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10 Great Essay Writing Tips
Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.
Prepare to Answer the Question
Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.
Plan Your Essay
Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.
Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable
You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
View It as a Conversation
Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.
Provide the Context in the Introduction
If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.
Explain What Needs to be Explained
Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.
Answer All the Questions
After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.
Stay Focused as You Write
Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.
Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread
When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.
Avoid Filling the Page with Words
A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.
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University Writing Lessons
A Creative Commons University Writing Resource
Writing the Critical Comparison (Lesson D)
To produce a critical comparison, we apply all the summary and critical thinking work about two articles to an outline based on shared categories for comparison. We need to make decisions about how best to organize a comparison, depending on the type of information involved.
This lesson begins by introducing the basic components and structure of a comparison argument. Then, you will practice by filling in an outline template for the comparison essay.
This lesson draws on knowledge of two articles. If you haven’t already, you will want to read them now.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants . On the Horizon , 9(5). Retrieved 5 October 2001, from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20 Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
Wohlsen, M. (2016). Digital literacy is the key to the future, but we still don’t know what it means . WIRED . Retrieved 14 April 2016, from http://www.wired.com/2014/09/digital-literacy-key-future-still-don’t-know-means/
You do not need to have completed Lesson C to enjoy this lesson. If you haven’t completed it, you can use the following resources to help you in this lesson:
- Critical Thinking Questions (Reference)
- Critical Thinking Questions (Practice)
Identify Components of a Comparison
A comparison argument might be the basis of an entire essay or a smaller part of a larger work. In every case however, a comparison always includes these 3 core components.
Select a Structure of Comparison
Comparison arguments can be structured in two different ways: by item or by category .
When deciding how to structure a comparison argument, we need to decide between these two basic structures. To do this, we need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each structure.
Answer the following questions to reflect on when and why you might best use each comparison structure.
- What do you think the advantages might be of each pattern of organization? Organization by item allows you to focus on gaining a complete understanding of the arguments and ideas in each article. Organization by category allows for more direct comparison of the articles through the discussion.
- What do you think would be the most suitable pattern of organization for the Prensky and Wohslen essay we have been developing? Because we are focused on understanding the different ways each author defines terms and approaches ideas about digital literacy, organization by category would be more suitable. This type of organization is almost always the most effective structure when you really want to understand points of intersection and divergence in two articles.
Download Sample Answers
Completing the Outline
We have already done plenty of work towards developing our critical comparison essay. We know why and how we want to compare the articles. We have completed a large amount of summary work and critical thinking to support our content.
The final stage is to put all this work into an outline, ready for writing.
Consider this template for developing an outline for a critical comparison essay.
Now, it’s your turn. Using the template, put together an outline for the critical comparison of the Prensky and Wohlsen articles.
Follow the questions in the outline template and fill in the content. Use the information and ideas about the articles that you have developed through this lesson. You can also use information from the sample answers. As well, you may find that you get new ideas about the articles as you are working. Go ahead and include them too.
When you have finished this activity, you can check the sample answers.
Prensky and Wohlsen
- Debate exists around what digital literacy means and the best ways to ensure the education system can provide a younger generation the digital literacy they need to be successful.
- This essay will explore two articles that participate in this debate – Prensky’s 2001 article “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” and Wohlsen’s 2014 article “Digital Literacy is the Key to the Future, But We Still Don’t Know What It Means.”
- Thesis: The different definitions of digital literacy offered by Prensky and Wohlsen shape their arguments about how to achieve it, and the role teachers play in ensuring it is fostered in their students. While Prensky sees a digitally literate youth driving changes to the education system, Wohlsen sees a need to change the education system to ensure we develop a digitally literate youth.
- The essay will be organized around three categories of comparison – defining digital literacy, achieving digital literacy, and the role of education.
Category 1 – How should we define digital literacy? Why?
- Prensky defines digital literacy as the ability to use digital technology effortlessly. He also includes particular use patterns, such as a preference for speed and multi-tasking.
- Wohlsen defines digital literacy as an understanding of the “logic of coding” or “computational thinking,” in direct opposition to, simply, the ability to use the technology. Wohlsen’s extension of this definition past Prensky’s might, in part, be due to developments in the 13 years between when the articles were written.
- Prensky’s argument is motivated by his primary focus – to argue for computer-based innovations in teaching and course delivery. His focus is primarily on the potential to use digital technology in the classroom. In contrast, Wohlsen’s definition matches his own goal. He is looking ahead to the needs of industry and the job market, and is concerned with the problem of raising a generation with the skills society needs. Because of this different definition, Wohlsen’s focus is on making sure we teach children how to become digitally lit erate, rather than assuming that they already are.
Category 2 – How can we achieve digital literacy?
- Wohlsen’s primary purpose is to emphasis techniques and opportunities to provide digital literacy to today’s youth. He showcases different camps and activities that are designed to take children beyond using technology into an understanding of its inherent logic. His warning is that if we don’t understand these skills as necessary for digital literacy, we will not foster these opportunities to achieve it. In contrast, Prensky warns that if we don’t foster the “digital natives’” literacy, we will alienate them.
- Wohlsen’s arguments for achieving digital literacy assume a very central role for algorithm and data, for computational logic, in society. While this is true, and his evidence seems to support this, he relies on evidence solely within the technology field and this may overstate the significance of these skills in society.
- Prensky’s position makes the difficult assumption that all younger people – his “digital natives” – are inherently literate in technology, drawing on arguments about brain development; in other words, they don’t need to achieve it. The problem here is that his argument erases issues of class or geography that impede access for some young people to technology skills. There is little space in Prensky’s argument to discuss what happens when youth don’t have skills in using technology. Wohlsen’s argument would be much better at finding solutions to closing the skill gap in technology that emerges due to class and geography.
