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The Compare/Contrast Essay – Some Great Topic Ideas
Be prepared – you may get an assignment for a compare/contrast essay in any number of courses. And, you may have choices for compare and contrast essay topic ideas, within various units of study. Picking a good topic for such an essay is important, for the two subjects to be compared and/or contrasted should be logical. You would be hard-pressed, for example, to attempt an essay comparing Kant and Picasso – one is a philosopher, the other a painter. Now, the painter may have had certain statements to make in his art, but translating those into an overall philosophy at the level of Kant would be pretty difficult. So, when you generate ideas for compare and contrast essay writing, be certain that you have criteria by which the subjects can actually be compared and contrasted.
Knowing how to organize content for such an essay, based upon its purpose, is a big step in producing a compare/contrast essay that will be coherent and flow logically. Failure to organize the content well will be a major mishap and hurt your grade.
Structuring the Essay
Actually, there are three types of comparison/contrast essays:
- Comparison Only
- Contrast Only
- Both Comparison and Contrast
No matter which of these essays you will be writing, you must organize the content in such a way as to have the similarities in one place and the differences in separate places. The best organizational structure for this type of content is a Venn diagram, for it allows you to place the similarities in that portion of the diagram in which the two circles overlap and to place the differences in the outer spaces of the two circle portions. Suppose, for example, you were going to compare and contrast online courses with traditional courses. The similarities are obvious. They are both college courses, they both have the same curriculum, and the assignments are quite similar – readings, homework assignments, essays, papers, etc. The differences are also quite obvious. Online courses allow a student to work from home or anywhere else where he has access to a computer and the Internet; online courses do not require physical presence in a physical classroom with other students; communication with fellow students occurs through blackboard and messaging systems. Traditional courses require physical presence in a classroom; interaction with the instructor and peers is face-to-face; class discussions occur in person.
Comparison Only or Contrast Only Essays
If you are only presenting the similarities or only the differences, your essay structure is quite simple. Each paragraph will address a point of comparison or a point of difference. Thus, if you are going to point out only the differences between capitalism and socialism, you would address ownership of businesses, the role of government in the economy, the role of the individual in the economic structure, and the role of government in meeting the basic needs of its people. Each of these points would constitute one paragraph.
These are a bit more complex because you must address both in the same essay. When you consider compare and contrast essay ideas for this type, be certain that there are enough similarities and differences to produce a worthy piece of writing. The same thing is with persuasive essay ideas. The simplest structure is to address the similarities in a few paragraphs and then move on to the differences. Another possible structure is to develop overall criteria and speak to both similarities and differences for each criterion. For example, in the essay on capitalism and socialism, one criteria would be the government’s role in meeting the needs of its people. Under both systems, government provides defense against enemies and builds and maintains roads, transportation, and other infrastructure. In a purely capitalistic system, however, government’s role ends at that point. In a socialistic system, however, government provides many social programs as well – education, health care, housing, price controls, etc.
Some Topic Ideas for Good Comparison/Contrast Essays
Keeping in mind that you enough points to compare and contrast, the following are good topics to consider:
- Childhood and Adolescence
- Two Political Candidates Running for the Same Office
- Good Teachers and Bad Teachers
- Revolution and Evolution
- Marriage and a Civil Union
- Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
- Id and Ego
- Solar Energy and Nuclear Energy
- Blues and Jazz
- Classical and Quantum Mechanics
- Plant Morphology and Plant Physiology
- Adderall and Strattera
- Schizophrenia and Paranoia
- Romantic and Impressionist Art
- Baroque and Classical Music
- Early Explorers and Astronauts
Compare and Contrast Essay Title Ideas
Titles for these essays tend to be pretty boring. Why not spice yours up with some creative thinking? Instead of a title such as, “Comparing and Contrasting the Id and the Superego” (dull and boring), consider something like, “The Devil and the Angel Within Us.” (more tantalizing and engaging).
Topic and Structure Can be a Challenge
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