Comparison and Contrast Essay: Theatrical Comedy/Tragedy

Compare/Contrast in Literature

The process of examining two or more things in order to establish their similarities and differences is the definition of compare and contrast. Comparisons as well as contrasts can be found in any kind of writing: magazine articles, advertising, essays, news articles, letters, editorials, textbooks, scientific writing, reports, political speeches, and pamphlets. We make comparisons and contrasts when we have to choose between two or more things: careers, products, political candidates, and/or goals. Comparisons and contrasts underlie everything we do. Scientists use comparisons in their experiments. Logicians use them to draw conclusions. Politicians use them to formulate policies. Judges use them to render decisions. Ministers teach and admonish us with comparisons.

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When writing a literary comparison, you will answer the question: So What? In other words, you will not only explain the similarities and differences between the two literary works, but also explain the significance of your comparison. A comparison intends to inform readers of something they haven’t thought of before.

Your assignment is to think of one tragedy and one comedy we have discussed in this drama unit in which you can establish similarities and differences.
In your comparison/contrast essay you are explaining the differences between two plays, as well as explaining, or at least alluding to, what the two plays have in common.
For a comparison to be illuminating, the things compared must either:
Appear different but have significant similarities; i.e., Star Wars and Return of the Jedi.
Or, appear similar but have significant differences; i.e., Classic Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
You must have a purpose for your comparison. The reader of the comparison should not have to ask SO WHAT? at the end of your essay.
Areas to consider when you are organizing your essay:
Literary Devices
Word Choice
Point of View
Remember that comparison and contrast is an organizational and analytical structure that supports your ideas, but you still need a thesis in the introduction.
The introduction should contain:
The names of the plays to be compared
The purpose of the comparison
What is being compared and/or contrasted
A thesis statement

Sample Thesis Statements:

Unacceptable — “I am going to compare the similarities and differences between the films Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T., the Extraterrestrial.”

Acceptable — “A close examination of the way Roy Neary, the protagonist of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Elliott, the protagonist of E.T., the Extraterrestrial, react to their encounters with aliens demonstrates that director Steven Spielberg uses both films to tell similar stories about the difficulties of growing up.”

Steps to follow:

Choose the works of literature you want to compare.
Choose the grounds for comparison; i.e. is there something they have in common that makes it worthwhile to show how they are different?
Answer the question “So What?” by determining a purpose for making a comparison.
Gather information and evidence from each literary selection to describe and support your grounds for comparison.
Outline your essay.
Compose your thesis.
Write the draft of your essay.


Follow MLA format – Including proper In-Text Citation and Works Cited Page

Have a 1000 Word Count

Here is one play the other one is in the files:

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