Category 3 – What role does education play in achieving digital literacy?
- Both writers share, however, the view that the education system is primarily responsible for meeting the needs of digital literacy, and that teacher knowledge is the primary impediment to this.
- And both indicate the challenge of educating teachers so that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the needs of their students. Again, because of differences in their definition of digital literacy, the emphasis on what teachers need to learn and do is different. For Prensky, the challenge is for teachers to teach differently, embracing the use of technology and emphasis on multi-tasking and speed, in order to engage students. For Wohlsen, the challenge is one of knowledge – teachers cannot teach an understanding of code and algorithm if they don’t have it themselves.
- The debate around digital literacy demonstrates several tensions in society as we learn to incorporate digital technology into every aspect of our lives. First, the differences in how each author defines digital literacy over the 13-year period indicates our evolving understanding of the skills we will need in a technology-driven society. Second, it’s crucial that we don’t assume our younger generation has all the skills they need; rather, we need to assess these needs on an on-going basis as our technologies change and as our relationship to those technologies changes.
- ← Thinking Critically (Lesson C)
- Study Room 3 – Research and Annotation →
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Writing a comparative essay
This week, Insight writer and English teacher Melanie Flower outlines steps you can take to write your best comparative essay.
The comparative essay is still a relatively new element of VCE English, only becoming part of the Study Design in 2016. However, while the Area of Study is new, your essay should still have a clear and largely familiar structure, with an introduction, body and conclusion. Last year every topic in Section B of the VCE English examination included the word ‘compare’, and it is essential to note that the comparison of texts is the central requirement for this response, even if the word does not explicitly appear in the topic.
The comparative essay can be tackled in a variety of ways, and it is worth experimenting with different approaches throughout the semester to find the one that suits your strengths.
Read the topic carefully
Make sure that you understand exactly what the topic is asking you to do. The topic might invite a broad thematic comparison, which requires a thoughtful understanding of the ways a particular theme is explored in both texts. Other topics focus on an aspect of the texts’ construction, such as characterisation or setting, and require you to show an understanding of the texts’ form and genre.
You could also encounter a topic that contains one or two quotes. This type of topic necessitates a very thorough knowledge of your texts, as you need to recognise the context of each quote, identify the key ideas being addressed in each, and understand how these ideas are explored in both texts.
Give roughly equal weight to each text
Each text pairing has been carefully chosen to offer points of comparison, in terms of both similarities and differences. While you may have a preference for one text over the other, it is essential that you do not allow this to limit the scope of your discussion. One easy way to make sure that you are addressing both texts equally is to balance every point, example or quote from one text with an equivalent from the other. This can be done in the planning stages, giving you a wealth of material to use in your essay.
Choose your preferred structure
The broad structure of a comparative essay is already very familiar to you, and consists of an introduction, several body paragraphs and a conclusion. The introduction should include a clear contention that alerts the reader to your response to the topic, as well as the main ideas your essay will explore. It must contain references to both texts. Similarly, your conclusion should summarise the points you have made and leave the reader with a clear understanding of your position on the topic. These elements are common to all analytical text response essays. The difference in a comparative response is in the way the body paragraphs are structured and organised. You essentially have two basic options for the body: the block approach or the woven approach.
- The block approach: This approach involves devoting a paragraph or two to each text, examining the ways each of them address the ideas raised by the topic. The final body paragraphs pull this material together and discuss the similarities and differences between the texts’ approach to the central ideas explored in the essay. This structure appears straightforward, but it can be challenging to maintain a strong connection between the texts when discussing them in isolation. A careful use of linking words is essential to ensure that the essay is cohesive and the comparison of texts remains at the fore.
- The woven approach: Using a more sophisticated structure, the woven essay draws evidence from both texts within each body paragraph. Topic sentences focus on an aspect of the ideas raised by the topic rather than on individual texts or characters, leaving you free to explore material from both sources in the paragraph. It can be challenging to move between two texts, although with practice, this will become easier. One useful strategy is to begin your discussion of a particular idea with a sentence addressing text 1. Then start the next sentence with a linking word or phrase that leads to a statement about text 2’s perspective on the same idea. A third sentence links both texts, adding an overall position statement. This approach allows you to move smoothly between the texts while also engaging in deep analysis of their ideas.
Focus on differences as well as similarities
We tend to be very alert to similarities between texts, which are usually relatively simple to identify; however, often the most interesting discussion will devolve from a consideration of the differences. These provide an opportunity to explore contrasting situations and points of view, thus demonstrating your engagement with both the texts and the ideas they present.
Use linking words and phrases
When moving the discussion between texts, regardless of the overall essay structure you have chosen, use appropriate linking words and phrases to maintain fluency and cohesion. These links help your reader to understand the connection between the ideas you are discussing, whether they are similarities or contrasts.
Phrases that you can use to discuss similarities include:
similarly, likewise, in the same way, also, along similar lines, in the same fashion .
Phrases useful for indicating contrast include:
in contrast, on the other hand, unlike (text 1), regardless, however, conversely, on the contrary, nevertheless .
Used purposefully, these words and phrases help guide your reader through your discussion, ensuring that they understand the relationship between the texts and the ideas explored in your response.
Explore a range of elements
To add depth to your response, consider a variety of textual elements in your discussion. While the topic may prompt you to focus on character or theme, your response will have more depth if you are able to draw other aspects of the texts into your discussion. You could note the impact of the narrative voice, reflect on how structure shapes a reader’s responses, consider the influence of genre on the texts’ construction, or acknowledge differences in style or authorial purpose. All of these elements provide you with opportunities to consider the texts as constructs, leading to a more complex and sophisticated analysis.
