A very common essay prompt/discussion topic for The Great Gatsby is to have you compare and contrast a pair of characters in Gatsby. Why do teachers love these prompts so much?
These compare/contrast essays are an opportunity for you to tie the character similarities and differences to larger observations about society and class, the American Dream, or identity in the novel. They also allow you to practice standard English class skills: close reading, using lines from the text as evidence, and taking a stance and presenting a supporting argument in an essay.
We’ll go over some basic dos and don’ts for writing compare/contrast essays before diving into some analysis of the most asked-about character pairings. Keep reading if you have a Compare/Contrast assignment on the horizon!
- The do's of a compare and contrast essay
- The don'ts of a compare contrast essay
- Why some characters are paired for comparison more often than others
- Analysis of and essay topic ideas for the most common character pairs:
- Nick and Gatsby
- Tom and George
- Tom and Gatsby
- Daisy and Jordan
- Daisy and Myrtle
What to Do in a Compare/Contrast Essay
Like anything you write for English class, your essay should be clearly organized, with a thesis statement (a one-sentence summary of your argument), and topic sentences for each body paragraph.
And you should definitely have an overall argument! The point of the compare/contrast essay isn’t for you to just list the differences and similarities between two characters, you need to take those observations and make a larger argument about the novel as a whole. That larger argument allows you to practice writing an essay that contains an argument, which is a skill that nearly all English teachers are focused on building.
To take a quick example, don’t just list the differences between Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. Instead, make an argument like, “Fitzgerald’s portrayal of wealthy New York society through Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan allows him to critique both old money and the newly rich, while reserving his most pointed critiques for the old money crowd.” (Obviously, that’s just one example, and there are dozens of potential arguments you could make while comparing and contrasting characters in Gatsby!)
Make sure to address your larger argument in each body paragraph as you draw out the similarities and differences between the two characters. Don’t get caught in the weeds as you tease out the many differences and similarities in each character pair. Always link back to the bigger picture.
Finally, analyze each quote you use – in other words, don’t stick a quote in your essay and do nothing with it. Make sure to explain how and why the quote demonstrates a key similarity or difference, and what that means for your bigger argument.
What to Avoid in a Compare/Contrast Essay
Don’t just list differences and similarities without an overarching argument. Although you can definitely start brainstorming by making a list of similarities and differences, just presenting that list in essay form won’t get you a good grade, since you need to go deeper and explain what the similarities/differences suggest about the novel as a whole.
And, on the other side, don’t make big claims without some evidence from the text to back them up. For example, don’t say “Tom is selfish while Gatsby cares about others.” Prove those two separate claims (Tom is selfish” and “Gatsby cares about others”) with relevant lines from the book. (And if you’re having a hard time locating good quotes, find a digital version of Gatsby you can search using the CTRL-F function. It’s a lifesaver when gathering relevant quotes for an essay!)
The garden gnome agrees - our essay tips have helped him out more than you'll ever know.
Why Are These Characters Paired Most Often?
We will tackle these major pairings in the next sections of this article:
- Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby
- Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby
- Tom Buchanan and George Wilson
- Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker
- Daisy Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson
Before we dig into the analysis, you might be wondering: “why are we only comparing characters of the same gender?” or maybe “why not other pairings? Why not Jordan and Myrtle, or Nick and Tom?” We are focusing on these specific pairings because they are by far the most commonly asked about pairs in essay prompts and discussion topics for The Great Gatsby. And we want this guide, first and foremost, to be helpful to students as you work on assignments involving Gatsby!
Furthermore, these pairings help teachers get you to explore some of the novel’s larger themes. For example, comparing Daisy/ Myrtle or Tom/George can help you explore the differences between the wealthy and the working class. Comparing Daisy/Myrtle or Daisy/Jordan can help you explore the changing status of women during the 1920s. Comparing Tom and Gatsby can get at the old money/new money divide. Finally, differences between Nick and Gatsby raise some of the novel’s larger questions about the American Dream, repeating the past, and identity. In short, these pairings have become common because they each allow fairly easy access to one of the novel’s larger issues.
That’s not to say you couldn’t also explore some of those themes by comparing, say, Jordan and George, or Daisy and Gatsby, but cross-gender compare/contrast essays can be challenging because the status of women and men is so different in the novel. If you are interested in seeing how a particular male and female character are paired, you may be better off studying them through the lens of love, desire, and relationships in the novel, or through the way they relate to one of the novel's symbols or motifs.
