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Unit 2 English, Comparative Essay

What does a Comparative Essay look like?


There are no hard and fast rules about the structure of a comparative response,
aside from the fact that it must contain an introduction, body paragraphs and a
conclusion. You are also always responding to a topic, not simply providing
a list of similarities and differences between the two texts. There are two
main approaches that can be adopted in your comparative response:

A block comparison
An integrated comparison

1. Block Comparison

As the name implies, a block comparison involves writing about one text
in one large chunk, or a series of smaller chunks, followed by another
block on the next text. This approach allows you to present your
knowledge about one text before moving on to the next text. In order to
ensure that the blocks are connected, you will need to use carefully
chosen transitions.*While the block comparison tends to be less complex
than the integrated comparison, it provides you with an opportunity to
discuss the similarities and/or differences between the texts in a clear
manner, which may suit those of you who find the comparative response
challenging. The conclusion of a block comparison provides a place to
comment on how the readers understanding of each text has been
enriched and deepened as a result of the comparison.

Example of a block comparison essay structure:

SAMPLE TOPIC: How do the novels Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bront and Girl
with A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier explore the challenges of being a
woman in a male dominated world?

Introduction
Introduce both texts Both Charlotte Bront and Tracy Chevalier explore the challenges of being a
and your contention woman in a male dominated society through the main characters Jane in Jane
Signal the direction of Eyre and Griet in Girl with a Pearl Earring. It is through the protagonist, Jane,
your comparison that Bront demonstrates how difficult it is to survive in a world where social
expectations of gender dictate a womans destiny, particularly a woman who is
considered to be plain looking and does not have any material wealth to bring
to a marriage. On the other hand, through the protagonist of Griet, the wide
eyed muse who has her portrait painted by the artist Vermeer, Chevalier
shows the dangers of trying to rise above your station in life, as dictated by
society.
Unit 2 English, Comparative Essay
First body paragraph
In the beginning of the novel, Jane does not follow the social expectation of
Analyse your first text
marriage. In the context of the times, the chances of a good marriage are
in relation to the topic
increased if the woman is in the possession of two things: a beautiful face and a
dowry. Jane lacks both, as she is repeatedly reminded that if she were a nice,
pretty child, then her fortunes might be different. The absence of a benefactor
also contributes to her bleak prospects as she finds herself having to work as a
governess in order to survive.

Second body paragraph


Analyse your second However, in Girl with a Pearl Earring, Griet is aware that when Pieter looks her
text in relation to the over as if she were a plump chicken he was considering roasting that he has
topic chosen his wife, and she knows what this will mean for her. Although she finds
only his bloody apron displeasing to the eye, she must accept the reality that
once arrangements have been made between her parents and Pieter, she is being
passed into the hands of a man. This demonstrates the restrictions upon her as
a woman entering into marriage, which is an institution dominated by males.

Third body paragraph Both texts present protagonists who are constrained by gender in the context or
Discuss points of patriarchal society. Although Griet fantasises about a different life, she ultimately
similarity between both accepts her destiny to become the acceptable wife of Pieter
texts

Fourth body paragraph On the other hand, Janes manages to overcome of the limits of gender that
Discuss points of existed in the nineteenth century Victorian England by showing signs of wanting
difference between to be financially independent from her husband
both texts

Conclusion Although Jane attempts to be equal with her husband by bringing her own
Finalise and restate wealth and independence to the marriage, by marrying a blind man who needs
your response to the constant care and attention, Jane embodies the stereotype of a good wife. In this
topic way, both texts are connected in the way they reveal how women can be
Comment on the way challenged in their lives in a male dominated world.
the comparison has
enriched your
understanding of an
aspect of one or both
texts

2. Integrated comparison

The integrated comparison is structured so that each paragraph discusses both


texts. Each point of comparison is explored in detail and the impact of viewing
the texts in light of each other is commented on throughout the discussion. This
means that you deal with both texts at the same time as you move through the
key points of comparison. Textual evidence is a key component in each
paragraph, supporting the main points. The use of transitions to connect ideas is
very important.
Unit 2 English, Comparative Essay

Example of an integrated comparison essay structure:

SAMPLE TOPIC: How do the novels Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bront and Girl
with A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier explore the challenges of being a
woman in a male dominated world?

Introduction
Introduce both texts Both Charlotte Bront and Tracy Chevalier explore the challenges of being a
and your contention woman in a male dominated society through the main characters Jane in Jane
Make a broad Eyre and Griet in Girl with a Pearl Earring. It is through the protagonist, Jane,
statement about the that Bront demonstrates how difficult it is to survive in a world where social
similarities and or expectations of gender dictate a womans destiny, particularly a woman who is
differences in both considered to be plain looking and does not have any material wealth to bring
texts in relation to the to a marriage. On the other hand, through the protagonist of Griet, the wide
topic eyed muse who has her portrait painted by the artist Vermeer, Chevalier
Signal the direction of shows the dangers of trying to rise above your station in life, as dictated by
your comparison society.

First body paragraph


In the beginning of the novel, Jane does not follow the social expectation of
Analyse the points of
marriage. Jane lacks both, as she is repeatedly reminded that if she were a nice,
similarity from both
pretty child, then her fortunes might be different. The absence of a benefactor
texts relating to
also contributes to her bleak prospects as she finds herself having to work as a
characters
governess in order to survive. In a similar way, Griet is clearly bound by the
expectations of her gender in Dutch society, though she might not be aware of it
in the same way Jane is

Second body paragraph


Analyse points of In the plot of both texts, writers Chevalier and Bronte outline the different ways
similarity from both in which women struggle from the confines of their roles in society, with
texts relating to plot experiences of internal conflict

Third body paragraph Both texts present protagonists who are constrained by gender in the context or
Analyse points of patriarchal society. Although Griet fantasises about a different life, she ultimately
similarity from both accepts her destiny to become the acceptable wife of Pieter In the context of
texts relating to the times, the chances of a good marriage are increased if the woman is in the
setting/context possession of two things: a beautiful face and a dowry

Fourth body paragraph On the other hand, Janes manages to overcome of the limits of gender that
Analyse points of existed in the nineteenth century Victorian England by showing signs of wanting
difference from both to be financially independent from her husband
texts
Unit 2 English, Comparative Essay
Conclusion Although Jane attempts to be equal with her husband by bringing her own
Finalise and restate wealth and independence to the marriage, by marrying a blind man who needs
your response to the constant care and attention, Jane embodies the stereotype of a good wife. In this
topic way, both texts are connected in the way they reveal how women can be
Comment on the way challenged in their lives in a male dominated world.
the comparison has
enriched your
understanding of an
aspect of one or both
texts

*What are transitions in writing a Comparative Essay?

Comparative writing often includes a range of transitions that signal to the


reader whether the focus of the piece will be on the similarities, differences or a
combination of both in the two texts.

To show similarities: To show difference/differences


Along the same lines Although
In a similar way Conversely
Similarly Even though
In the same way However,
Likewise In contrast
In a similar fashion Nevertheless
On the contrary
On the one hand
On the other hand
Regardless
Whereas
While