The comparative essay is a challenging, but ultimately satisfying, opportunity to explore intertextual connections. By considering the different perspectives offered by carefully paired texts, you can enrich your understanding of both texts and draw new meanings from them. Ultimately, the best way to find an essay style that works for you is to experiment. Try a few different approaches, note the feedback you receive from your teacher, and use this to finetune your approach. Remember that examiners are not looking for a single, standard essay format. They are interested in your ideas and your genuine responses to the texts, and whichever structure best allows you to present these is the most appropriate structure for you.
Need help with your comparative essays? Insight has two Insight Sample Essays for each List 2 text comparison for English. Each high-level essay features annotations with assessor comments identifying the elements of the essay that work and areas for improvement, as well as tips on how to approach the essay topic and appropriate strategies for analysis.
Insight Sample Essays are produced by Insight Publications, an independent Australian educational publisher.
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Analysis versus recount: what’s the difference?
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The Comparative Essay
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What is a comparative essay?
A comparative essay asks that you compare at least two (possibly more) items. These items will differ depending on the assignment. You might be asked to compare
- positions on an issue (e.g., responses to midwifery in Canada and the United States)
- theories (e.g., capitalism and communism)
- figures (e.g., GDP in the United States and Britain)
- texts (e.g., Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth )
- events (e.g., the Great Depression and the global financial crisis of 2008–9)
Although the assignment may say “compare,” the assumption is that you will consider both the similarities and differences; in other words, you will compare and contrast.
Make sure you know the basis for comparison
The assignment sheet may say exactly what you need to compare, or it may ask you to come up with a basis for comparison yourself.
- Provided by the essay question: The essay question may ask that you consider the figure of the gentleman in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall . The basis for comparison will be the figure of the gentleman.
- Developed by you: The question may simply ask that you compare the two novels. If so, you will need to develop a basis for comparison, that is, a theme, concern, or device common to both works from which you can draw similarities and differences.
Develop a list of similarities and differences
Once you know your basis for comparison, think critically about the similarities and differences between the items you are comparing, and compile a list of them.
For example, you might decide that in Great Expectations , being a true gentleman is not a matter of manners or position but morality, whereas in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall , being a true gentleman is not about luxury and self-indulgence but hard work and productivity.
The list you have generated is not yet your outline for the essay, but it should provide you with enough similarities and differences to construct an initial plan.
Develop a thesis based on the relative weight of similarities and differences
Once you have listed similarities and differences, decide whether the similarities on the whole outweigh the differences or vice versa. Create a thesis statement that reflects their relative weights. A more complex thesis will usually include both similarities and differences. Here are examples of the two main cases:
While Callaghan’s “All the Years of Her Life” and Mistry’s “Of White Hairs and Cricket” both follow the conventions of the coming-of-age narrative, Callaghan’s story adheres more closely to these conventions by allowing its central protagonist to mature. In Mistry’s story, by contrast, no real growth occurs.
Although Darwin and Lamarck came to different conclusions about whether acquired traits can be inherited, they shared the key distinction of recognizing that species evolve over time.
Come up with a structure for your essay
Note that the French and Russian revolutions (A and B) may be dissimilar rather than similar in the way they affected innovation in any of the three areas of technology, military strategy, and administration. To use the alternating method, you just need to have something noteworthy to say about both A and B in each area. Finally, you may certainly include more than three pairs of alternating points: allow the subject matter to determine the number of points you choose to develop in the body of your essay.
When do I use the block method? The block method is particularly useful in the following cases:
- You are unable to find points about A and B that are closely related to each other.
- Your ideas about B build upon or extend your ideas about A.
- You are comparing three or more subjects as opposed to the traditional two.
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How to Write a Comparative Essay
Last Updated: May 19, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,676,417 times.
Perhaps you have been assigned a comparative essay in class, or need to write a comprehensive comparative report for work. In order to write a stellar comparative essay, you have to start off by picking two subjects that have enough similarities and differences to be compared in a meaningful way, such as two sports teams or two systems of government. Once you have that, then you have to find at least two or three points of comparison and use research, facts, and well-organized paragraphs to impress and captivate your readers. Writing the comparative essay is an important skill that you will use many times throughout your scholastic career.
Comparative Essay Outline and Example
How to Develop the Essay Content
- Many comparative essay assignments will signal their purpose by using words such as "compare," "contrast," "similarities," and "differences" in the language of the prompt.
- Also see whether there are any limits placed on your topic.
- The assignment will generally ask guiding questions if you are expected to incorporate comparison as part of a larger assignment. For example: "Choose a particular idea or theme, such as love, beauty, death, or time, and consider how two different Renaissance poets approach this idea." This sentence asks you to compare two poets, but it also asks how the poets approach the point of comparison. In other words, you will need to make an evaluative or analytical argument about those approaches.
- If you're unclear on what the essay prompt is asking you to do, talk with your instructor. It's much better to clarify questions up front than discover you've written the entire essay incorrectly.
- The best place to start is to write a list of things that the items you are comparing have in common as well as differences between them.  X Research source
- You may want to develop a system such as highlighting different types of similarities in different colors, or use different colours if you are using an electronic device.
- For example, if you are comparing two novels, you may want to highlight similarities in characters in pink, settings in blue, and themes or messages in green.
- The basis for your comparison may be assigned to you. Be sure to check your assignment or prompt.
- A basis for comparison may have to do with a theme, characteristics, or details about two different things.  X Research source
- A basis for comparison may also be known as the “grounds” for comparison or a frame of reference.
- Keep in mind that comparing 2 things that are too similar makes it hard to write an effective paper. The goal of a comparison paper is to draw interesting parallels and help the reader realize something interesting about our world. This means your subjects must be different enough to make your argument interesting.
- Research may not be required or appropriate for your particular assignment. If your comparative essay is not meant to include research, you should avoid including it.
- A comparative essay about historical events, social issues, or science-related topics are more likely to require research, while a comparison of two works of literature are less likely to require research.
