

The writing process for compare-and-contrast essays

Want to know how to write a compare-and-contrast essay step by step? The writing process is the same as all essay writing, although adapted specifically for drawing comparisons:

1   Brainstorming — As mentioned above, brainstorming should involve listing all the similarities and difficulties; creating a Venn diagram is a useful method. 

2   Preparation — Looking at your brainstorming lists, decide which structuring method would best get your point across: block, alternating, or similarities/differences. 

3   Drafting — Here you write your rough draft ; this is the longest and toughest phase. 

4   Revising — Does the structure you’ve chosen work? With the first draft finished, you can more easily identify any areas that need to be fixed, revised, or rewritten from scratch. 

5   Proofreading — Finally, you want to make sure you corrected all the spelling and grammatical mistakes in your draft. With a writing assistant like Grammarly, this phase is a breeze. 

If you want to learn more about this process, read our comprehensive guide on essay writing , which better explains the details. 

Tips for writing compare-and-contrast essays 

Beyond knowing the full process for crafting a compare-and-contrast essay, it helps to learn a few tips to ensure it shines.

Choose topics that are related 

In other words, choose topics that have plenty in common, otherwise, your essay will be all contrasting and no comparing. Typically, subjects in compare-and-contrast essays share a strong connection, such as two people in the same profession or two products in the same category. 

Without this unifying thread, the reader is left wondering, “What’s the point of comparing these two things?” Not only will it confound your audience, but you’ll also struggle more to come up with points when writing. Solve these problems before they start by smartly choosing your subjects at the beginning. 

Write for clarity

Essays with only one subject can be confusing enough—imagine how complicated it gets with two or more subjects. One of the biggest obstacles with compare-and-contrast essays is communicating clearly so your reader knows which points relate to which subject, and what conclusion the entire essay is building toward. 

But when you’re in the heat of a writing session, it can be difficult—and distracting—to stop and evaluate your work for clarity. Luckily, Grammarly offers suggestions to rewrite entire sentences in order to improve the clarity of your writing.

If the writing in your compare-and-contrast essay starts getting messy, Grammarly’s writing suggestions recommend alternative phrasings to clear things up. Just one click and your writing gets the professional editor treatment. Try Grammarly now and see how your writing improves. 

comparative thesis example

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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 1,680,241 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 thesis example

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 thesis example

  • 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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  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/comparing-and-contrasting/
  • ↑ http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/specific-types-of-writing/comparative-essay
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/comparing-and-contrasting/
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/how-write-comparative-analysis
  • ↑ https://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/style_purpose_strategy/compare_contrast.html
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/10-7-comparison-and-contrast/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html
  • How to Structure Paragraphs in an Essay

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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Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement Generator

Generate a beautiful thesis in no time with our compare and contrast essay thesis generator.

Any academic paper in college will require a good thesis statement. Make sure you know how to write one using our free compare and contrast thesis statement generator.

  • 🎓 How to Use the Tool
  • 📝 Comparative Essay 101

✅ How to Write a Comparative Paper

  • 🤓 Thesis Statement Examples

🔗 References

🎓 compare and contrast thesis statement generator: how to use it.

This tool provides you with a reliable template that you can use to write a topic sentence by filling in the required fields:

  • The conclusion of the topic,
  • The main argument for the conclusion,
  • The key counterargument against your conclusion.

You can generate a strong thesis statement for your essay in no time with us!

📝 What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay?

A paper of this genre aims to compare two or more things, ideas, or concepts. The comparison must be able to highlight the similarities while also pointing out the differences .

You may structure this essay using the alternating method (discussing one similar feature and then discussing the differences) or the block method (focusing on all the features of one thing and then doing the same for the other thing it is compared to).

Students have to write thesis statements for compare and contrast essays to demonstrate their critical thinking and analytical skills. You need a good hook for this type of essay to capture the reader's interest right from the start.

Step 1: Identify the Similarities and Differences

You can create a Venn diagram to be able to visualize the comparable qualities of the two subjects. This visual representation will make it easier to see where the two subjects overlap, and you can use that as an area of focus for comparing them in the essay. It is also important to pay attention to the features or aspects where they don’t overlap so you can determine their differences.

