Structuring a comparative essay

Infographic illustrating how to properly structure a comparative essay - a tasty burger/essay with multiple points vs a dry burger/essay with one

Packing your analysis of two poems into one essay involves planning. There are different ways you could approach writing a comparative essay. These are some points to think about:

  • use the introduction to explain which poems you are writing about
  • try to balance out the detail you include for each poem
  • compare the poems throughout the essay
  • comment on content, themes, ideas and attitudes as well as form, structure and language
  • sum up your thoughts on ways in which the poems are similar and different in your conclusion

Example question

Compare the two poems about family relationships; Walking Away by Cecil Day Lewis and Eden Rock by Charles Causley. Where do they share similarities and differences?

Which of the two essay structures works better when responding to the example essay question?

Structure A

IntroductionHow both talk about family relationships between parents and children
Paragraph 1How Walking Away deals with family relationships - themes and form, structure and language
Paragraph 2 How Eden Rock deals with family relationships - themes and form, structure and language
Paragraph 3 Ways in which they are similar
Paragraph 4 Ways in which they are different
Conclusion Sum up comparison

Structure B

IntroductionHow both talk about family relationships between parents and children
Paragraph 1How the themes and ideas of Walking Away and Eden Rock are similar and different
Paragraph 2 How the form and structure of Walking Away and Eden Rock compare and how this links to their effect
Paragraph 3 How the language of Walking Away and Eden Rock compare and how this links to their effect
Conclusion Sum up comparison

Feedback

Either of the examples above could produce a good essay as they both explore each poem and compare their similarities and differences. However in structure B, the comparison takes place throughout the whole essay and avoids looking at the poems separately. This is a better model to use and one which can be applied to comparisons of other poems.

Explore the study guide for 'Walking Away' .