SOME TIPS FOR COMPARE and CONTRAST
If you are writing a paper comparing and contracting characters, symbols, and/or writer’s styles,
the most important is the contrast. Use the similarities as a catalyst to begin to highlight the
differences, and then stick to discussing the differences.
Substantiate contrasts with examples from the texts. Be sure to
the differences, not just tell
about them. In the example below, I argue that the Shelley and Hardy poems approach nature
differently in at least four separate ways, and I use examples from each to demonstrate how
different they are.
Do not overload your paper with lengthy quotations. This paper assignment is short, so you will
need to be concise and selective in what you include. To compress quotations, see if you can
quote only one word instead of an entire phrase, or a phrase rather than a sentence, or a line of
poetry rather than a stanza. In other words, quote the essential parts and cut the rest. If you’re
wondering how to do this, I have done my best to quote leanly in my examples, choosing only to
make a list of words, or choosing the best examples.
Remember that if you are mentioning something that happens in a story, novel, or poem, even if
you are not quoting it, you still need to cite it. See the 2
sentence of example #2 below to see
what I mean.
Make sure your paper is divided up by your ideas, not by the texts. In other words, the structure
of your paper should go by differences you see (subject matter, character attributes, diction, style,
whatever), and then compare/contrast the texts in each of those contexts. Don’t try to say
everything there is to say about each text one at a time and expect the reader to sort it out; this
poor structure makes it possible to write in a way that doesn’t relate one work of literature to
another close enough. The focus is on direct comparisons, so be sure to write plenty of sentences