Take out the items you have listed in the diagram and form them into an outline. These ideas will serve as essay topic ideas, and you can compare that to the assignment brief.

For example, you are tasked to write a compare and contrast essay on two people.

You can focus your comparison on these questions:

  • What are they known for?
  • What do they do?
  • What relationship do they have?
  • What makes them interesting?
  • Do they identify with a particular race, gender, or group?

Step 2: Choose Your Focus

The steps above will help you to build the foundation for your compare and contrast essay. Choose a focus for the point of comparison for your subjects.

Make sure you choose an interesting angle for these subjects or ideas to expound on in your essay. Depending on the assignment brief provided by your instructor, you can narrow down your focus based on what is required for your paper or choose the angle that delivers maximum impact for your thesis statement.

When choosing your focus for the essay, think about its relevance to the course. Think about how you can make your paper interesting and informative. Is there anything of value you can get out of the comparison of the two items?

Step 3: Write Your Thesis Statement

Creating your thesis statement is the next step in writing your academic paper. The thesis statement is more important in the compare and contrast essay type than most other essay types.

You must succinctly identify the distinction between the two objects, people, or ideas compared. Your thesis statement must not be vague; instead, it should be detailed and specific.

If you are struggling with writing a thesis statement that is also an attention grabber , you can utilize a compare and contrast thesis statement generator.

Step 4: Organize Your Ideas

You can organize your ideas in the essay using 2 methods .

The first method is known as subject-by-subject , which is to focus on each subject at a time. You will begin by discussing the features of one subject and then move to the next. When using this method, avoid providing a boring list of features.

Another method is the point-by-point one. Instead of highlighting the features of each subject, you will identify the key points and discuss them one by one.

🤓 Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement Examples

Writing a thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay can be tricky because it should create a focused argument. It should provide your readers with a roadmap of the key points discussed within the academic paper.

  • Does playing violent video games cause players to act violently?
  • What can harm your teeth?
  • Burger King and McDonald’s are both good, but they have several areas to improve on.
  • Burger King uses high-quality ingredients that make the price worth it for their burgers, while McDonald’s offers good value for money with their affordable menu.

As you can see from the both bad examples, they are lacking when it comes to providing specific details about each fast-food chain. Your instructor might require additional details to support your thesis statement.

You can simplify the process of writing the thesis statement using an automated tool like the compare and contrast thesis statement generator.

Thank you for reading this article! If you need more instruments to prepare and polish your assignment, check the collection we prepared .

❓ Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement Generator FAQ

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If you need help to write a thesis for your paper, this page will give you plenty of resources to do that. You’ll find out about the essentials of thesis statement. There are also tips on how to write the statement properly. But most importantly, this page contains reviews and links to online thesis generators.

How to Write a Comparative Analysis Dissertation: Useful Guidelines

comparative thesis example

Writing a dissertation involves more than just demonstrating your expertise in your chosen field of study. It also requires using important skills, such as analytical thinking. Without it, developing sound theories, introducing arguments, or making conclusions would be impossible. And nowhere is this ability more prominently showcased than in writing comparative analysis dissertations.

Comparative analysis is a helpful method you can use to do research. Remember writing compare-and-contrast essays at school? It’s actually very similar to conducting this type of analysis. But it also has plenty of peculiarities that make it a unique approach. Keep reading to learn more about it!

What Is a Comparative Analysis Dissertation?

Comparative analysis types.

  • Possible Difficulties
  • Elements of Comparative Analysis
  • How to Write a Comparative Analysis Dissertation

Comparative analysis boils down to studying similarities and differences between two or more things, be it theories, texts, processes, personalities, or time periods. This method is especially useful in conducting social sciences , humanities, history, and business research.

Conducting a comparative analysis helps you achieve multiple goals:

  • It allows you to find parallels and dissimilaritie s between your subjects and use them to make broader conclusions.
  • Putting two or more things against each other also helps to see them in a new light and notice the usually neglected aspects.
  • In addition to similarities and differences, conducting a comparative analysis helps to determine causality —that is, the reason why these characteristics exist in the first place.