- Be sure to cite any research data properly according to the discipline in which you are writing (eg, MLA, APA, or Chicago format).
- Your thesis needs to make a claim about your subjects that you will then defend in your essay. It's good for this claim to be a bit controversial or up for interpretation, as this allows you to build a good argument.
How to Organize the Content
- Use a traditional outline form if you would like to, but even a simple list of bulleted points in the order that you plan to present them would help.
- You can also write down your main points on sticky notes (or type them, print them, and then cut them out) so that you can arrange and rearrange them before deciding on a final order.
- The advantages of this structure are that it continually keeps the comparison in the mind of the reader and forces you, the writer, to pay equal attention to each side of the argument.
- This method is especially recommended for lengthy essays or complicated subjects where both the writer and reader can easily become lost. For Example: Paragraph 1: Engine power of vehicle X / Engine power of vehicle Y Paragraph 2: Stylishness of vehicle X / Stylishness of vehicle Y Paragraph 3: Safety rating of vehicle X / Safety rating of vehicle Y
- The advantages of this structure are that it allows you to discuss points in greater detail and makes it less jarring to tackle two topics that radically different.
- This method is especially recommended for essays where some depth and detail are required. For example: Paragraph 1: Engine power of vehicle X Paragraph 2: Engine power of vehicle Y Paragraph 3: Stylishness of vehicle X Paragraph 4: Stylishness of vehicle Y Paragraph 5: Safety rating of vehicle X Paragraph 6: Safety rating of vehicle Y
- This method is by far the most dangerous, as your comparison can become both one-sided and difficult for the reader to follow.
- This method is only recommended for short essays with simplistic subjects that the reader can easily remember as (s)he goes along. For example: Paragraph 1: Engine power of vehicle X Paragraph 2: Stylishness of vehicle X Paragraph 3: Safety rating of vehicle X Paragraph 4: Engine power of vehicle Y Paragraph 5: Stylishness of vehicle Y Paragraph 6: Safety rating of vehicle Y
How to Write the Essay
- Body paragraphs first . Work through all that information you've been compiling and see what kind of story it tells you. Only when you've worked with your data will you know what the larger point of the paper is.
- Conclusion second . Now that you've done all the heavy lifting, the point of your essay should be fresh in your mind. Strike while the iron’s hot. Start your conclusion with a restatement of your thesis.
- Intro last . Open your introduction with a "hook" to grab the reader's attention. Since you've already written your essay, choose a hook that reflects what you will talk about, whether it's a quote, statistic, factoid, rhetorical question, or anecdote. Then, write 1-2 sentences about your topic, narrowing down to your thesis statement, which completes your introduction.
- Organize your paragraphs using one of the approaches listed in the "Organizing the Content" part below. Once you have defined your points of comparison, choose the structure for the body paragraphs (where your comparisons go) that makes the most sense for your data. To work out all the organizational kinks, it’s recommended that you write an outline as a placeholder.
- Be very careful not to address different aspects of each subject. Comparing the color of one thing to the size of another does nothing to help the reader understand how they stack up.  X Research source
- Be aware that your various comparisons won’t necessarily lend themselves to an obvious conclusion, especially because people value things differently. If necessary, make the parameters of your argument more specific. (Ex. “Though X is more stylish and powerful, Y’s top safety ratings make it a more appropriate family vehicle .”)
- When you have two radically different topics, it sometimes helps to point out one similarity they have before concluding. (i.e. "Although X and Y don't seem to have anything in common, in actuality, they both ....”)
- Even the best writers know editing is important to produce a good piece. Your essay will not be your best effort unless you revise it.
- If possible, find a friend to look over the essay, as he or she may find problems that you missed.
- It sometimes helps to increase or decrease the font size while editing to change the visual layout of the paper. Looking at the same thing for too long makes your brain fill in what it expects instead of what it sees, leaving you more likely to overlook errors.
Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
- The title and introduction really catch the reader's attention and make them read the essay. Make sure you know how to write a catchy essay title . Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1
- Quotes should be used sparingly and must thoroughly complement the point they are being used to exemplify/justify. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 2
- The key principle to remember in a comparative paragraph or essay is that you must clarify precisely what you are comparing and keep that comparison alive throughout the essay. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 2
- Avoid vague language such as "people," "stuff," "things," etc. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
- Avoid, at all costs, the conclusion that the two subjects are "similar, yet different." This commonly found conclusion weakens any comparative essay, because it essentially says nothing about the comparison. Most things are "similar, yet different" in some way. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
- Some believe that an "unbalanced" comparison - that is, when the essay focuses predominantly on one of the two issues, and gives less importance to the other - is weaker, and that writers should strive for 50/50 treatment of the texts or issues being examined. Others, however, value emphasis in the essay that reflects the particular demands of the essay's purpose or thesis. One text may simply provide context, or historical/artistic/political reference for the main text, and therefore need not occupy half of the essay's discussion or analysis. A "weak" essay in this context would strive to treat unequal texts equally, rather than strive to appropriately apportion space to the relevant text. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
- Beware of the "Frying Pan Conclusion" in which you simply recount everything that was said in the main body of the essay. While your conclusion should include a simple summary of your argument, it should also emphatically state the point in a new and convincing way, one which the reader will remember clearly. If you can see a way forward from a problem or dilemma, include that as well. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1
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- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/comparing-and-contrasting/
- ↑ http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/specific-types-of-writing/comparative-essay
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/comparing-and-contrasting/
- ↑ http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/how-write-comparative-analysis
- ↑ https://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/style_purpose_strategy/compare_contrast.html
- ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/10-7-comparison-and-contrast/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html
- How to Structure Paragraphs in an Essay
About This Article
To write a comparative essay, start by writing an introduction that introduces the 2 subjects you'll be comparing. You should also include your thesis statement in the introduction, which should state what you've concluded based on your comparisons. Next, write the body of your essay so that each paragraph focuses on one point of comparison between your subjects. Finally, write a conclusion that summarizes your main points and draws a larger conclusion about the two things you compared. To learn how to do research for your essay, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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A Critical Comparison of Two Readings Essay (Critical Writing)
The Chinese community has attracted a lot of attention from scholars especially from the western country. China as a country remains as one of the most observed nations in the world today. One possible explanation is the fact that it is regarded as an emerging and a significant economic power house.
