compare and contrast essay

Beginning Essay 2: The Compare and Contrast Essay

For your second essay, you will be comparing and contrasting two texts. You may have written compare and contrast essays in the past, but this essay will not necessarily follow the same format. We will be focusing on how to make the compare and contrast essay more analytical, and how to avoid the formulaic pitfalls of the compare and contrast genre. 

You will have a few choices in which texts you use, as follows:

Option 1: Compare and contrast The Sixth Sense with one other M. Night Shyamalan movie, either Signs or The Village

(If you choose this option, be aware that you will likely have to spend a little money to rent the films—or possibly buy them, as it may be necessary to rewatch them multiple times in order to gather sufficient evidence for your analysis. However, I encourage you to see if any of the UH libraries have copies, or your local library, or, if you have a DVD player, to purchase inexpensive, used DVD copies of the films, which may also provide supplementary materials you could use in your analysis—providing citations of all the ideas you take from them, of course.)

Option 2: Compare and contrast Sonia Shah’s article in The Nation, “It’s Time to Tell a New Story about the Coronavirus” with Betsy McKay and Phred Dvorak’s Wall Street Journal article, “A Deadly Coronavirus Was Inevitable. Why Was No One Ready?”

Basic Structure

As most college essays must, you should begin with an introduction that catches your reader’s attention, provides them with enough context to follow the rest of the essay, and gives them an idea of what you are going to talk about.

In considering the structure of the main body of your essay, you should pay special attention to Writing Arguments “Comparison/Contrast: Two Formats” (271-72). This section of the textbook provides guidance for thinking critically about how you choose to structure your Comparison/Contrast essay (and you should at all times be thinking critically about the choices you make as a writer).

You will, of course, end with a conclusion paragraph. As I said in the last essay, I do not require you to “restate your thesis statement,” in the same words or different ones, in your conclusion paragraph because I think this is a silly requirement. Other professors feel differently. For our purposes, what your conclusion should do is make a graceful exit from your essay. An essay is a conversation, and by the time you get to the conclusion, the conversation is just about over. Find a polite way to hang up the phone. 


  • due Monday, November 2nd, at 10 a.m.
    • “Submit Essay 2 Here” turnitin link in the Week 12 classroom
  • 5-6 pages double-spaced (not including Works Cited page)
  • You must have a Works Cited page
    • with a citation for each text you summarize, quote, or paraphrase in your essay,
    • and in-text citations (in the body of your essay) that correspond to the citations on the Works Cited page.
  • You must have textual evidence to support your analyses in the form of summary, direct quotes, and paraphrases.
  • MLA format including: 
    • double-spacing
    • 12 point Times New Roman font
    • 1” margins all around
    • Last name and page numbers in the page header
    • Heading on first page with your name, my name, the assignment name, and the due date (Do not put this in the page header. Just put it at the top of page 1 of your essay.)
    • Correct MLA citation, both in-text and on the Works Cited page, of your chosen text, and any other texts you relied on, for all direct quotes and paraphrases that appear in your paper.
  • Introduction
  • Body paragraphs structured in a way that demonstrates
    • understanding of WA p. 271-72, “Comparison/Contast: Two Formats”
    • critical thinking about which structure best suits your essay
  • Conclusion


  • WA p. 108-111, “Comparison/Contrast” and “Strategies for Making Comparison/Contrast More Analytical”
  • WA p. 271-72, “Comparison/Contrast: Two Formats”
  • WAp. 231, “Integrating Quotations Into Your Paper” 
  • Purdue OWL link under “Resources” in the left navigation menu of our Blackboard class, and WA p. 262-63, “MLA Style, 8th Edition”

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