of General Structure
putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) it will
make your job much easier to have an idea in mind of exactly
how your paper is going to be framed.
and "Analyze” prompts
you're writing on a pre-assigned topic, its nature will
likely affect the way in which your paper is structured.
you're asked to "discuss" or "analyze"
something (for example, "Discuss the effects of
the Enlightenment on the French Revolution), it means
you need to treat a specific aspect of a broad topic. It
is important, in these cases, to stick to the specific focus
of the prompt: don't talk about the Enlightenment itself
or other aspects of the French Revolution. You must confine
your paper solely to the specific relationship between the
thinking about your structure, then, it's best to come up
with the general areas you'd like to discuss (this will
largely be determined by the amount of space you have),
and to divide your paper mentally between those.
often you'll be asked to "compare and contrast"
two pieces of literature, and there are several ways in
which to effectively set up this sort of essay.
first thing to remember (which will be explored more
extensively in the thesis section) is that your paper
cannot just compare the two pieces in general, exhaustively
mentioning all similarities and differences with no specific
you know exactly what your argument is, your structure will
be crucial to the techniques you use to make it.
sequential method -
This means discussing all of text A and then moving on to
The prompt says "Compare Milton's view
of Hell in "Paradise
Lost" with that of Marlowe
in "Dr. Faustus." It might
be easier, here, to spend your first pages thoroughly
analyzing Milton's view and then moving on to Marlowe's
independently. It is then key, however, that your conclusion
be a successful integration off he two or else you won't
have a unifying argument.
point-by-point method -This method works well
if you have a number of parallel specifics to deal with
in both texts, and involves discussing each one in turn,
with respect to both texts at once.
The prompt says "Discuss the relationship
between symbolism and character
in Faulkner's Light in
August and Steinbeck's The
Grapes of Wrath."
In this case, it might be easier to discuss the individual
relationships one at time. You could discuss Christ imagery
in both texts first, for example, and move on to erotic
symbols and so forth.
type of comparative paper concentrates on one particular
text, but views it through the “lens” of another.
Discuss "The Rape of the
Lock” in terms of mock epic, with reference to
Homer's The Illiad.
this case, the second text should be used as a continual
reference point, but should not be analyzed in and of itself.
way to structure this sort of paper is to break down your
argument with respect to your main text into a number of
points, as you normally would with a "discuss"
paper. Within each paragraph, insert segments of analysis
as to how your new arguments function within the paradigms
established by the lens text.