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Scholars have zeroed in on several attributes of this community. These range from the economy, as indicated above and social aspects of the society.
The polity is such one attribute of the society that is addressed by contemporary scholars. This is given the fact that China, according to political analysts in the western countries, is not exactly the epitome of democracy in the world. But despite this fact, the country has recorded improved economic performance, bringing to fore the question whether democracy is really inextricably tied to economic growth and stability.
Ogden Suzanne and Peerenboom Randall are among some of the scholars that have written extensively on China and her polity. One of Ogden’s writings in this topic is the book Inklings of Democracy in China, a book published in the year 2002 by Harvard University Press in Cambridge. On his part, Peerenboom has in his collection the book China’s Long March towards Rule of Law, published by Cambridge University Press.
This paper is going to critically compare the two writings above. The author will compare chapter 11 of Peerenboom’s book, the chapter titled “rule of law, democracy, and human rights” (pp. 513-547), and chapter 5 of Ogden’s book, the chapter titled “individual rights, democracy and a cohesive community”.
The author will compare, among others, the objectives of the two authors, the methods they use in delivering their message, their points of convergence and divergence in their arguments, and in conclusion, the article that this author considers more helpful and informative in this area.
Objectives of the Authors
There are some similarities and some differences in the objectives of the two authors as they write in the chapters analyzed here.
Similarities in Objectives
One major similarity is the fact that both of these authors have the objective of analyzing the Chinese society. In chapter 11, Peerenboom analyses the relationship between the rule of law, democracy and human rights within the Chinese context. He first gives a brief definition of each of the three key terms (rule of law, democracy and human rights) and then proceeds to locate them within the Chinese society.
Ogden similarly addresses the Chinese community. On her part, she analyses the relationship between individual rights, democracy and social stability within the Chinese community. Like Peerenboom, Ogden also provides an abstract definition of key terms such as rights (individual and human rights), democracy and community cohesiveness. She then proceeds to situate these aspects within the Chinese society.
Another similarity as far as objectives are concerned among these two writers has to do with the aspect of the society that they address. Both of them address the political sphere of the society. Like other societies, both primitive and civilized, China has several spheres. These, as alluded to before in this paper, include the social structure, the economy among others. But both Ogden and Peerenboom focus on the political sphere of the society. They both analyze democracy, human rights among other aspects of this country’s political sphere.
Both of these authors analyze the Chinese society from the perspective of other civilizations in the world. Specifically, they more or less compare the political situation of the country with that of other western countries. In fact, it can be argued that both Ogden and Peerenboom assume the “we” versus “them” stance when comparing China and the west.
This is vividly captured, for example, when Peerenboom writes that “……some liberals think that China is becoming like us ……they firmly believe China should be becoming more like us ” (Peerenboom 513). This is when Peerenboom is talking about political reform within the Chinese context.
Differences in Objectives between the Two Authors
Some differences, albeit subtle, are discernible between the objectives of the two authors in this text. For example, Ogden appears to be more sympathetic of the Chinese democratic and human rights record. In fact, she seems to justify the democratic status of the country. She argues that democracy in China cannot be defined using the west as the yardstick.
This is vividly captured on page 121, where she writes that “……to suggest that the Chinese necessarily think about freedom (read democracy) as it is thought about in the West is like suggesting that (a person hearing about Christianity for the first time would) want to adopt (it)……” (Ogden 121).
On his part, Peerenboom does not make an effort to justify or rationalize the democratic status in China. He admits that there has been steps made towards democratization, but he does not try to justify the limitations of the status.
Methods used by the Authors
Some critical comparison can also be made between the methods that the two authors use to deliver the message in their respective writings, as well as the language that they employ.
A similarity is discernible as far as the source of data that is presented by these two scholars is concerned. It is a fact beyond doubt that the two scholars do not make use of primary sources of data. This means that Ogden and Peerenboom are not reporting on findings of a study or research that they conducted on the Chinese society.
Rather, they are synthesizing information available from other sources, interpreting it in the context of Chinese society. Both of them make use of information or arguments from other scholars in the field. For example, on page 530, Peerenboom cites a scholar by the name of Daniel Lynch to support his argument on China and political reforms.
Ogden likewise integrates findings of other studies in her arguments. For example, on page 129, she cites a poll that was carried out in China in the 1990s to determine the rights that Chinese associate with freedom. She uses this information to support her assertion that Chinese perceive democracy and human rights differently from people in other countries (read people from the west).
However, there are differences, albeit subtle, that are apparent in the methods that are used by the two authors. For example, both of them use notes to explain further on points made in the text. However, while Ogden makes use of footnotes at the bottom of each page, Peerenboom makes use of endnotes.
This affects the ease with which readers maneuver through the two texts. For example, in the case of Ogden’s text, all the reader has to do is glance at the bottom of the page, while reading Peerenboom requires the reader to flip pages and consult the endnotes, which can be a bit disconcerting.
In conclusion, this author wishes to state that both of the two texts were found to be equally useful and informative in covering the topic. Despite their varying weaknesses and strengths, the two texts compete favorably as far as their usefulness is concerned. This is given the fact that both the authors use information from other sources to support their arguments, among other aspects. The two authors are insightful and provide a balanced coverage of the topic under consideration.
