Compare and contrast essays are quite common in academic writing, as you’ll often be asked to make comparisons and discuss differences between concepts and ideas. Making comparisons can help you come to new conclusions and develop your own ideas about a topic. Even if your professors don’t officially call the assignment a compare and contrast essay, you’ll encounter this rhetorical style quite often. The key is to think about what the assignment is asking you to do and consider if a particular style, such as the compare and contrast style, might work.
Below, you’ll see a sample essay in MLA format from a literature course where students were asked to compare two works of criticism. Although this assignment was not described as a compare and contrast essay, key elements of the compare and contrast style have been noted for you. In the sample, you’ll find a greater focus on the similarities rather than differences, but this is not uncommon in essays across the disciplines. You may find yourself focusing more on similarities or more on differences, depending upon the particular topic or assignment.
Click the image below to open a PDF of the sample paper.