For this paper, you will write a compare-and-contrast analytical essay on any two texts from the course that you have not written on in either Paper 1 or Paper 2. It is up to you to select the two pieces you would like to examine. You will need to spend some time figuring out a theme, commonality, and/or point of contrast around which you can organize your essay. It is your job to come up with an argument for this paper. It should be something that you are interested in examining and thinking about in detail. Try to wrestle with a subtlety or a question you see being raised in both texts. It would be best if you first did some brainstorming and tried to figure out what you would be most interested in writing about.
This paper requires you to submit a preliminary thesis (and optional outline) Week 11. Your thesis may, for example, focus on A) how similar textual features are used to convey different meanings in your chosen works, OR B) how the texts’ features help them convey different messages about the same motif or issue. Here are some examples of comparative thesis statements:
Example A: Whereas pastoral imagery and the use of the personal voice imply the speaker’s unity with nature in Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” these same features indicate the individual’s essential isolation in Coleridge’s “Dejection: An Ode.”
Example B: While Keats, in “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” uses erotic imagery to characterize the desire for immortality as irresistible yet morbid, Yeats, in “The Stolen Child,” uses childlike imagery and rhymes to depict this desire as innocent and harmless.
Along with your preliminary thesis, you may also choose to submit an outline, listing your argumentative topic sentences, the textual evidence you plan to use to support your claims, etc. Feel free to include questions for your instructor along with your outline as well. (Note that you will not be submitting a complete first draft for instructor review for this assignment).
Your final paper, like the previous two, should be grounded in analysis and interpretation of quoted material. Try to wrestle with a subtlety or a question you see being raised in the text. Because this is a short paper, you will need to immediately introduce your reader to what you will be writing about. You should narrow your argument and be careful to be very specific—generalizations and vague statements will weaken your thesis. Always ground your assertions in quoted evidence. At the end of your paper you should briefly review your main points (in a sentence or two) and conclude your essay, but you don’t need to have an entire conclusion paragraph.
Be sure to proofread your paper for grammatical and stylistic errors. If your instructor can’t understand your sentences or ideas because the grammar or logic is confusing, she will have to lower your grade. The most important part of your paper is clear presentation of thoughtful ideas—but ideas can’t come across if they aren’t written in a way that makes sense to your reader. You should attach a Works Cited page with the citation information in MLA format (just information about the particular version of the text you’re using—no need to do any outside research). If you are having trouble or feeling frustrated with the process of focusing and developing your thesis, please consult your instructor and/or visit the U of M Center for Writing.