Comparison essay topics – where to find inspiration?

What is a comparison essay?

A comparison essay is a short paper, typically of five to ten pages at maximum, and is typically assigned as part of an English class or, sometimes a Communications class. In a comparison paper, a student is expected to compare and contrast elements of two related but distinct subjects. These two subjects may be two different texts, two different people in similar circumstances, two different literary characters, or even two different historical figures or events that are nonfictional.

Picking a topic is challenging!

Selecting the proper comparison essay topic is difficult and it really taxes a students’ capacity for creativity. You should ideally select two topics that serve as foils, or counterpoints, to one another. The topics should each have enough in common that you can write at length about their similarities, but should differ enough that you can draw some strong contrasts.

You should also be able to generate some unique, useful insights with the comparison. The two topics shouldn’t be obvious in light of one another, or be a comparison that has been drawn too frequently by other people. Here are some tips for finding inspiration and selecting a good topic.

Pick something you love

It is much easier to write a comparison essay about a topic you know a great deal about and have devoted a lot of time thinking about. Rather than trying to force this level of investment and interest, select a topic you already are naturally interested in and know a great deal about! Are you a film buff? Select two films that are similar in genre or style or subject. Do you like British literature? Select two authors with some similarities and differences. Are you an expert in French history? Look there for two figures to contrast.

Make lists

Once you have chosen your topics, make two lists with two columns each. List all the things that the two topics have in common. These can be factual or interpretational in nature. Then list all of the things that are not at all similar between your two topics. Try to think about why they are different. Was it an editorial choice by the writer or the author? Were circumstances different for these two things? Ask yourself what the fundamental differences are between the two works, as well as the fundamental similarities.

Think about what it means

Look at the time, place, and context for the two topics. If both topics are works of art or fiction, ask yourself how the creators were similar or different, in both their personalities and their circumstances. Why do you think these two topics have the things in common that they do? What were the external pressures? Do the same thing for the differences.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you arrive at a comparison essay topic that is inspiring and motivating.