With those thoughts in mind, let's jump into the top 5 pairings! For each pairing, we will suggest a few possible larger arguments you can either build from or disagree with, but these are far from comprehensive! You should add to our analysis of the characters and come up with an argument you’re excited about.
Quick Note on Our Citations
Our citation format in this guide is (chapter.paragraph). We're using this system since there are many editions of Gatsby, so using page numbers would only work for students with our copy of the book. To find a quotation we cite via chapter and paragraph in your book, you can either eyeball it (Paragraph 1-50: beginning of chapter; 50-100: middle of chapter; 100-on: end of chapter), or use the search function if you're using an online or eReader version of the text.
Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby
Although Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway vary both in outlook and temperament, they are also alike in interesting ways. Despite somewhat similar desires, attitudes, and social positions, Nick and Gatsby make very different choices during the novel.
Love and Romance. Nick and Gatsby both want women that are out of their reach, although in different degrees. Daisy is miles above Gatsby in terms of social class. Jordan and Nick are of the same social status, but Jordan doesn't seem free to make her own decisions since an aunt controls her financial life. There is a significant passion gap between Gatsby and Nick as well. Gatsby obsesses over Daisy - he has thought of nothing else for five years, going as far as to buy a house across the bay from her just in case she notices. Nick, meanwhile, is attracted to Jordan's cool and self-sufficient demeanor, but he is clearly not in love with her, as he himself notes ("I wasn't actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity" (3.159)).
Approach to Women. Both men are not particularly interested in the inner lives of the women they want to be with. Gatsby is devastated when Daisy doesn't want to renounce her relationship with Tom completely. Similarly, Nick cavalierly discounts Jordan's penchant to lie, cheat, and generally be cynically uninterested in other people, and then is deeply disappointed when she acts this way after Myrtle's death.
Class and Social Standing. Although both Gatsby and Nick are outsiders to the wealthy communities of East and West Egg, Nick is a much more in-between character socially than Gatsby. Nick is familiar with the ways of the old money crowd because of his own family's privilege and the fact that he is related to Daisy. Gatsby is not only self-made, but is a criminal who is desperate to pass as part of the old money elite without knowing its customs or rules of behavior. What isolates Nick from East Egg life is his Midwestern values and the importance he places on morality and decency. Gatsby is isolated from everyone by the fact that he can never actually be himself - he is always playing a role and putting on his "Oxford man" persona. It may be this sense of feeling out of place that connects them.
Outlook and Temperament. Gatsby is an optimist (almost to a delusional degree) while Nick is a realist who finds Gatsby's idealism inspiring and admirable. Gatsby believes in his ability to shape his own life and future, which makes sense since he has managed to transform himself from a farmer to a successful gangster, to impersonate an "Oxford man," and to accumulate a fantastic amount of wealth in a very short time. This belief in his power translates to Gatsby being sure that he and Daisy can go back to their month of idyllic love ("'Can't repeat the past?', he cried incredulously. 'Why of course you can!'" (6.129). Nick tries his best to be an objective realist and to reign in his tendency to judge others. He is deeply in awe of self-directed men like Gatsby, and even Wolfshiem (Nick is amazed to think that one man could be behind a huge event like the rigged World Series).
Ambition. Gatsby dreams of greatness. As a young man his mind “romped like the mind of God,” and so as an adult, he seems to have made good on this promise by buying the most ridiculous mansion and throwing the most extravagant parties (6.134). Nick is much less ambitious in comparison. While he comes to New York seeking excitement, he doesn't want to be the wealthiest bond salesman on Wall Street or to have the biggest house. He is happy to be an observer at the edge of the drama rather than being in its midst.
Nick and Gatsby Essay Ideas
Here are potential arguments to build on or disagree with based our observations. These are certainly not the only possible arguments, so be creative! Make sure your essay considers what the similarities and differences between Nick and Gatsby reveal about the novel as a whole.
- Nick is a passive person and Gatsby is active, which is why Gatsby is the hero and Nick simply the observer.
- Nick has much more in common with Gatsby than he thinks he does, which explains why he becomes so enamored of him.
- Nick serves as a foil (someone who serves as a contrast) to Gatsby, which makes Nick the best possible observer of Gatsby.
- At the end of the novel, Tom says that Gatsby “threw dirt in [Nick’s] eyes, just like Daisy’s,” meaning that both Nick and Daisy were taken in and could never see the true Gatsby: a narcissist and a criminal. Tom is right - the whole novel is Nick trying to spin a negative character into a positive one.
Nick Carraway: master of spin or just along for the ride?
Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby
As they battle over Daisy’s love, Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby sometimes seem surprisingly similar - particular in their self-centeredness, wealth, and concern with appearances. At the same time, these surface parallels point to major conflicts in their social class, and say a lot about the world of the novel.
Appearance. Gatsby is driven by his materialism to be very invested having fashionable clothes, a beautiful mansion, and visually overwhelming parties - for him, the outfit is the thing that makes the Oxford man. Meanwhile because Tom doesn't have to dress the part of the moneyed elite to be one, he is instead very attuned to the behavior of others. This is why he immediately sees how fake Gatsby's persona is, both because of Gatsby's overly ostentatious clothes, and because of how much Gatsby misreads the fake invitation from the Sloanes. Tom is never fooled into thinking that Gatsby is anything other than an upstart, and mostly likely a criminal one.
Self-Centeredness. Tom and Gatsby are both completely selfish, and fully convinced that their desires have to be acquiesced to by those around them. Tom, for example, starts his affair with Myrtle by pressing himself against her on a train platform - basically, his version of flirting is bodily assault. Gatsby, meanwhile, also thinks nothing of starting an affair with a married woman, assuming that his obsessive feelings are enough to justify any behavior.
Wealth. Despite the fact that both are unimaginably rich, these men come from totally different sides of the big money divide. Tom comes from old money and is forever worried about the encroachment of the nouveau riche, minorities, and others onto what he thinks is his. At the same time, Gatsby is the most successful of the novel's many ambitious social climbers, using his lack of ethical scruples to parlay his criminal activity into a higher social status.
Power. Tom loves being powerful and wields his power directly. He is physically aggressive and uses his body to threaten and intimidate (Nick, for one, is clearly very cowed by Tom's bulk). He is also quick to violence, whether it's socially sanctioned - like his football accomplishments - or not - like when he breaks Myrtle's nose without a second thought. Gatsby also holds significant power, but his methods are much more indirect. Still, whether he is offering Nick some illegal bond trading action, or showing off his get-out-of-a-ticket-free card to a cop on the highway, Gatsby is clearly happy to be in control of a situation.
Love. Tom and Gatsby both seem to be in love with Daisy. But what does that really mean to each of them? For Tom, Daisy is clearly partly appealing because she completes his horse-riding, East Egg, 350-thousand-dollar pearl necklace lifestyle. He cheats on her because he clearly has never denied himself anything, but he also understands Daisy as a person. He knows that she is too weak to leave him, but he also loves her enough to tolerate her affair with Gatsby and to stay with her after Myrtle's murder. Gatsby's love, on the other hand, is in some ways purer because he so idealizes Daisy and connects her to all of his other hopes and dreams. But this love is overly pure - he doesn't really seem to know Daisy as anything other than an idealized object, and is incapable of accepting that she has led a life apart from him for five years.
Tom and Gatsby Essay Ideas
In a compare/contrast essay, you can’t just present a list of similarities and differences. You also need to have an underlying argument you’re supporting. Feel free to take these at face value or as jumping-off points for your own thoughts.
- Tom loves Daisy as a person, Gatsby loves her as an idea.
- Both Tom and Gatsby’s tendency to control women and see them as prizes reveals the misogyny of the 1920s.
- Although Tom sees Gatsby as someone from an entirely different class than him, what they have in common (selfishness, affairs, obsession with appearances) makes a larger argument for an overall moral hollowness of the rich of any class.
- We see both Gatsby and Tom through the eyes of Nick, who worships one of them and hates the other. In reality, they are both much more similar than different, and their different treatment reveals Nick's insecurities and biases.
Gatsby gives new meaning to letting perfect be the enemy of the good.
Tom Buchanan and George Wilson
At first, most readers see Tom Buchanan and George Wilson as opposites. But, these markedly different characters face very similar circumstances and offer two takes on masculinity and power in the novel.
