How do you structure a compare and contrast essay for three characters? I have to compare and contrast Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras and I need to have 5 quotes minimum per paragraph. I was...

How do you structure a compare and contrast essay for three characters?

I have to compare and contrast Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras and I need to have 5 quotes minimum per paragraph. I was thinking I would write 3 body paragraphs, each one going to each character. For each paragraph I am going to talk about how the characters reacted, and the things they did to avenge their fathers' deaths. 

Then maybe in the conclusion talk about the similarities between the three, and then sum up how they all venged their fathers.

Do you think that is good enough?

2 Answers | Add Yours

sciftw's profile pic

sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

You have the general gist of a compare and contrast essay.  I would recommend that you don't save the similarity comparison until the conclusion though.  The conclusion is where you will highlight things that you have already discussed and steer your reader toward a reason to care about the similarities and differences that you have discussed in the body of the essay.  

The compare and contrast essay, by definition, asks you to explain both similarities and differences present within a piece.  It doesn't matter that you have to compare and contrast two or ten characters.  What matters is that you successfully identify things that all of your chosen characters have in common and don't have in common.  Then you must provide evidence to support your opinions.  The evidence is key.  Without it, your essay will sound like you are just making stuff up.  That's why your teacher has the five quote per paragraph requirement.  Five quotes per paragraph is a lot though.  Double check that requirement, and make sure it's not five quotes total.  

Your initial concept is fine, but I think it will be a tough essay.  That's because you have chosen to compare and contrast the characters' actions.  I think that you will find it easier to compare and contrast their personalities and attitudes.  Those characteristics will be what drive character actions.  But by comparing and contrasting personalities, you have a lot more avenues to pursue for your supporting quotes.  

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mizzwillie's profile pic

mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

The compare and contrast essay requires you to look at the similarities among the 3 characters but also to contrast the differences among the 3 characters.  Considering that you need 5 quotes per paragraph, these paragraphs will be quite long.  I would double check that requirement.  I would first make a list of the three characters and a column of similarities and differences among the three.  You can then structure your essay with the similarities and differences among the characters using the points you have listed. I think if you structure your essay around the characters as you plan, you will have a lot of repetition.  Maybe look at two similarities and one difference especially the idea of revenge.  Try writing one paragraph your way, one my way and see which one works the best for you. 

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