What are some compare and contrast essay topics?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One could compare and contrast two characters in a text. What motivates them? Are they static (fundamentally unchanged in the text) or dynamic (undergoing some significant change in the text)? What insights can be gained by contrasting them? Are they foils, illuminating some aspect of the other character via contrast? Or are they more similar? Why would the author make them similar in certain ways?

One could also compare and contrast two settings within a text. Is there a city setting and a country setting, for example? Often, city settings are places that symbolize restriction and rules whereas there is typically more freedom in a country setting. Or, perhaps some of the story takes place in a character's home country and then some of the story takes place in a country that is foreign to him or her? Often, foreign settings give us a unique opportunity to see that character out of his or her comfort zone, to get a better sense of who they are now that they do not have the comfort of the familiar.

You might also compare and contrast the effects of point of view on different texts, or even within the same text. Is the narrator a participant in the story, or merely an observer? Does the narrator know all characters' thoughts and feelings, only one character's, or none at all?  What effects do these differences have on their respective texts?

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