Sample Compare-Contrast Essay Outline

Sample compare-contrast essay outline

Handbook for Writers- Excellence in LiteratureHave you ever wondered how to logically organize a compare-contrast essay? Here is a sample essay outline in which Achilles’ and Odysseus’ attitudes toward war are compared and contrasted.

Subject: Homer’s Poems
Focus 1: Achilles and Odysseus from the Iliad and the Odyssey
Focus 2: A comparison between the two heroes’ attitudes to war

Thesis: Odysseus in the Odyssey and Achilles in the Iliad are both frequently tested by hostile forces and combat. However, they differ in their characteristic range of responses to critical situations. A study of these two men in this regard reveals some really significant differences about the worldview in the two poems.

Topic Sentence (TS) 1: At first glance, Achilles and Odysseus share many things in common. (Paragraph goes on to discuss the similarities between the two men.)

TS 2: However, they differ completely in their attitude to the war and the warrior code. (Paragraph goes on to discuss the differences in their attitudes.)

TS 3: From these differences in attitude arise the different ways Odysseus and Achilles respond to physical danger, one of the most remarkable differences in this comparison. (Paragraph goes on to argue cause and effect.)

TS 4Given the above, it is not surprising that Achilles and Odysseus differ considerably in the way they treat other people who face dangers with them. (Paragraph leads toward a conclusion by describing  the consequences of their attitudes.)

Notice that in the sample outline, the argument begins by establishing that the two things being compared are sufficiently similar to bear the comparison. That is often an important point. You should not launch a comparison without indicating why you think these two items belong together in a comparison.

For instance, if you set up a comparison in which you compared, say, Peter Rabbit and Odysseus, the reader might genuinely wonder about what these things have in common that enables the comparison between them to make any argumentative sense.

This example is excerpted from the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers, which contains more information on this topic and many others. Although this sample mentions only one paragraph per topic sentence, you may have more than one paragraph supporting each main point.

If needed, you may review how to write a comparison or contrast essay in the previous post.

You will find the Handbook and the rest of the Excellence in Literature curriculum at Everyday Education – Janice Campbell’s bookstore.

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