Appearance and Presence. Where Tom is strong and cowering, George is meek and shrinking. Tom exudes power and confidence while George tends to just fade into the background. These differences are borne out in the way these two men interact with the world. Tom is violent towards others, while George’s instinct is to be passive or to try and escape situations, the notable exceptions being his locking up of Myrtle and murder of Gatsby. Tom is confident, privileged, and assured while George is timid; George is “ruled by his wife” where Tom is selfish and acts on his own desires.
Reaction to Adversity. There is a dramatic difference in the way the two men react to the fact that their wives are cheating on them. Tom notices Daisy’s love for Gatsby and immediately starts making power plays. On the other hand, George discovers Myrtle’s affair and is undone by it. Nick compares the two men in a memorable description:
“the shock had made him physically sick. I stared at him and then at Tom, who had made a parallel discovery less than an hour before--and it occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well. Wilson was so sick that he looked guilty, unforgivably guilty--as if he had just got some poor girl with child" (7.160).
In this description, Tom is “well” and George is “sick.” These are certainly arresting ways to describe Tom's more traditional masculinity and George's less overtly masculine character. Tom is self-assured in the face of adversity and immediately takes action to win Daisy back, insisting on driving Gatsby's car, bullying those around him into driving to Manhattan, and using his romance skills to remind Daisy of the pluses of their relationship. Meanwhile, George's weakness makes him look sick and guilty as he contemplates Myrtle's betrayal and is driven to violence to reassert his power over her.
Approach to Women. Both Tom and George assume they know what’s best for their wives: Tom dismisses Daisy’s professed love for Gatsby despite their obvious closeness, while George is determined to take Myrtle out west once he learns about the affair. But, while it seems that Tom does fundamentally understand Daisy and is right about her unwillingness to leave their marriage, George is unable to hold on to Myrtle either emotionally or physically. She is killed trying to run away from him.
Tom and George Essay Ideas
Differences in attitude and outcome, despite a relatively similar situation, reveal some unexpected truths about the world of the novel. Argue the reverse of any of these topics for a really provocative essay!
- The fact that Tom manipulates George into killing Gatsby and then himself (which allows Tom and Daisy to walk away from the entire affair without consequence) shows the huge privileges of having money in the novel.
- Nick's approach to Tom and George shows his admiration of a physical, brutish, domineering kind of masculinity.
- The fact that the relatively good guy turns into a murderer while the bad guy lives to cheat another day is a very cynical take on what happens in a world without a moral compass.
Perhaps it shouldn't be surprised that the meeker man turns out to be the ultraviolent one.
Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker
Despite Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker's similar “white girlhoods” (1.140) in Louisville, their attitude and motivations are quite distinct, making them really interesting to compare and contrast.
Attitude and Outlook. Both Daisy and Jordan display an entitled, bored attitude that’s typical of Fitzgerald’s depiction of the old money segment of wealthy New York society. The fact that they are introduced in tandem, both lying on the couches in their white dresses, speaks to their initially similar attitudes. But soon we see how different their takes on this kind of life are. Daisy is increasingly despondent, even nihilistic, asking in Chapter 7, “what shall we do today, and tomorrow, and for the next thirty years?” (7.74). Jordan meanwhile is a pragmatic opportunist, who sees possibilities everywhere, arguing that “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall” (7.75). In other words, Daisy’s pessimistic attitude from Chapter 1 comes through again, while Jordan, despite coming across as cynical and sharp, actually still seems excited about the possibilities life has to offer.
Appearance and Personality. Both Daisy and Jordan very alluring in their own way, though Daisy’s allure comes through her enchanting voice and feminine charms, while Jordan is masculine, “jaunty,” witty, sharp, and physical. Daisy maintains a squeaky-clean reputation despite moving with a fast crowd, while there are plenty of rumors about Jordan’s cheating in golf, and Nick comments on her dishonest attitude. More significantly, Daisy is incredibly self-absorbed while Jordan is very observant.