Depending on your research methods, your comparative analysis dissertation can be of two types:

  • Qualitative comparative analysis revolves around individual examples. It uses words and concepts to describe the subjects of comparison and make conclusions from them. Essentially, it’s about studying a few examples closely to understand their specific details. This method will be especially helpful if you’re writing a comparative case study dissertation.
  • Quantitative comparative dissertations will use numbers and statistics to explain things. It helps make general statements about big sample groups. You will usually need a lot of examples to gather plenty of reliable numerical data for this kind of research.

There are no strict rules regarding these types. You can use the features of both in your comparative dissertation if you want to.

Possible Difficulties of Writing a Comparative Analysis Dissertation

As you can see, comparison is an excellent research method that can be a great help in dissertation writing . But it also has its drawbacks and challenges. It’s essential to be aware of them and do your best to overcome them:

  • Your chosen subjects of comparison may have very little in common . In that case, it might be tricky to come up with at least some similarities.
  • Sometimes, there may not be enough information about the things you want to study. This will seriously limit your choices and may affect the accuracy of your research results. To avoid it, we recommend you choose subjects you’re already familiar with.
  • Choosing a small number of cases or samples will make it much more challenging to generalize your findings . It may also cause you to overlook subtle ways in which the subjects influence each other. That’s why it’s best to choose a moderate number of items from which to draw comparisons, usually between 5 and 40.
  • It’s also essential that your dissertation looks different from a s high school compare-and-contrast essay. Instead, your work should be appropriately structured. Read on to learn how to do it!

Elements of Dissertation Comparative Analysis

Do you want your dissertation comparative analysis to be successful? Then make sure it has the following key elements:

  • Context Your comparative dissertation doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has historical and theoretical contexts as well as previous research surrounding it. You can cover these aspects in your introduction and literature review .
  • Goals It should be clear to the reader why you want to compare two particular things. That’s why, before you start making your dissertation comparative analysis, you’ll need to explain your goal. For example, the goal of a dissertation in human science can be to describe and classify something.
  • Modes of Comparison This refers to the way you want to conduct your research. There are four modes of comparison to choose from: similarity-focused, difference-focused, genus-species relationship, and refocusing.
  • Scale This is the degree to which your study will be zooming on the subjects of comparison. It’s similar to looking at maps. There are maps of the entire world, of separate countries, and of smaller locations. The scale of your research refers to how detailed the map is. You will need to use similar scale maps for each subject to conduct a good comparison.
  • Scope This criterion refers to how far removed your subjects are in time and space. Depending on the scope, there are two types of comparisons:
  • Research Question This is the key inquiry that guides your entire study. In a comparative analysis thesis, the research question usually addresses similarities and differences, but it can also focus on other patterns you’ll be exploring. It can belong to one of the following types, depending on the kind of analysis you want to apply:

Want to write your research question quickly and easily? Try our thesis statement generator ! It has four modes depending on your type of writing, which helps it produce customized results.

  • Data Analysis Here, you analyze similarities, differences, and relationships you’ve identified between the subjects. Make sure to provide your argumentation and explain where your findings come from.
  • Conclusions This element addresses the research question and answers it. It can also point out the significance of similarities and differences that you’ve found.

How to Write a Comparative Analysis Dissertation

Now that you know what your comparative analysis should include, it’s time to learn how to write it! Follow the steps, and you’ll be sure to succeed:

  • Select the Subjects This is the most critical step on which your entire dissertation will depend. To choose things to compare, try to analyze several important factors, including your potential audience , the overall goal of the study, and your interests. It’s also essential to check whether the things you want to discuss are sufficiently studied. While you research possible topics, you may stumble upon untrustworthy AI-generated content. Unfortunately, it’s getting increasingly difficult to differentiate it from human-made writing. To avoid getting into this trap, consider using an AI detection tool . It provides 100% accurate results and is completely free.
  • Describe Your Chosen Items Before you can start comparing the subjects, it’s necessary to describe them in their social and historical contexts. Without taking a long, hard look at your topic’s background, it would be impossible to determine what you should pay attention to during your research. To describe your subjects properly, you will need to study plenty of sources and convey their content in your dissertation. Want to simplify this task? Check out our excellent free summarizer tool !
  • Juxtapose Now, it’s time to do the comparison by checking how similar and different your subjects are. Some may think focusing on the resemblances is more critical, while others find contrasts more exciting. Both these viewpoints are valid, but the best approach is to find the right balance depending on your study’s goal.
  • Provide Redescription Unlike previous steps, this one is optional. It involves looking at something for the second time after conducting the comparison. The point is that you might learn new things about your subjects during your study. They may even help shed light on each other (it’s called “ reciprocal illumination .”) This knowledge will likely deepen your understanding or even change it altogether. It’s a good idea to point it out in your comparative case study dissertation.
  • Consider Rectification and Theory Formation These two processes are also optional. They involve upgrading your writing and theories after conducting your research. This doesn’t mean changing the topic of you study. Instead, it refers to changing how you think about your subjects. For example, you may gain some new understanding and realize that you weren’t using the right words to properly describe your subjects. That’s when rectification comes into play. Essentially, you revise the language used in your discussion to make it more precise and appropriate. This new perspective may even inspire you to come up with a new theory about your topic! In that case, you may write about it, too. Usually, though, rectification is enough. If you decide to do it, feel free to use our paraphrasing tool to help you find the right words.
  • Edit and Proofread After you’re done writing the bulk of your text, it’s essential to check it and ensure it passes the plagiarism check. After all, even if you haven’t directly copied other people’s texts, there may still be some percentage of accidental plagiarism that can get you in trouble. To ensure that it doesn’t happen, use our free plagiarism detector .

And this is how you write a comparative analysis dissertation! We hope our tips will be helpful to you. Read our next article if you need help with a  literature review in a dissertation . Good luck with your studies!

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10+ Comparative Essay Samples

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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.

Comparative Essay

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Comparative Essay For High School

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College Comparative Essay

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Comparative Essay Plan Template

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Compare and Contrast Sample Essay

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Sample Comparative Essay Format

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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.

Block Comparative Essay Example

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Student Comparative Essay Sample

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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.

Comparative Contrast Essay Template

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Printable Comparative Essay Sample

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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.

Simple Essay of Comparison Sample

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Sample Comparative Essay in PDF

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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.

Compare Contrast Essay Sample

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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 Literature Theses and Dissertations

Theses/dissertations from 2023 2023.

Constructing Selfhood Through Fantasy: Mirror Women and Dreamscape Conversations in Olga Grushin’s Forty Rooms , Grace Marie Alger

The Supernatural in Migration: A Reflection on Senegalese Literature and Film , Rokhaya Aballa Dieng

Breaking Down the Human: Disintegration in Nineteenth-Century Fiction , Benjamin Mark Driscol

Archetypes Revisited: Investigating the Power of Universals in Soviet and Hollywood Cinema , Iana Guselnikova

Planting Rhizomes: Roots and Rhizomes in Maryse Condé’s Traversée de la Mangrove and Calixthe Beyala’s Le Petit Prince de Belleville , Rume Kpadamrophe

Violence, Rebellion, and Compromise in Chinese Campus Cinema ----- The Comparison of Cry Me a Sad River and Better Days , Chunyu Liu

Tracing Modern and Contemporary Sino-French Literary and Intellectual Relations: China, France, and Their Shifting Peripheries , Paul Timothy McElhinny

From Roland to Gawain, or the Origin of Personified Knights , Clyde Tilson

Theses/Dissertations from 2022 2022

Afro-Diasporic Literatures of the United States and Brazil: Imaginaries, Counter-Narratives, and Black Feminism in the Americas , David E. S. Beek

The Pursuit of Good Food: The Alimentary Chronotope in Madame Bovary , Lauren Flinner

Form and Voice: Representing Contemporary Women’s Subaltern Experience in and Beyond China , Tingting Hu