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Beef Up Critical Thinking and Writing Skills: Comparison Essays
Organizing the Compare-Contrast Essay
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The compare/contrast essay is an excellent opportunity to help students develop their critical thinking and writing skills. A compare and contrast essay examines two or more subjects by comparing their similarities and contrasting their differences.
Compare and contrast is high on Bloom's Taxonomy of critical reasoning and is associated with a complexity level where students break down ideas into simpler parts in order to see how the parts relate. For example, in order to break down ideas for comparison or to contrast in an essay, students may need to categorize, classify, dissect, differentiate, distinguish, list, and simplify.
Preparing to Write the Essay
First, students need to select pick comparable objects, people, or ideas and list their individual characteristics. A graphic organizer, like a Venn Diagram or top hat chart, is helpful in preparing to write the essay:
- What is the most interesting topic for comparison? Is the evidence available?
- What is the most interesting topic to contrast? Is the evidence available?
- Which characteristics highlight the most significant similarities?
- Which characteristics highlight the most significant differences?
- Which characteristics will lead to a meaningful analysis and an interesting paper?
A link to 101 compare and contrast essay topics for students provides opportunities for students to practice the similarities and differences such as
- Fiction vs. Nonfiction
- Renting a home vs. Owning a home
- General Robert E. Lee vs General Ulysses S. Grant
Writing the Block Format Essay: A, B, C points vs A, B, C points
The block method for writing a compare and contrast essay can be illustrated using points A, B, and C to signify individual characteristics or critical attributes.
A. history B. personalities C. commercialization
This block format allows the students to compare and contrast subjects, for example, dogs vs. cats, using these same characteristics one at a time.
The student should write the introductory paragraph to signal a compare and contrast essay in order to identify the two subjects and explain that they are very similar, very different or have many important (or interesting) similarities and differences. The thesis statement must include the two topics that will be compared and contrasted.
The body paragraph(s) after the introduction describe characteristic(s) of the first subject. Students should provide the evidence and examples that prove the similarities and/or differences exist, and not mention the second subject. Each point could be a body paragraph. For example,
A. Dog history. B. Dog personalities C. Dog commercialization.
The body paragraphs dedicated to the second subject should be organized in the same method as the first body paragraphs, for example:
A. Cat history. B. Cat personalities. C. Cat commercialization.
The benefit of this format is that it allows the writer to concentrate on one characteristic at a time. The drawback of this format is that there may be some imbalance in treating the subjects to the same rigor of comparing or contrasting.
The conclusion is in the final paragraph, the student should provide a general summary of the most important similarities and differences. The student could end with a personal statement, a prediction, or another snappy clincher.
Point by Point Format: AA, BB, CC
Just as in the block paragraph essay format, students should begin the point by point format by catching the reader's interest. This might be a reason people find the topic interesting or important, or it might be a statement about something the two subjects have in common. The thesis statement for this format must also include the two topics that will be compared and contrasted.
In the point by point format, the students can compare and/or contrast the subjects using the same characteristics within each body paragraph. Here the characteristics labeled A, B, and C are used to compare dogs vs. cats together, paragraph by paragraph.
A. Dog history A Cat history
B. Dog personalities B. Cat personalities
C. Dog commercialization C. Cat commercialization
This format does help students to concentrate on the characteristic(s) which may be may result in a more equitable comparison or contrast of the subjects within each body paragraph(s).
Transitions to Use
Regardless of the format of the essay, block or point-by-point, the student must use transition words or phrases to compare or contrast one subject to another. This will help the essay sound connected and not sound disjointed.
Transitions in the essay for comparison can include:
- in the same way or by the same token
- in like manner or likewise
- in similar fashion
Transitions for contrasts can include:
- nevertheless or nonetheless
- however or though
- otherwise or on the contrary
- in contrast
- on the other hand
- at the same time
In the final concluding paragraph, the student should give a general summary of the most important similarities and differences. The student could also end with a personal statement, a prediction, or another snappy clincher.
Part of the ELA Common Core State Standards
The text structure of compare and contrast is so critical to literacy that it is referenced in several of the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards in both reading and writing for K-12 grade levels. For example, the reading standards ask students to participate in comparing and contrasting as a text structure in the anchor standard R.9 :
"Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take."
The reading standards are then referenced in the grade level writing standards, for example, as in W7.9
"Apply grade 7 Reading standards to literature (e.g., 'Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history')."
Being able to identify and create compare and contrast text structures is one of the more important critical reasoning skills that students should develop, regardless of grade level.
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What Is a Critical Analysis Essay: Definition
What Is a Critical Analysis Essay
Have you ever had to read a book or watch a movie for school and then write an essay about it? Well, a critical analysis essay is a type of essay where you do just that! So, when wondering what is a critical analysis essay, know that it's a fancy way of saying that you're going to take a closer look at something and analyze it.
So, let's say you're assigned to read a novel for your literature class. A critical analysis essay would require you to examine the characters, plot, themes, and writing style of the book. You would need to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses and provide your own thoughts and opinions on the text.
Similarly, if you're tasked with writing a critical analysis essay on a scientific article, you would need to analyze the methodology, results, and conclusions presented in the article and evaluate its significance and potential impact on the field.
The key to a successful critical analysis essay is to approach the subject matter with an open mind and a willingness to engage with it on a deeper level. By doing so, you can gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the subject matter and develop your own informed opinions and perspectives. Considering this, we bet you want to learn how to write critical analysis essay easily and efficiently, so keep on reading to find out more!
Meanwhile, if you'd rather have your own sample critical analysis essay crafted by professionals from our custom writings , contact us to buy essays online .
