Sie sind auf Seite 1von 3

Language A English: Language and Literature (HL) DP1

Tips for a Successful Comparative Commentary

WRITING A COMPARATIVE TEXTUAL ANALYSIS


Although you wrote a comparative essay last year in MYP 5, a comparative textual analysis
(or comparative commentary, which you will hear me say sometimes) requires different skills
and a different format than an essay.
PRE-WRITING STEPS
STEP #1: Read the two pieces several times until you know what each is about quite well. As
mentioned in class, mark up the pages, labeling the literary devices and what stands out for
you as the reader. Make a note of the each texts purpose, audience, tone, point of view,
diction, syntax, imagery and time period written. Try and find similarities/ differences in
how the texts are written. Your texts should be covered in writing, underlining and colors!
STEP #2: Make detailed notes about the main ideas you will focus on, and what evidence
(direct quotations or paraphrasing) from the texts will be used to support these points. You
will still have a thesis for a comparative commentary that will be your main point of analysis.
Think of a thesis based on your rough notes and the main theme or idea that is presented in
both pieces.
Here are some things to focus on for the commentary. Discuss as many of them as possible
this will obviously be more than a five-paragraph endeavor:
Content and Purpose: Talk about the themes and meanings in the two pieces. Are they
implicit (hidden) or explicit (clear)? It is important to state the purpose of each piece, such as
to entertain, to inform, or they could have a commercial purpose in the case of
advertisements or travel logs. Who is the intended audience? Also, say whether they are
objective or subjective, with justification such as a quote showing that the writer includes her
personal opinions. When was the piece written?
Point of view: It is necessary to determine whether the writer is the narrator of the piece, then
determine her/his relationship to the reader. They could take up a superior, distance stance or
a more intimate relationship, but remember to explain why (e.g. "to stir the reader's emotions
by getting close to them"). And don't forget a quote to show what you're talking about. You
can also mention whether it is first-person or third-person, whether the writer is omniscient,
and if we can trust them.
Tone: Read the pieces well to determine the tone (acrimonious, joyous, sardonic, pompous,
pensive, etc). Use quotes to show your conclusion. Explain what effect this has on you as the
reader. Does the tone change?
Diction: Are there active or passive verbs, superlatives, lots of adjectives? Explain why the
writer might have chosen this sort of diction. Technical pieces usually have jargon e.g. a
sports article. Are there any diction motifs? For instance: a diction motif of hell can be shown
by words like fire, flame, and torturous heat.

Adapted from: A2 Comparative Commentary. Mapage. Web. 2009.

Language A English: Language and Literature (HL) DP1


Tips for a Successful Comparative Commentary

Imagery: Pick out figurative devices in the pieces. Or perhaps they have none, and only
display literal images like the black cat leaped onto the sofa. Why is this? Imagery can be
useful in persuasive pieces to appeal to the audience, by formulating images in their minds.
Syntax: Does the writer use short sentences or long extended ones? What is the writer's
intention by doing this? Consider if the sentences have subordinate clauses; these may make
sentences cumbersome or awkward, or even drawn out and meditative. How could this help
the writers achieve their purposes?
Conclusion. Did the writers achieve their purposes well? Include a personal opinion such as "I
feel the writer of text a succeeded in entertaining the audience using heightened tone, lots of
imagery, and diverse syntax. Nonetheless, I prefer text b due to its well-chosen diction that
left me quite stimulated."
WRITING STEPS
STEP #3: Write your introduction. The introduction should be brief no more than 100 words.
State what your two pieces of text are and their genre (article, poem, etc). Give one
difference or one similarity between them this will be your thesis. Then state what you will
be analyzing throughout your commentary. For instance "I will analyze the two pieces in
terms of content and purpose, point of view, tone, diction, imagery, and syntax."
STEP #4: Write the body of your commentary. You now need to compare and contrast the
two texts. Do not deal with text A and then text B. Rather, alternate between texts. For
example, talk about the syntax used in one text, then compare or contrast it to the second
text. You should have at least 4 or 5 body paragraphs written this way. Remember to focus of
not only the literary and figurative devices used, but why the author uses them for what
purpose? This will be a major point of comparison or contrast between the texts.
Each body paragraph should include evidence. A good way to ensure that each paragraph is
complete is to follow the format of Point Proof (quotation)- Comment (PPC)
Example body paragraph: The author conveys the idea of fear and terror when he refers to
the house as "desperately dark" and this use of alliteration emphasizes the main character's
feelings as he enters the house. This sharply contrasts with the house in text B which is
described as "a large, welcoming bungalow... ". Here the atmosphere is completely different
and the reader sees
STEP #5: Write your conclusion. When you have mentioned all the key points comparing the
two texts you need to end with a short conclusion. Don't be vague and say that the two texts
have lots of similarities and differences - this is obvious. You can make a generalized point
about how the two texts deal with the same theme but in a different way however try to add
an element of originality. Did you find the texts effective? Is one more effective than the
other? Why? What was the message of each text? Was it effectively conveyed to you, the
audience? Include your personal opinion of the texts here.

Adapted from: A2 Comparative Commentary. Mapage. Web. 2009.

Language A English: Language and Literature (HL) DP1


Tips for a Successful Comparative Commentary

Post-Writing Steps
STEP #6: EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. If this is a summative assessment, you should be writing at least
one draft before you begin your final copy for submission. If this is on an exam, AIS or IB,
leave yourself enough time to read over your paper, check for errors and clarity.
STEP #7: Relax! You are done! But feel sorry for the person who had to mark 32 comparative
textual analyses. And remember she loves chocolate.
SAMPLES
Example of a good introduction:
Text 1a is an article taken from the British broadsheet newspaper The Guardian,
published on July 27, 2003. It deals with the controversial topic of testing cosmetics on
animals. Text lb also deals with the subject of animals, however, unlike text la, it deals with
one animal: the mouse. Being a poem, the text is highly imaginative and visual and the
author, Gillian Clarke, contrasts the natural, idyllic world of The Field-mouse with the
Bosnian crisis erupting in the 1990s. Both texts therefore share the common theme of
animals and human reactions towards them. Being of different genres they clearly do not
share the same focus and deal with the subject matter in contrasting ways. In this analysis,
the point of view, syntax, diction, tone and imagery in both pieces will be analyzed to illustrate
how their theme is similar, but their focus differs.
Example of a good conclusion:
To conclude, the article and poem successfully deal with the subject of animals but in
very different ways. The Guardian's aim was to alert readers of the dangers concerning
animal testing and to provoke emotion in its readers. It successfully does this through its
informative style and reference to key case studies carried out by scientists. On the other
hand, Gillian Clark's The Field-Mouse shows us the plight of one animal but, like The
Guardian, refers to a newsworthy event. This evokes emotion in the reader as it deals with
the sensitive subject of war. Both texts are therefore successful in their aims of informing and
entertaining a wide readership.
Example of incorporating quotations into the body of your text: Point-Proof-Comment
(P-P-C)
As a broadsheet, The Guardian uses a series of techniques used by journalists to grab the
reader's attention. The rhetorical question "How many mice die each year from cosmetic
testing?" opens the article in an effective way, drawing the reader into the world of testing
cosmetics. This contrasts sharply with the more emotive language of The Field-mouse
which describes the mouse as being soft, white, and fluffy. These adjectives give us a
good idea of the kind of mouse the poet is alluding to.

Adapted from: A2 Comparative Commentary. Mapage. Web. 2009.