Geography of a “Foreign” China: British Intellectuals’ Encounter With Chinese Spaces, 1920-1945 , Yuzhu Sun

Truth and Identity in Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov and Prince Myshkin , Gwendolyn Walker

Theses/Dissertations from 2021 2021

Postcolonial Narrative and The Dialogic Imaginatio n: An Analysis of Early Francophone West African Fiction and Cinema , Seydina Mouhamed Diouf

The Rising of the Avant-Garde Movement In the 1980s People’s Republic of China: A Cultural Practice of the New Enlightenment , Jingsheng Zhang

Theses/Dissertations from 2020 2020

L’ Entre- Monde : The Cinema of Alain Gomis , Guillaume Coly

Digesting Gender: Gendered Foodways in Modern Chinese Literature, 1890s–1940s , Zhuo Feng

The Deconstruction of Patriarchal War Narratives in Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War , Liubov Kartashova

Pushing the Limits of Black Atlantic and Hispanic Transatlantic Studies Through the Exploration of Three U.S. Afro-Latio Memoirs , Julia Luján

Taiwanese Postcolonial Identities and Environmentalism in Wu Ming-Yi’s the Stolen Bicycle , Chihchi Sunny Tsai

Games and Play of Dream of the Red Chamber , Jiayao Wang

Theses/Dissertations from 2019 2019

Convertirse en Inmortal, 成仙 ChéngxiāN, Becoming Xian: Memory and Subjectivity in Cristina Rivera Garza’s Verde Shanghai , Katherine Paulette Elizabeth Crouch

Between Holy Russia and a Monkey: Darwin's Russian Literary and Philosophical Critics , Brendan G. Mooney

Emerging Populations: An Analysis of Twenty-First Century Caribbean Short Stories , Jeremy Patterson

Time, Space and Nonexistence in Joseph Brodsky's Poetry , Daria Smirnova

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

Through the Spaceship’s Window: A Bio-political Reading of 20th Century Latin American and Anglo-Saxon Science Fiction , Juan David Cruz

The Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Arab Women’s Literature: Elements of Subversion and Resignification. , Rima Sadek

Insects As Metaphors For Post-Civil War Reconstruction Of The Civic Body In Augustan Age Rome , Olivia Semler

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

Flannery O’Connor’s Art And The French Renouveau Catholique: A Comparative Exploration Of Contextual Resources For The Author’s Theological Aesthetics Of Sin and Grace , Stephen Allen Baarendse

The Quixotic Picaresque: Tricksters, Modernity, and Otherness in the Transatlantic Novel, or the Intertextual Rhizome of Lazarillo, Don Quijote, Huck Finn, and The Reivers , David Elijah Sinsabaugh Beek

Piglia and Russia: Russian Influences in Ricardo Piglia’s Nombre Falso , Carol E. Fruit Diouf

Beyond Life And Death Images Of Exceptional Women And Chinese Modernity , Wei Hu

Archival Resistance: A Comparative Reading of Ulysses and One Hundred Years of Solitude , Maria-Josee Mendez

Narrating the (Im)Migrant Experience: 21st Century African Fiction in the Age of Globalization , Bernard Ayo Oniwe

Narrating Pain and Freedom: Place and Identity in Modern Syrian Poetry (1970s-1990s) , Manar Shabouk

Theses/Dissertations from 2016 2016

The Development of ‘Meaning’ in Literary Theory: A Comparative Critical Study , Mahmoud Mohamed Ali Ahmad Elkordy

Familial Betrayal And Trauma In Select Plays Of Shakespeare, Racine, And The Corneilles , Lynn Kramer

Evil Men Have No Songs: The Terrorist and Literatuer Boris Savinkov, 1879-1925 , Irina Vasilyeva Meier

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

Resurrectio Mortuorum: Plato’s Use of Ἀνάγκη in the Dialogues , Joshua B. Gehling

Two Million "Butterflies" Searching for Home: Identity and Images of Korean Chinese in Ho Yon-Sun's Yanbian Narratives , Xiang Jin

The Trialectics Of Transnational Migrant Women’s Literature In The Writing Of Edwidge Danticat And Julia Alvarez , Jennifer Lynn Karash-Eastman

Unacknowledged Victims: Love between Women in the Narrative of the Holocaust. An Analysis of Memoirs, Novels, Film and Public Memorials , Isabel Meusen

Making the Irrational Rational: Nietzsche and the Problem of Knowledge in Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita , Brendan Mooney

Invective Drag: Talking Dirty in Catullus, Cicero, Horace, and Ovid , Casey Catherine Moore

Destination Hong Kong: Negotiating Locality in Hong Kong Novels 1945-1966 , Xianmin Shen

H.P. Lovecraft & The French Connection: Translation, Pulps and Literary History , Todd David Spaulding

Female Representations in Contemporary Postmodern War Novels of Spain and the United States: Women as Tools of Modern Catharsis in the Works of Javier Cercas and Tim O'Brien , Joseph P. Weil

Theses/Dissertations from 2014 2014

Poetic Appropriations in Vergil’s Aeneid: A Study in Three Themes Comprising Aeneas’ Character Development , Edgar Gordyn

Ekphrasis and Skepticism in Three Works of Shakespeare , Robert P. Irons

Theses/Dissertations from 2013 2013

The Role of the Trickster Figure and Four Afro-Caribbean Meta-Tropes In the Realization of Agency by Three Slave Protagonists , David Sebastian Cross

Putting Place Back Into Displacement: Reevaluating Diaspora In the Contemporary Literature of Migration , Christiane Brigitte Steckenbiller

Using Singular Value Decomposition in Classics: Seeking Correlations in Horace, Juvenal and Persius against the Fragments of Lucilius , Thomas Whidden

Theses/Dissertations from 2012 2012

Decolonizing Transnational Subaltern Women: The Case of Kurasoleñas and New York Dominicanas , Florencia Cornet

Representation of Women In 19Th Century Popular Art and Literature: Forget Me Not and La Revista Moderna , Juan David Cruz

53x+m³=Ø? (Sex+Me=No Result?): Tropes of Asexuality in Literature and Film , Jana -. Fedtke

Argentina in The African Diaspora: Afro-Argentine And African American Cultural Production, Race, And Nation Building in the 19th Century , Julia Lujan

Male Subjectivity and Twenty-First Century German Cinema: Gender, National Idenity, and the Problem of Normalization , Richard Sell

Theses/Dissertations from 2011 2011

Blue Poets: Brilliant Poetry , Evangelin Grace Chapman-Wall

Sickness of the Spirit: A Comparative Study of Lu Xun and James Joyce , Liang Meng

Dryden and the Solution to Domination: Bonds of Love In the Conquest of Granada , Lydia FitzSimons Robins

Theses/Dissertations from 2010 2010

The Family As the New Collectivity of Belonging In the Fiction of Bharati Mukherjee and Jhumpa Lahiri , Sarbani Bose

Lyric Transcendence: the Sacred and the Real In Classical and Early-Modern Lyric. , Larry Grant Hamby

Abd al-Rahman Al-Kawakibi's Tabai` al-Istibdad wa Masari` al-Isti`bad (The Characteristics of Despotism and The Demises of Enslavement): A Translation and Introduction , Mohamad Subhi Hindi

Re-Visions: Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy In German and Italian Film and Literature , Kristina Stefanic Brown

Plato In Modern China: A Study of Contemporary Chinese Platonists , Leihua WENG

Making Victims: History, Memory, and Literature In Japan's Post-War Social Imaginary , Kimberly Wickham

Theses/Dissertations from 2009 2009

The Mirrored Body: Doubling and Replacement of the Feminine and androgynous Body In Hadia Said'S Artist and Haruki Murakami'S Sputnik Sweetheart , Fatmah Alsalamean

Making Monsters: The Monstrous-Feminine In Horace and Catullus , Casey Catherine Moore

Not Quite American, Not Quite European: Performing "Other" Claims to Exceptionality In Francoist Spain and the Jim Crow South , Brittany Powell

