As if writing a standard essay wasn't enough, your teacher hits you with this: a compare and contrast essay. What makes it worse is that it's about itPoems-as if you already knew how to compare and contrast poetry.
How does she expect you not only to decipher and fully explain a poem, butof the? To make matters worse, some of the poetry you read in class this semester may also have been written in a foreign language.
Let's take a step back and start in a language you understand: pop songs. Now pop songs are not poetry. And your instructor probably wouldn't appreciate a essay on the nuances of Pitbull's latest song compared to Twenty One Pilots' new single. But thatesa good place to learn the technique of comparing and contrasting poetry.
Comparing Taylor Swift to Miley Cyrus: Yes, that's right
THE EPIC RAP BATTLE OF ALL TIME!
It's a joke. Demand.
Rather than reenacting a confrontation, I'll show you how to successfully compare and contrast poetry using Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" and Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" as examples.
(If you've been living under a rock, here are links to lyrics bywrecking balljblank space.)
When comparing and contrasting poems, you must first list the similarities and differences, both obvious and subtle. Here's what the list would look like for these two songs:
- Both songs are about dysfunctional or doomed relationships.
- Both songs use violent imagery and language.
- "Wrecking Ball" is more of a lament, while "Blank Space" has a satirical tone.
- Both songs speak of a superficial love where neither can have a deep connection to the other.
- "Blank Space" feels intentionally mischievous, while "Wrecking Ball" makes the relationship violence seem random.
- "Blank Space" uses a variety of offbeat rhymes, while "Wrecking Ball" uses mostly complete rhymes.
Once you have a list of the significant similarities and differences between the works you are comparing, you can proceed to creating your thesis statement.
Remember that pop songs don't have many elements of a poetic work. If you are looking for similarities and differences in the poems you have chosen, be sure to consider themReimschema,Format,Metro, and period.
Creation of a thesis statement for a comparative essay
The thesis statement is arguably the hardest part of writing your essay, but it doesn't have to be intimidating. As you learn to compare and contrast poetry, remember that your thesis should include the following elements:
- A basic one or two sentence summary of what you will discuss throughout the essay.
- An evidence-based opinion or argument that someone might disagree with.
- A balanced sentence structure that gives equal weight to both works.
If you need more information on how to create the perfect thesis, check out this blog atStatement of thesis in five steps.
To present a thesis for my pop song comparison, I must return to my list. What kind of argument would cover most if not all of the points I've listed?
Let's start with a template for simplicity:
Although[Poem 1]us[poetic element 1]j[Poem 2]occupied[poetic element 2], both works contribute to this[common topic].
Using this template, let's add the songs I've chosen as examples and correct the lyrics. A good thesis for comparing these songs might look like this:
Although"wrecking ball"focus-don'tLack of emotional attachment in a relationshipj"empty space"drink moresatirical and insensitive perspective on relationships, both songsUse violent imagery to convey that relationships are often superficial.
Here I have touched on many of the main points of discussion that I intend to address in my essay. I also described what my essay will look like. Also note that it would be reasonable for someone to argueagainstmy assertion that the songs are about the superficiality of relationships: this worthy of discussion makes for a good statement of argument.
To get you started, here are some poetic elements to consider for your thesis:
- narrative voice
- line breaks
You can find more ideas of what to discuss at work by looking at thesepoetic elements.
And you can get more help creating the perfect oneclosing statementhere (tip: choose the type of comparison and contrast essay).
How to Compare and Contrast Poems: The Tennis Match Problem
Unfortunately, you want to avoid tennis games in your editorial office.
When writing comparison essays, students often encounter the tennis match problem when entering body paragraphs. The tennis match refers to when you change the poem or work you are talking about every other sentence or so.
While you want to give equal weight to all the works discussed, you don't want your reader to suffer whiplash every time you switch between them. In other words, “Who would win a tennis match? Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift? is not an ideal title or premise for our example.
Who would win a tennis match? Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift?” It's not an ideal title.
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To work around this problem, you can use one of two methods.
Method 1: One by one
With this method, you analyze one poem in its entirety before diving into the next. That way, your reader has plenty of room to reflect on your points and arguments. However, with this structure one runs the risk of missing the actual comparison of works.
If you choose to explain the works separately, be sure to use phrases like "Although [poem 1] is largely based on..., [poem 2]..." and "unlike [poem 1]...".
Method 2: Switch between paragraphs
The other way to compare and contrast poems is to alternate works in each paragraph. This is how you discuss an element in one poem and continue to discuss the same element in the second poem. Often this method is the easiest for the reader to follow.
When using this structure, make sure you have full-length paragraphs. A full paragraph should include:
- The subject sentence (an argument about the evidence you have)
- Evidence (a direct citation or paraphrase of the work)
- Incorporation (to connect the point back to your thesis statement)
It will make you too good to play tennis.
Want to know what a good compare and contrast essay looks like? Check out these......Examples of poem comparisons.
Final tips for writing a comparative essay
Now that you know the basics and know exactly how to pit Taylor and Miley against each other, you can move on to the big leagues: writing an actual poem comparison essay.
To help you with that, here are some finishing tips:
- If your teacher lets you choose which poems to compare and contrast, select several pairs and make an initial comparison list with each pair. From there you can better see which set would make a better, more substantial essay. Remember, for best results, you want two poems that share a common theme.
- After writing your first draft, read your essay aloud and imagine the tennis match scenario. Is there a lot of back and forth? Will readers understand what you are trying to prove?
- Make sure you use enough evidence to prove your thesis statement. Do this by including direct quotes. Don't forget that you should only have one test per paragraph. You should use the rest of the paragraph to explain why the evidence is important.
And as you work on your final draft, don't forget to keep a second set of eyes on it.Kibin Publisherswill give you insightful advice on how to improve your writing and get a better grade.
Now fill in the blank on your paper, come in like a wrecking ball and impress your teacher with your knowledge of how to compare and contrast poems like a literature teacher.
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