Critical Analysis Essay Topics by Category
If you're looking for an interesting and thought-provoking topic for your critical analysis essay, you've come to the right place! Critical analysis essays can cover many subjects and topics, with endless possibilities. To help you get started, we've compiled a list of critical analysis essay topics by category. We've got you covered whether you're interested in literature, science, social issues, or something else. So, grab a notebook and pen, and get ready to dive deep into your chosen topic. In the following sections, we will provide you with various good critical analysis paper topics to choose from, each with its unique angle and approach.
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Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Mass Media
From television and radio to social media and advertising, mass media is everywhere, shaping our perceptions of the world around us. As a result, it's no surprise that critical analysis essays on mass media are a popular choice for students and scholars alike. To help you get started, here are ten critical essay example topics on mass media:
- The Influence of Viral Memes on Pop Culture: An In-Depth Analysis.
- The Portrayal of Mental Health in Television: Examining Stigmatization and Advocacy.
- The Power of Satirical News Shows: Analyzing the Impact of Political Commentary.
- Mass Media and Consumer Behavior: Investigating Advertising and Persuasion Techniques.
- The Ethics of Deepfake Technology: Implications for Trust and Authenticity in Media.
- Media Framing and Public Perception: A Critical Analysis of News Coverage.
- The Role of Social Media in Shaping Political Discourse and Activism.
- Fake News in the Digital Age: Identifying Disinformation and Its Effects.
- The Representation of Gender and Diversity in Hollywood Films: A Critical Examination.
- Media Ownership and Its Impact on Journalism and News Reporting: A Comprehensive Study.
Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Sports
Sports are a ubiquitous aspect of our culture, and they have the power to unite and inspire people from all walks of life. Whether you're an athlete, a fan, or just someone who appreciates the beauty of competition, there's no denying the significance of sports in our society. If you're looking for an engaging and thought-provoking topic for your critical analysis essay, sports offer a wealth of possibilities:
- The Role of Sports in Diplomacy: Examining International Relations Through Athletic Events.
- Sports and Identity: How Athletic Success Shapes National and Cultural Pride.
- The Business of Sports: Analyzing the Economics and Commercialization of Athletics.
- Athlete Activism: Exploring the Impact of Athletes' Social and Political Engagement.
- Sports Fandom and Online Communities: The Impact of Social Media on Fan Engagement.
- The Representation of Athletes in the Media: Gender, Race, and Stereotypes.
- The Psychology of Sports: Exploring Mental Toughness, Motivation, and Peak Performance.
- The Evolution of Sports Equipment and Technology: From Innovation to Regulation.
- The Legacy of Sports Legends: Analyzing Their Impact Beyond Athletic Achievement.
- Sports and Social Change: How Athletic Movements Shape Societal Attitudes and Policies.
Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Literature and Arts
Literature and arts can inspire, challenge, and transform our perceptions of the world around us. From classic novels to contemporary art, the realm of literature and arts offers many possibilities for critical analysis essays. Here are ten original critic essay example topics on literature and arts:
- The Use of Symbolism in Contemporary Poetry: Analyzing Hidden Meanings and Significance.
- The Intersection of Art and Identity: How Self-Expression Shapes Artists' Works.
- The Role of Nonlinear Narrative in Postmodern Novels: Techniques and Interpretation.
- The Influence of Jazz on African American Literature: A Comparative Study.
- The Complexity of Visual Storytelling: Graphic Novels and Their Narrative Power.
- The Art of Literary Translation: Challenges, Impact, and Interpretation.
- The Evolution of Music Videos: From Promotional Tools to a Unique Art Form.
- The Literary Techniques of Magical Realism: Exploring Reality and Fantasy.
- The Impact of Visual Arts in Advertising: Analyzing the Connection Between Art and Commerce.
- Art in Times of Crisis: How Artists Respond to Societal and Political Challenges.
Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Culture
Culture is a dynamic and multifaceted aspect of our society, encompassing everything from language and religion to art and music. As a result, there are countless possibilities for critical analysis essays on culture. Whether you're interested in exploring the complexities of globalization or delving into the nuances of cultural identity, there's a wealth of topics to choose from:
- The Influence of K-Pop on Global Youth Culture: A Comparative Study.
- Cultural Significance of Street Art in Urban Spaces: Beyond Vandalism.
- The Role of Mythology in Shaping Indigenous Cultures and Belief Systems.
- Nollywood: Analyzing the Cultural Impact of Nigerian Cinema on the African Diaspora.
- The Language of Hip-Hop Lyrics: A Semiotic Analysis of Cultural Expression.
- Digital Nomads and Cultural Adaptation: Examining the Subculture of Remote Work.
- The Cultural Significance of Tattooing Among Indigenous Tribes in Oceania.
- The Art of Culinary Fusion: Analyzing Cross-Cultural Food Trends and Innovation.
- The Impact of Cultural Festivals on Local Identity and Economy.
- The Influence of Internet Memes on Language and Cultural Evolution.
How to Write a Critical Analysis
When wondering how to write a critical analysis essay, remember that it can be a challenging but rewarding process. Crafting a critical analysis example requires a careful and thoughtful examination of a text or artwork to assess its strengths and weaknesses and broader implications. The key to success is to approach the task in a systematic and organized manner, breaking it down into two distinct steps: critical reading and critical writing. Here are some tips for each step of the process to help you write a critical essay.
Step 1: Critical Reading
Here are some tips for critical reading that can help you with your critical analysis paper:
- Read actively : Don't just read the text passively, but actively engage with it by highlighting or underlining important points, taking notes, and asking questions.
- Identify the author's main argument: Figure out what the author is trying to say and what evidence they use to support their argument.
- Evaluate the evidence: Determine whether the evidence is reliable, relevant, and sufficient to support the author's argument.
- Analyze the author's tone and style: Consider the author's tone and style and how it affects the reader's interpretation of the text.