Developing Latin American Feminist Theory: Strategies of Resistance In the Novels of Luisa Valenzuela and Sandra Cisneros , Jennifer Lyn Slobodian

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  • Honors Theses - Examples

1.   A Carne e a Navalha :  Self-Reflective Representation of Marginalized Characters in Brazilian Narrative by Clarice Lispector, Eduardo Coutinho, and Racionias MCs by Corina Ahlswede, 2018

2.   The Travel of Clear Waters: A Case Study on the Afterlife of a Poem by Kaiyu Xu, 2019

3.   Examining Blurring: An Anti-anthropocentric Comparative Study of European Vampirism and Shuten Dōji by Yisheng Tang, 2018

4.  The Revolutionary Potential of Mythology  by Zachary Morgan, 2017

5.  “Use your authority!”: Pedagogy in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest by Wesley Boyko, 2018

6.  Train of Thought by Yana Zlochistaya, 2017

7.   “Between here and there”:  Assertion of the Poetic Voice in the Poetry of Rita Bouvier and Marilyn Dumont by Molly Kearnan, 2020

8.  Unveiling the Invaluable:  Female Voices, Affective Labor, and Play in Reḵẖtī Poetry by Elizabeth Gobbo, 2020

9.  The Prospect Garden of Forking Paths: Reading Jorge Luis Borges’s Fiction through Cao Xueqin’s Honglou meng and Buddhism by Jenny Chen, 2023

10.  La Politisation du Féminisme Littéraire et de la Différence Sexuelle chez Woolf et Cixous by Samantha Bonadio, 2023

11.  AENEAS’ EMPIRE AND CÉSAIRE’S EVASION: BLACK POETICS AS REFUSAL AND REDACTION IN CAHIER D’UN RETOUR AU PAYS NATAL   by des jackson, 2023

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What is comparative analysis? A complete guide

Last updated

18 April 2023

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

Comparative analysis is a valuable tool for acquiring deep insights into your organization’s processes, products, and services so you can continuously improve them. 

Similarly, if you want to streamline, price appropriately, and ultimately be a market leader, you’ll likely need to draw on comparative analyses quite often.

When faced with multiple options or solutions to a given problem, a thorough comparative analysis can help you compare and contrast your options and make a clear, informed decision.

If you want to get up to speed on conducting a comparative analysis or need a refresher, here’s your guide.

Make comparative analysis less tedious

Dovetail streamlines comparative analysis to help you uncover and share actionable insights

  • What exactly is comparative analysis?

A comparative analysis is a side-by-side comparison that systematically compares two or more things to pinpoint their similarities and differences. The focus of the investigation might be conceptual—a particular problem, idea, or theory—or perhaps something more tangible, like two different data sets.

For instance, you could use comparative analysis to investigate how your product features measure up to the competition.

After a successful comparative analysis, you should be able to identify strengths and weaknesses and clearly understand which product is more effective.

You could also use comparative analysis to examine different methods of producing that product and determine which way is most efficient and profitable.

The potential applications for using comparative analysis in everyday business are almost unlimited. That said, a comparative analysis is most commonly used to examine

Emerging trends and opportunities (new technologies, marketing)

Competitor strategies

Financial health

Effects of trends on a target audience

  • Why is comparative analysis so important? 

Comparative analysis can help narrow your focus so your business pursues the most meaningful opportunities rather than attempting dozens of improvements simultaneously.

A comparative approach also helps frame up data to illuminate interrelationships. For example, comparative research might reveal nuanced relationships or critical contexts behind specific processes or dependencies that wouldn’t be well-understood without the research.

For instance, if your business compares the cost of producing several existing products relative to which ones have historically sold well, that should provide helpful information once you’re ready to look at developing new products or features.

  • Comparative vs. competitive analysis—what’s the difference?

Comparative analysis is generally divided into three subtypes, using quantitative or qualitative data and then extending the findings to a larger group. These include

Pattern analysis —identifying patterns or recurrences of trends and behavior across large data sets.

Data filtering —analyzing large data sets to extract an underlying subset of information. It may involve rearranging, excluding, and apportioning comparative data to fit different criteria. 

