How to Write an Effective Thesis for a Comparative Essay
No matter what your major, there’s usually no escape from English literature and composition classes and a compare-contrast essay assignment. Many students get nervous when their professors ask them to write an essay about the similarities and differences between two or more texts or ideas, especially when writing the thesis for the essay; however, writing a thesis for a compare-contrast essay is not as difficult as you may think.
Read the assignment sheet carefully before you begin so you can follow the professor’s instructions exactly. Each professor usually has his own idiosyncrasies, so underline everything the professor expects you to include in the thesis. While writing the thesis, refer back to the underlined notes. 2
Make a list of similarities and differences between the texts, ideas or events.
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Narrow down similarities and differences to specific ideas to avoid writing a compare-contrast thesis that is too broad. For example the compare-contrast thesis, “The media depict people in different roles compared to the realities of the general population,” is too general.
Begin your statement with words like whereas, while, even though, and although to suggest a contrasting element will follow. For example: Although the media depict most women as housewives and stay-at-home mothers, in reality many women work full time and put their children in daycare.
Make sure the thesis for a compare and contrast essay compares and contrasts two or more ideas. One of the most common basic ways to write a thesis statement for a compare contrast essay is as follows: While Jane Austin’s novel “Pride and Prejudice” underscores themes of pride, prejudice and women and marriage, and Mary Shelly’s story “Frankenstein” reveals themes of madness, the sublime, and justice, it is apparent by juxtaposing these two novels that most women during the early 19th century felt trapped in a patriarchal society that restricted the roles of women, especially in marriage. 6
Familiarize yourself with literary devices other than theme for compare and contrast essays. Rhetorical devices such as allegory, characterization, climax, symbolism, foreshadowing, figurative language, simile, imagery, irony, metaphor, motifs, personification, tone and other devices can add interest to a thesis statement for a compare-contrast essay.
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