- Identify assumptions: Identify any underlying assumptions the author makes and consider whether they are valid or questionable.
- Consider alternative perspectives: Consider alternative perspectives or interpretations of the text and consider how they might affect the author's argument.
- Assess the author's credibility : Evaluate the author's credibility by considering their expertise, biases, and motivations.
- Consider the context: Consider the historical, social, cultural, and political context in which the text was written and how it affects its meaning.
- Pay attention to language: Pay attention to the author's language, including metaphors, symbolism, and other literary devices.
- Synthesize your analysis: Use your analysis of the text to develop a well-supported argument in your critical analysis essay.
Step 2: Critical Analysis Writing
Here are some tips for critical analysis writing, with examples:
- Start with a strong thesis statement: A strong critical analysis thesis is the foundation of any critical analysis essay. It should clearly state your argument or interpretation of the text. You can also consult us on how to write a thesis statement . Meanwhile, here is a clear example:
- Weak thesis statement: 'The author of this article is wrong.'
- Strong thesis statement: 'In this article, the author's argument fails to consider the socio-economic factors that contributed to the issue, rendering their analysis incomplete.'
- Use evidence to support your argument: Use evidence from the text to support your thesis statement, and make sure to explain how the evidence supports your argument. For example:
- Weak argument: 'The author of this article is biased.'
- Strong argument: 'The author's use of emotional language and selective evidence suggests a bias towards one particular viewpoint, as they fail to consider counterarguments and present a balanced analysis.'
- Analyze the evidence : Analyze the evidence you use by considering its relevance, reliability, and sufficiency. For example:
- Weak analysis: 'The author mentions statistics in their argument.'
- Strong analysis: 'The author uses statistics to support their argument, but it is important to note that these statistics are outdated and do not take into account recent developments in the field.'
- Use quotes and paraphrases effectively: Use quotes and paraphrases to support your argument and properly cite your sources. For example:
- Weak use of quotes: 'The author said, 'This is important.'
- Strong use of quotes: 'As the author points out, 'This issue is of utmost importance in shaping our understanding of the problem' (p. 25).'
- Use clear and concise language: Use clear and concise language to make your argument easy to understand, and avoid jargon or overly complicated language. For example:
- Weak language: 'The author's rhetorical devices obfuscate the issue.'
- Strong language: 'The author's use of rhetorical devices such as metaphor and hyperbole obscures the key issues at play.'
- Address counterarguments: Address potential counterarguments to your argument and explain why your interpretation is more convincing. For example:
- Weak argument: 'The author is wrong because they did not consider X.'
- Strong argument: 'While the author's analysis is thorough, it overlooks the role of X in shaping the issue. However, by considering this factor, a more nuanced understanding of the problem emerges.'
- Consider the audience: Consider your audience during your writing process. Your language and tone should be appropriate for your audience and should reflect the level of knowledge they have about the topic. For example:
- Weak language: 'As any knowledgeable reader can see, the author's argument is flawed.'
- Strong language: 'Through a critical analysis of the author's argument, it becomes clear that there are gaps in their analysis that require further consideration.'
Get more info about HOW TO WRITE A THESIS STATEMENT
Creating a Critical Analysis Essay Outline
Creating a detailed outline is essential when writing a critical analysis essay. It helps you organize your thoughts and arguments, ensuring your essay flows logically and coherently. Here is a detailed critical analysis outline from our dissertation writers :
A. Background information about the text and its author
B. Brief summary of the text
C. Thesis statement that clearly states your argument
II. Analysis of the Text
A. Overview of the text's main themes and ideas
B. Examination of the author's writing style and techniques
C. Analysis of the text's structure and organization
III. Evaluation of the Text
A. Evaluation of the author's argument and evidence
B. Analysis of the author's use of language and rhetorical strategies
C. Assessment of the text's effectiveness and relevance to the topic
IV. Discussion of the Context
A. Exploration of the historical, cultural, and social context of the text
B. Examination of the text's influence on its audience and society
C. Analysis of the text's significance and relevance to the present day
V. Counter Arguments and Responses
A. Identification of potential counterarguments to your argument
B. Refutation of counterarguments and defense of your position
C. Acknowledgement of the limitations and weaknesses of your argument
A. Recap of your argument and main points
B. Evaluation of the text's significance and relevance
C. Final thoughts and recommendations for further research or analysis.
This outline can be adjusted to fit the specific requirements of your essay. Still, it should give you a solid foundation for creating a detailed and well-organized critical analysis essay.
Useful Techniques Used in Literary Criticism
There are several techniques used in literary criticism to analyze and evaluate a work of literature. Here are some of the most common techniques:
- Close reading: This technique involves carefully analyzing a text to identify its literary devices, themes, and meanings.
- Historical and cultural context: This technique involves examining the historical and cultural context of a work of literature to understand the social, political, and cultural influences that shaped it.
- Structural analysis: This technique involves analyzing the structure of a text, including its plot, characters, and narrative techniques, to identify patterns and themes.
- Formalism: This technique focuses on the literary elements of a text, such as its language, imagery, and symbolism, to analyze its meaning and significance.
- Psychological analysis: This technique examines the psychological and emotional aspects of a text, including the motivations and desires of its characters, to understand the deeper meanings and themes.
- Feminist and gender analysis: This technique focuses on the representation of gender and sexuality in a text, including how gender roles and stereotypes are reinforced or challenged.
- Marxist and social analysis: This technique examines the social and economic structures portrayed in a text, including issues of class, power, and inequality.
By using these and other techniques, literary critics can offer insightful and nuanced analyses of works of literature, helping readers to understand and appreciate the complexity and richness of the texts.
Sample Critical Analysis Essay
Now that you know how to write a critical analysis, take a look at the critical analysis essay sample provided by our research paper writers and better understand this kind of paper!
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