Decision tree —flowcharting to visually map and assess potential outcomes, costs, and consequences.

In contrast, competitive analysis is a type of comparative analysis in which you deeply research one or more of your industry competitors. In this case, you’re using qualitative research to explore what the competition is up to across one or more dimensions.

For example

Service delivery —metrics like the Net Promoter Scores indicate customer satisfaction levels.

Market position — the share of the market that the competition has captured.

Brand reputation —how well-known or recognized your competitors are within their target market.

  • Tips for optimizing your comparative analysis

Conduct original research

Thorough, independent research is a significant asset when doing comparative analysis. It provides evidence to support your findings and may present a perspective or angle not considered previously. 

Make analysis routine

To get the maximum benefit from comparative research, make it a regular practice, and establish a cadence you can realistically stick to. Some business areas you could plan to analyze regularly include:

Profitability

Competition

Experiment with controlled and uncontrolled variables

In addition to simply comparing and contrasting, explore how different variables might affect your outcomes.

For example, a controllable variable would be offering a seasonal feature like a shopping bot to assist in holiday shopping or raising or lowering the selling price of a product.

Uncontrollable variables include weather, changing regulations, the current political climate, or global pandemics.

Put equal effort into each point of comparison

Most people enter into comparative research with a particular idea or hypothesis already in mind to validate. For instance, you might try to prove the worthwhileness of launching a new service. So, you may be disappointed if your analysis results don’t support your plan.

However, in any comparative analysis, try to maintain an unbiased approach by spending equal time debating the merits and drawbacks of any decision. Ultimately, this will be a practical, more long-term sustainable approach for your business than focusing only on the evidence that favors pursuing your argument or strategy.

Writing a comparative analysis in five steps

To put together a coherent, insightful analysis that goes beyond a list of pros and cons or similarities and differences, try organizing the information into these five components:

1. Frame of reference

Here is where you provide context. First, what driving idea or problem is your research anchored in? Then, for added substance, cite existing research or insights from a subject matter expert, such as a thought leader in marketing, startup growth, or investment

2. Grounds for comparison Why have you chosen to examine the two things you’re analyzing instead of focusing on two entirely different things? What are you hoping to accomplish?

3. Thesis What argument or choice are you advocating for? What will be the before and after effects of going with either decision? What do you anticipate happening with and without this approach?

For example, “If we release an AI feature for our shopping cart, we will have an edge over the rest of the market before the holiday season.” The finished comparative analysis will weigh all the pros and cons of choosing to build the new expensive AI feature including variables like how “intelligent” it will be, what it “pushes” customers to use, how much it takes off the plates of customer service etc.

Ultimately, you will gauge whether building an AI feature is the right plan for your e-commerce shop.

4. Organize the scheme Typically, there are two ways to organize a comparative analysis report. First, you can discuss everything about comparison point “A” and then go into everything about aspect “B.” Or, you alternate back and forth between points “A” and “B,” sometimes referred to as point-by-point analysis.

Using the AI feature as an example again, you could cover all the pros and cons of building the AI feature, then discuss the benefits and drawbacks of building and maintaining the feature. Or you could compare and contrast each aspect of the AI feature, one at a time. For example, a side-by-side comparison of the AI feature to shopping without it, then proceeding to another point of differentiation.

5. Connect the dots Tie it all together in a way that either confirms or disproves your hypothesis.

For instance, “Building the AI bot would allow our customer service team to save 12% on returns in Q3 while offering optimizations and savings in future strategies. However, it would also increase the product development budget by 43% in both Q1 and Q2. Our budget for product development won’t increase again until series 3 of funding is reached, so despite its potential, we will hold off building the bot until funding is secured and more opportunities and benefits can be proved effective.”

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  22. What is Comparative Analysis? Guide with Examples

    A comparative analysis is a side-by-side comparison that systematically compares two or more things to pinpoint their similarities and differences. The focus of the investigation might be conceptual—a particular problem, idea, or theory—or perhaps something more tangible, like two different data sets. For instance, you could use comparative ...