The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both and the reason for doing so. The thesis could lean more toward comparing, contrasting, or both. Remember, the point of comparing and contrasting is to provide useful knowledge to the reader. Take the following thesis as an example that leans more toward contrasting.
Here the thesis sets up the two subjects to be compared and contrasted (organic versus conventional vegetables), and it makes a claim about the results that might prove useful to the reader.
The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. The purpose of conducting the comparison or contrast is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities. For example, if you wanted to focus on contrasting two subjects you would not pick apples and oranges; rather, you might choose to compare and contrast two types of oranges or two types of apples to highlight subtle differences. For example, Red Delicious apples are sweet, while Granny Smiths are tart and acidic. Drawing distinctions between elements in a similar category will increase the audience’s understanding of that category, which is the purpose of the compare-and-contrast essay.
Given that compare-and-contrast essays analyze the relationship between two subjects, it is helpful to have some phrases on hand that will cue the reader to such analysis. See for examples.
The body of the essay can be organized in one of two ways: by subject or by individual points. The organizing strategy that you choose will depend on, as always, your audience and your purpose. You may also consider your particular approach to the subjects as well as the nature of the subjects themselves; some subjects might better lend themselves to one structure or the other. Make sure to use comparison and contrast phrases to cue the reader to the ways in which you are analyzing the relationship between the subjects.
As examples, one can compare and contrast the two mythologies in terms of characters, form and structure, creation myths, and mythology’s relevance to life.
The katana is wielded in a quick-flowing manner with a torque of the grip as well as a push of the hips. Pulling a curved blade in this way makes it slice as it shears. The footwork is more linear with short quick hopping (even shuffling) steps. In contrast to the slicing slash of a curved, single-edged, Japanese blade, Medieval swords were made for hacking, shearing cuts delivered primarily from the elbow and shoulder and employing wide passing steps. The actions are larger with more fast whirling actions as the two edges are employed, the pommel alone gripped, or the hands changed to different positions on the hilt (such as placement of the thumb on the flat of the blade or upon the lip of the cross). As a straight blade it strikes more with a point-of-percussion on the first 6-8 inches of blade down from the point as opposed to the curved katana which uses more of just the first few inches. If we bring into the equation the Medieval bastard-sword with compound-hilt of side-rings and bar-guards as well as the waisted or half-grip handle using various methods of holding, this could also be a significant factor. Such hilts allow for a variety of significant one or two-hand gripping options and gives superior tip control for thrusting and edge alignment.