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Compare and Contrast Paper

Compare and Contrast Paper
For your final 4-6 page (double-spaced) paper, due on the last day of class, you will write a compare and contrast paper on the theme of naming and identity. Pick two or more texts we have done in this class from Alice in Wonderland onward and consider the ways in which they use names, or namelessness, as a way of manifesting questions of self, identity, personhood, otherness, and/or rites of passage.
In Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, for example, Alice wonders if she can still be the same person if she does not remember all she used to know and wonders if she might be Mabel; in Through the Looking-Glass, she wanders into the Wood with No Names and encounters a fawn, and the prelapsarian peace and innocence they find together suggest that it is by naming things, and thereby separating ourselves from others, that we fall into sin and pain.
In The Importance of Being Earnest, characters assume false identities and must merge their fictional and real selves before they marry—though interestingly, it is the invented, fictional selves which turn out to be the true ones (perhaps reflection Wilde’s own double life as a married man in the country and a gay man in the city).
In the Prologue to Invisible Man, the narrator—usually referred to as “Invisible Man”—feels invisible and nameless not because he is a specter, but because he is not seen or recognized as a human in the world controlled by whites. He feels more like a ghost.
In Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral,” the narrator, his wife, and her first husband are not named in the story, and for most of the story, the narrator refers to Robert as “the blind man,” robbing him of personal identity. Here the lack of names seems to indicate the narrator’s interior blindness, his inability to see from other perspectives and open himself up to experience. Interestingly, as he comes closer to gaining insight and a truer vision, he begins to describe details around him, as though his interior blindness is gradually fading.
In “No Name Woman,” the nameless aunt is likewise referred to as a “ghost” and becomes nameless because she is outside the norm of society and no longer recognized as a person. Later, Kingston will refer to white people she encounters as ghosts, a reversal of Ellison’s construction, but once again it is because she is an outsider.
In such texts as The Woman Warrior, the “Prologue” to Invisible Man, and “Cathedral,” the theme of naming and namelessness also involves a consideration of otherness, prejudice, and judgment, among other things. In The Importance of Being Earnest and Alice in Wonderland, finding oneself means also finding out one’s true name and identity, and perhaps fashioning oneself anew in a rite of passage—becoming a queen, and thus symbolically growing up in Through the Looking-Glass, or getting married, as in The Importance of Being Earnest (and, of course, the women therein will also get new names when they marry.
A thesis statement is a sentence (or sentences) that expresses the main idea of your essay and answers the question or questions posed by that essay. It offers your readers a quick and easy to follow summary of what you will discuss and what you as a writer are setting out to tell them. Thesis statements generally consist of two parts: your topic and the analysis, explanation(s), or assertion(s) that you’re making about the topic. It is a very specific statement—it should cover only what you want to discuss in your essay and be supported with specific evidence. Generally, a thesis statement appears in the introduction of your essay so that your audience will have a clear idea of what to expect as they read. You can think of your thesis as a map or a guide both for yourself and your audience.
Start by jotting down similarities and differences between your two chosen texts, paying particular attention to their use of names or namelessness, mistaken identities, identity shifts, or ghosts. Make a list of the ways their images are similar and how they differ from one another. Then examine your lists. Do they have more similarities than differences? Why do you think that is true? This will be the basis of your paper.
When you are done, time yourself for five minutes and condense all of what you have written down into a single sentence that summarizes what you have found. This will form the basis of your thesis statement. Recast it so it contains a main idea as well as three specific examples or areas of focus that illustrate your idea. For example, an essay on dreams and literature—as opposed to your topic, names and identity—might look like this: “At times the narratives of both Lewis Carroll and Nathaniel Hawthorne contain dream symbolism such as X, Y, and Z, but Carroll’s dream-vision remains essentially more absurd and free-floating, whereas in Hawthorne’s tale, the symbols approach the coherence of a distinct allegory.”
1) Paragraph One: Introduction. Say what you’re going to compare and contrast in a brief overview of your argument. Include a thesis statement that contains 3 major similarities / differences between the texts and why you think this is so.
2) Paragraph Two: Element A. Discuss the first similarity or difference you noticed, giving examples from your reading.
3) Paragraph Three: Element B. Discuss the second similarity / difference.
4) Paragraph Four: Element C. Discuss the third similarity / difference.
5) Paragraph Five: Conclusion. What has been revealed from comparing and contrasting these two texts?
Tips for Writing Compare and Contrast Papers
Check your paper for errors.
Avoid the tennis match approach. In other words, don’t discuss Carroll in one paragraph, Carver in the next, and then go back to Carroll in the subsequent paragraph as though you were hitting a ball back and forth across a net. Instead, discuss both texts in every paragraph and, as often as possible, in the same sentence.
Banish unnecessary summaries. Only discuss plot elements absolutely essential to your discussion. To avoid summaries if you find you tend to do them in your papers, try discussing elements of a text out of order—the end first, the beginning second, or so forth.
Thinking Contrariwise: Use words and phrases such as similarly, likewise, like, same, on the contrary, conversely, on the other hand, in contrast, and unlike in a c/c paper.
Qualify your statements when necessary.
Anticipate Counter-Arguments: If you see any possible objections to your point if view, acknowledge them, say what merit they may have, and then refute them by saying why you think your p.o.v. is still correct.
Your conclusion should reiterate your thesis and the main points of your essay, but it differs from an introduction by bringing all these details together and conveying a sense of closure. Don’t just recast your introduction in different words. In your conclusion, you could, for example,
?Place your discussion in a larger context and suggest the broader implications of your argument
?Address ideas from a fresh perspective in order to encourage your reader to continue thinking about your topic
?Raise unanswered questions
?Pose a question for future study
?Describe qualifications to your argument
?Include something from the intro in a different light to bring the paper full circle
?Derive a general principle
?Ask a provocative question
?Set a scene
?Redefine one of the key terms of your argument
?Speculate on what might happen next
?Give an example
?Evoke a vivid image
?Give an unusual fact
?Draw an analogy
?Connect your subject with a historical event or current trend
?Formulate a hypothesis
?Introduce a relevant quotation
?Link your essay to larger issues

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