Structuring Comparative Essay | HSC English

Structuring Comparative Essay

Tegan explains about Structuring Comparative Essay.

  • About Comparative Essay

    About Comparative Essay
    About Comparative Essay

    Today we will begin to examine the structure of the comparative essay. The structure and purpose of a comparative essay is very different from the thematic essay you are used to writing, and the content of the argument will require a very different approach as well.

    You may need to revisit these concepts a few times to gain familiarity with them.

    Today we will cover:

    • Structure of the Introduction
    • Structure of the Body Paragraph
    • Example Body Paragraph
    • Essay Planning
  • What should the Essay look like?

    The Introduction:

    A comparative essay takes a little more ‘setting up’ than a thematic essay. In your introduction, you should:

    1. Justify the comparative study and explain the major link between your texts which makes them suitable for intertextual studies. For example, a comparative study might reveal more about each text and create a synergistic understanding of the connections or perspectives being examined. Or, through contrasting the texts, the effect of contextual values on each text may be better understood. You should mesh ideas from the module and elective rubrics here for structuring comparative essay.
    2. Then, your thesis should focus on the best or most important thing that comparative study of these two texts reveals. Try not to simply go for a theme, like ‘attitudes to love’ as this is not a thematic study, and you want your thesis to be broadly appealing for different types of question. You might talk about how considering contextual values is important because it makes the responder wonder how much the time and place they live in shapes their own opinions.
  • Guide to structuring the Introduction

    Introduction for Structuring Comparative Essay

    1. Address the essay question using keywords and use some words of your thesis to answer it.
    2. Name Text One, with the year it was published in brackets after it.
    3. Indicate the genre, text type and composer of the text.
    4. Give a brief summary of Text One’s cultural context – no more than a sentence.
    5. Name Text Two, with the year it was published in brackets after it.
    6. Indicate the genre, text type and composer of the text.
    7. Give a brief summary of Text Two’s cultural context – no more than a sentence.
    8. Identify why the two texts are to be studied together – mention the most important commentary they have to share that links them etc.
    9. Signpost the main connections/perspectives you are going to discuss, and introduce them in the order they will appear in the body of your essay.
  • Drafting for Structuring Comparative Essay

    Question:   Take your time in writing an introduction to your essay. You will want to consider:

    • The best general thesis that binds all the argument ideas together
    • The best keywords to broadly sketch the time period and context of your texts.
    • Whether the texts have a reputation – i.e. are they well known classics?
    • What can a comparison of these texts really teach us?
  • Guide to Structuring Body Paragraphs

    A comparative essay really requires integrated paragraphs in order to work. Your school may or may not make this mandatory, but it is essential; otherwise you write two mini-essays on each text that just happen to occupy the same page.

    You have already encountered a huge part of how to set out body paragraphs in your ‘What Why Fact How’ study paragraphs, so if you have written your study notes properly, most of the work is done for you for structuring comparative essay.

    Integrated paragraphs are much longer than the type you are used to in your Area of Study essay, where you might have 8-10 paragraphs in your discovery essay, you will only need 3-4 paragraphs for each comparative essay.

    Body Paragraphs:

    1. Topic sentence: introduce the connection/perspective which is in both texts.
    2. What Why and Fact of Text One, explaining how contextual values shape this connection/perspective.
    3. Name a technique and a long quote (2-3 sentences) from Text One to support this.
    4. What Why and Fact of Text Two, explaining how contextual values shape this connection/perspective.
    5. Name a technique and a long quote (2-3 sentences) from Text Two to support this.
    6. Comment on the similarity or difference between the texts, and what has been revealed.
    7. Conclusion sentence: Thus, link that revelation to your question and thesis.
  • Example Body Paragraph

    Question: Underline and annotate the structures in this example paragraph based on the guide.

    The implicit connection of receiving and giving advice between women permeate Letters to Alice and Pride and Prejudice, highlighting this value as relevant to women’s lives as time progresses, because it allows them to have a secure future. The formal epistolary structure of Letters to Alice provides a means of presenting advice that’s uncommon within contemporary society, and establishes Aunt Fay as representative of her 1980s context.

    The mentoring relationship between Alice and Fay is founded through giving advice within letters: “what others say are your faults… may it be carried to the extremes, you strengths, virtues”. Weldon’s juxtaposition of Fay’s advice against criticism of Alice enforces the importance of sharing advice between women as writers in the twentieth century, as she believes it is difficult to obtain meaningful advice and criticism in the 21st century.

    This can also be viewed as the flow of advice moving down the familial social structure based on age, revealing that advice is only allowed to be given by older women – meaning that there is a kind of traditionalist matriarchal structure still present within female communities. Sharing advice between women is also prevalent within Pride and Prejudice, highlighting this as a continuous value relevant to women’s lives.

    Letters provide symbolism of the close relationships between characters, as it was more confidential than public speech and not always subject to strict social conduct. The importance of sharing advice between women is seen through this medium of correspondence, and also reflects advice passing down the familial social structure. Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth’s close relationship gives evidence to this facet of women’s lives in Austen’s early Victorian context.

    “Lizzy, this must go no farther than yourself, or Jane at most”. Mrs. Gardiner’s instructive tone, acting in her nieces best interests, emphasizes the close nature of their relationship – an exception to social norms, as in Austen’s context, relationships were largely created for the ulterior motive of financial security. Thus the implicit connection of sharing advice is seen to be relevant to women’s lives, past and present, in the study of Pride and Prejudice and Letters to Alice.

  • Drafting

    Question:   Write a dot point plan, and then a full draft, of ONE paragraph of your essay.

    You will want to consider the following for structuring comparative essay.

    • The best quotes to illustrate a particular value.
    • The best historical fact to illustrate a particular value.
    • Whether one text may have influenced the other.
    • The significance of this value to human daily life or achievement.
  • Make a further list of Techniques and Quotes

    There will be some important quotes in each text that you haven’t quite figured out how to pair up yet, or that match with a connection that you already have an existent quote for. Don’t disregard these quotes – they are valuable resources and you will probably use all of them at some point for structuring comparative essay.

    For each text, keep a growing list of quotes in a ready-to-use format, like this:

    • Quote + Technique à contextual value.
    • (e.g.) ‘Whilst my physicians by their love are grown / Cosmographers, and I their map…As west and east / In all flat maps—and I am one—are one, /  So death doth touch the resurrection.’ + Metaphysical conceit. (Means that a map can be folded to bring east and west together – i.e. opposites may have a kind of similarity or union.) à Science of cartography which was developing in the early 1600s.

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