Quite logically, when assigned writing a comparative essay, a student is to contrast two (sometimes, more) notions, objects, events, artworks, etc. Even if you have never written comparative assignments before, you can easily find examples of compare and contrast essay online. But, before you start googling, note that there are two common, academically acceptable ways to approach writing a compare and contrast paper.
The first one would be to choose similar (or, sometimes, contrasting) aspects of the compared objects and analyze them side by side. This form of a compare and contrast essay is perfect for lengthier assignments, as it ensures your reader does not lose grasp of the subject. The second approach can be a good fit for short essay as it describes the first object/notion, then analyses the second one, and then draw all relevant conclusions.
Below, we offer you two compare and contrast essay examples for college level — the first one follows an aspect-by-aspect contrast pattern, while the second one compares and analyzes two literary works separately, drawing conclusions by the end of the paper. Both of the following compare and contrast essay examples have their strong and weak points, and we will discuss them below.
New Technology: Beneficial or Dangerous?
Academic level: Bachelor
Paper format: MLA
Corporate Social Responsibility
Academic level: Bachelor
Paper format: Harvard
Master’s Prepared Nurse Interview
Academic level: Master
Paper format: APA
The Maya Tribe
Academic level: Undergraduate
Paper format: APA
A theme of mental illness is developed both in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and in Charlotte Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. Each story gradually depicts progressing insanity of its main characters. Both Yellow Wallpaper and Metamorphosis develop an idea of how important family support and overall environment families create is to help mentally challenged people gradually come back to reality.
A family is a crucial factor in the development of mental instability in Yellow Wallpaper and Metamorphosis. However, in Yellow Wallpaper the woman’s mental instability is evidently being neglected by her husband and her brother, even though both of them are physicians. Neither John, her husband, nor her brother are concerned about her growing insanity and choose to take it for a simple depression.
The case of Gregor Samsa is completely different. His transformation into a bug is seen as a repulsive and burdensome event by his parents and sister. Samsa’s family immediately starts treating him like a sick inhuman creature, which gradually results in his complete loss of senses and death. John’s attitude towards his wife is different as he simply tries to ignore her illness. However, the outcome of both short stories is the same, and both characters finally find themselves completely separated from the real world.
Apart from family, there are other factors that influence the development of mental illness in these short stories. The rooms both characters find themselves locked in are incredibly important here. Both George and the woman are completely separated from the real, sane world and cannot leave their rooms, which plays a great part in the progress of their illness.
Characters’ thoughts and emotions as well had a specific impact on their state of mind. As far as we observe Gregor, his main concern has always been his family and their financial position in our insecure world. The woman’s thoughts were practically the same. The sense of the responsibility for the loved ones connects both characters and gives neither of them a chance to get some rest and simply relax for a while.
We never know about the origins of their illnesses; however, one can suppose that the main cause of Gregor’s pitiful state was his overwork, while in the woman’s case it was probably postnatal depression. Anyway, both characters could have been taken better care of if they were surrounded by love and proper medical treatment. Thus, family role and their attitude towards mentally ill people is seen as a major issue in the development of worsening mental conditions of the main characters in Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Charlotte Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper.
This compare and contrast essay sample could easily get you a B+ or an A- (but of course, you cannot just copy paste and turn in to your professor — this may result in plagiarism accusation). If however, you hope for a solid A, let’s take a quick look at what’s good and what’s not so good about this piece of writing.
Topic introduction: an author makes his major points clear in the introduction, which is essential for academic writing. Plus, he briefly describes his topic, which is another must in an essay introduction.
Logical subdivision into paragraphs: another great thing about his paper is a clear and easy to follow subdivision into paragraphs. Note how the author describes one particular thought per paragraph and makes sure there is always a logical transition to the next point.
New information in conclusion: a huge drawback of this paper is that it mentions new information ( we do not know any particular details about characters’ illness) in conclusion. Plus, a student makes an assumption in the concluding paragraph, which is another big flaw. Always remember that your conclusion should only restate facts you have already analyzed.
No emotional hook: while this paper is very detailed and easy to follow, it has little emotional appeal (even though this particular subject leaves plenty of room for it).
On the face of it, James Ballard’s Subliminal Man and William Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell have nothing in common. Ballard explores the issue of consumer-oriented society, drawing a picture of a post-modern city, filled with identical products that are being renovated each couple of months. Blake, on the contrary, analyzes religious and philosophical themes that seem to have no connection to the actual world, which explains why his action is set in unrealistic places and is filled with mythological beings. Nevertheless, both of these stories describe society’s impact on an individual. Both Blake and Ballard emphasize an idea how easily people’s thoughts and actions can be influenced and controlled. Through their highly unrealistic settings, we are exposed to the idea of mind’s fragility and are forced to see the effect of our blind, thoughtless following socially acceptable patterns without any personal evaluation or analysis.
Apart from merely depicting an anti-utopian society, obsessed by consumerism, Ballard describes a community with no personal freedom of choice. He draws attention to the identical pattern of life most people live, which is vividly shown through their cars of the “same model, same styling, same color, year after year” (Ballard 3). This ‘sameness’ in common everyday devices exaggerates the ‘sameness’ in the way of living and thinking. “We might as well stop thinking” (Ballard 2), suggests Ballard through Hathaway, the only character who, mostly due to owing nothing, managed to retain “his freedom intact” (Ballard 3). Ballard draws our attention to the society, whose ideals were imposed upon them, and explains that most people do not seem to notice it or to care about it. His depiction of a faceless crowd, with identical thoughts, identical actions, identical desires exaggerates an idea that people have “no real freedom of choice” (Ballard 11) unless they start choosing for themselves, without paying attention to socially imposed dogmas.
Similar ideas are evident in William Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Even though this work focuses on religious dogmas, Blake still explores rules and conventions that were imposed upon our society. This work might seem sacrilegious on the face of it; however, with a closer look, Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell exaggerates an idea of human nature divinity and condemns church hypocrisy: “they pronounc’d that the Gods had order’d such things…men forgot that All Deities reside in the Human breast” (Blake 5). Just as Ballard mocks at blind thoughtless consuming, Blake mocks at people whose religious attitudes are socially imposed rather self-acquired. Blake strengthens the fact that religious institutions have nothing to do with actual beliefs, as all of them are but social formations: “a System was formed, which some took advantage of, and enslav’d the vulgar” (Blake 5).
Just like Ballard describes people consuming to avoid inflation, Blake depicts people following religious paths in order to escape eternal torment. Blake emphasizes an idea of the necessity of personal evaluation and urges people to think before they start believing, “for man has closed himself up till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern” (Blake 6).
Thus, dealing with different issues and problems, Ballard’s Subliminal Man and Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell still explore one similar subject – a subject of freethinking. According to these authors, distinguishing between good and evil is a crucial skill for every human being. However, even more important is an ability to make one’s own choice, which can only be done if one’s mind is free from other people’s influence.
As already mentioned, this compare and contrast essay example thoroughly analyses the first item and then moves on to the second one, which is another acceptable approach for academic writing. And, just like our first sample, it does have its strong and weak points. Let’s quickly discuss them below.
Detailed analysis in the main body: this author carefully approaches the subject and closely analyses both short stories, which will score a lot of points for a comparative essay in literature.
Lots of external evidence: another strong aspect of this paper is lots of textual examples — when writing about literature, evidence from original text is always a must.
Lengthy introduction: while an author does a great job introducing his topic, it would be better to make introduction shorter. All in all, lengthier, more detailed intros are acceptable — but, for longer essays.
No thesis restatement in conclusion: our writer does restate some of the essential points in conclusion and draws logical deductions. However, he fails to restate the thesis, which is unacceptable in academic writing. It would be unwise to expect that your reader remembers the intro, so you should always restate your thesis (remind your audience of the point you were trying to prove) in the concluding paragraph.
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