1 Kazrasho

Research Paper Comparing Two Short Stories

What is a compare-contrast essay?

Have you encountered an essay prompt that directs you to compare or contrast two elements (e.g., two characters in a story, two different political theories, two different religious doctrines or scientific explanations, two different historical events, and so forth)? This is called a compare-contrast essay, and it is a form you are likely to encounter often.

Comparison essays tend to focus on similarities, while contrast essays focus on differences. Realistically, either type of essay will usually address both similarities and differences.

3 keys to a compare-contrast essay

  1. Explain precisely what you are comparing, defining terms as necessary
  2. Narrow your focus; be specific about what you are and are not comparing or contrasting
  3. Keep the comparison or contrast alive throughout the essay

Example of a compare-contrast essay question

Here is a compare/contrast essay question from Excellence in Literature’s English 3, American Literature, Module 2, considering The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Miles Standish.

Essay prompt: Write a 750-word essay comparing and contrasting the courtship strategies of Irving’s characters, Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones, with Longfellow’s characters, Miles Standish and John Alden. Be sure to address the following issues:

  • What was each man’s strategy and how well did it work?
  • In what ways, if any, could the losing candidates have improved their chances for success?
  • How did the young ladies who were being courted communicate their preferences to the young man of their choice?
  • How did each courtship compare with an ideal courtship?
  • Optional: How did the courtships reflect the ideas and concerns of the Romantic era?
  • Be sure to use quotations from each work to support your viewpoint.

One way to approach the essay question

You could approach the multi-part question above with a graphic organizer or by charting the answers as in the table below. Just use a notebook, draw a line down the middle of a page and write in the answers to the questions below. The resulting outline can be used as a basis for the essay.

Ichabod and BromMiles and John
Courtship strategy: how did Ichabod try to show Katrina that he liked her? Give examples from the text.Courtship strategy: how did John try to show Priscilla  that he liked her? Give examples from the text.
Did it work? How do you know? Who actually won? Did it work? How do you know? Who actually won?
What made the winning man’s courtship successful? What could the losing suitor have done differently?What made the winning man’s courtship successful? What could the losing suitor have done differently?
How did Katrina show who she preferred? Were her suitors surprised?How did Priscilla show who she preferred? Were her suitors surprised?
What is an ideal courtship like? How was Ichabod’s or Brom’s courtship different from or similar to an ideal courtship (would you have wanted to be Ichabod or Brom or be courted by either of them)?What is an ideal courtship like? How was Miles or John’s courtship different from or similar to an ideal courtship (would you have wanted to be John or Miles or be courted by them)?

Establish a foundation with a thesis

A thesis statement takes a position on a debateable point. It can be a response to an essay prompt or simply a statement of a paper’s argument. In a compare-contrast essay, the thesis can either (1) state a preference for one of the two things being compared or (2) make an interpretative assertion about the differences or similarities between the two.

Example for the essay prompt above: Of the four courtship strategies employed in these two stories, the most effective ones seemed to focus on the young lady in question, and the least successful focused on the suitor himself.


Once the comparison and the basis of the argument have been defined, then you need to organize the sequence of paragraphs in the main body of the argument. In setting up the sequence of the paragraphs, you have some options, as follows:

  1. Keep the comparison alive in every paragraph, so that the argument discusses each half of the comparison in each paragraph.
  2. Alternate between the two subjects, point by point.
  3. State your entire argument for one side first, then consider the other side of the comparison.

Here is another sample outline of a compare contrast essay.

This article was adapted from the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers, which is available from Everyday Education, LLC (Janice Campbell’s site).


Like this:



This entry was posted in Resources for Teaching, Writer's Handbook and tagged compare, comparing, comparison, contrast, e3, eil, essay, excellence in literature, how to, thesis, writer's handbook. Bookmark the permalink.

Comparison of Two Short Stories: the Red Room and Farthing House

1470 Words6 Pages

Comparison of Two Short Stories: the Red Room and Farthing House

I have been asked to compare two short stories for my English coursework. These two stories are called "The Red room" and "Farthing House". These stories are considerably different, partly because of the respective eras during which they were written. "Farthing House" was written by a female author, Susan Hill in 1992, while "The Red Room" was written by the famous H G Wells in the late 19th Century. There is almost a century of culture and ideological changes between the two stories. This difference means the language used and settings are almost certainly going to be quite different.

"Farthing House" is a more unhackneyed ghost…show more content…

An added appurtenance of this tale that sets it as a more frightening story is the physical descriptions and apparent fears of these elderly people. They have abnormalities; one has a withered arm, another appears to be unusually old while the third seems to be relatively normal. These characters also tend to bicker and argue with each other. The descriptions and characters outlined contrast completely those in "Farthing House" where similarly aged residents are happy, surrounded by kind and gentle nurses in a warm and cosy environment in beautiful countryside. The initial impressions therefore are a scary setting and characters in one, contrasted by the opposite in Farthing House. "The Red Room" opening has been set up to frighten people. The only slight twist in "Farthing House" is that it is set near a graveyard.

Now I am going to examine how the atmosphere is created in both stories. In "The Red Room", the first impression that the young man receives is quite an unsettling one. Although all the way through the first part of the story he tries to show his bravery, creating an atmosphere of bravado. This is to do with the old people having very strange appearances and living in an environment where they are constantly arguing. This creates uneasiness and an underlying tension, as though a deeper darker secret is yet to be

Show More

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *