How can I write an outline for a comparison paper using two literary works? 

Expert Answers

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The best way to write a paper that compares two works is to select an overall general theme as your thesis statement that will apply to both works. This will be something like, “The two novels, (A) and (B), are very similar (or “are very different”) in their treatment of _____ (life, death, social status, friendship, heroism, etc.).” Then you will want to find 3-5 sub-categories that explain what you mean in your overall thesis. These will become topic sentences for the paragraphs of your essay. For a longer essay, you just come up with more and more topics. Finally, for each of the paragraphs of your essay, you think of several – generally 3-5 or so – specific examples from each work that you can use to show why you believe that the two works are similar (or different).

The general outline of your essay will look something like this:

  1. Introductory Paragraph that states your thesis and a brief summary of your topic paragraphs

  2. Main Paragraph #1 – Sub-Topic that compares the two works

          A, B, C, etc. – make specific comparisons using examples from the two texts

  3. Main Paragraph #2 – Sub-Topic that compares the two works

          A, B, C, etc. – make specific comparisons using examples from the two texts

  4. Main Paragraph #3 – Sub-Topic that compares the two works

          A, B, C, etc. – make specific comparisons using examples from the two texts

  5. Conclusion – remind the reader what you believe you have just proven, in a restatement of your thesis statement

    This sort of outline repeatedly makes the comparisons between the two works. You will compare specific examples in each paragraph, for each of your Topics. By the time you are done, the reader will fully understand why you believe the two works are similar/different.

    Another way to write a comparison essay, though generally less effective, is to start with your claim that the two works are similar/different, and then write the first half of your paper explaining the treatment of that subject in the first work, and then write the second half of your paper explaining the treatment in the second work, and then at the end tie the two together. Many students often find this structure easier to write, but it is not as strong an essay.

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