Role in Society. Daisy seems caught between what society expects of her and some deeper, more powerful desires she can’t name, resulting in restlessness, depression, and her affair. Daisy is sticking to her prescribed societal role by marrying and having a child, while Jordan plays golf, “runs around town” and doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to marry, at least in the beginning of the novel. Perhaps Jordan is still somewhat optimistic about the possibilities of life since she hasn’t settled down yet, while Daisy realizes that nothing major in her life will change at this point. Jordan, meanwhile, is content to chase after fun and intrigue via other people’s bad behavior. And she doesn’t get dragged down by the tragedy in the book – on the contrary, she is callous in how little Myrtle’s death seems to shake her, coolly calling Nick the next day and asking him to meet like nothing has happened (8.50-61). Perhaps her motivations are a bit less accessible to the reader since her role was significantly downsized between some of Fitzgerald’s earlier drafts. But in any case, as we watch Daisy struggle in her marriage, what we see of Jordan is cool, calm, collected, and rather uncaring.
Daisy and Jordan Essay Ideas
So what are some possible conclusions we can draw from Daisy and Jordan’s characters? One of the most common strategies is to tie the differences between these women onto one of the book’s larger themes, like the role of society and class or the American Dream. Another is to think about an important feature of the novel, like Nick’s narration, and see what these two characters can reveal about it. With those strategies in mind, here are some potential arguments you could argue for or against!
- Jordan and Daisy, because they are generally disempowered, both use their sexuality in different ways to gain power, with different results.
- Despite Jordan’s overt cheating and lying, Daisy is, in fact, the more morally compromised person.
- The way Nick treats Jordan versus the way he describes Daisy reveals the novel’s preoccupation with Gatsby above all, to the detriment of the female characters.
Dear Diary: Today I cheated at golf yet again! But it was nothing compared to what my friend Daisy did...
Daisy Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson
While Daisy Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson obviously come from very different backgrounds and have conflicting motivations, they also have some surprising similarities.
Physical Appearance. Daisy and Myrtle both derive power from their looks. Myrtle's comfort with her voluptuous body is clearly appealing to Tom, while Daisy's magnetic voice and ethereal presence obsess Gatsby. Throughout the novel, Myrtle is frequently reduced to being just a body - one to be used or violated by those around her. Tom sees little in Myrtle besides someone to either rub up against, have sex with, or punch at will; George resorts to imprisoning Myrtle while she eggs him on to "beat" her (7.314) the way Tom does; and finally, Daisy gruesomely rips Myrtle's body apart with a car. Meanwhile, Daisy's voice also serves to make her less of a person in her own right and more of an idealized, mythic figure from fairy tales. For Gatsby, Daisy's voice is appealing because it is "full of money" (7.105) - he is attracted to her not because of who she is, but because he sees her as a prize.
Social Standing. Myrtle puts on the airs that Daisy has been born and raised with. This allows Myrtle to wield considerable social power within her group, as seen by how her guests fawn on her at the Manhattan party she throws. Daisy, in contrast, never exerts such overt power over a group – rather, she seems to move with crowds, doing what it expected of her (for instance marrying Tom despite still loving Gatsby).
Love and Relationships. Daisy and Myrtle’s marriages are strikingly quite different. Daisy and Tom are able to stay together even through serial affairs and murder. They end up loyal co-conspirators, protected by their wealth. Meanwhile, Myrtle has nothing but disdain for George despite his evident love for her. Still, both women use affairs with other men as a way to escape. Daisy wants to get away from an increasingly unhappy marriage and try to recapture the spontaneity and possibility of her youth, while Myrtle loves the status that her affair with Tom grants her. However, both learn that they can’t escape forever through their affairs. Obviously, their biggest difference is that Daisy gets to walk away from the novel unscathed, while Myrtle gets killed.
Daisy and Myrtle Essay Ideas
Here are ways to write about these different women who face similar choices with dramatically opposite conclusions.
- Despite their similarities in action and motivation, Daisy is protected from any lasting harm by her wealth and old money status, while Myrtle is punished for the same behavior, revealing how the class system in America protects the wealthy.
- The novel refuses to give any inner life to women, and instead reduces them to their physical qualities no matter what social class they come from. Daisy and Myrtle's similar treatment by the narrator and by the men around them shows that gender trumps class when determining status.
- Daisy and Myrtle’s similarities reveal how hollow the progress of the women’s movement really was at that point in time. Despite the big gains the movement made in the early twentieth century, including winning the right to vote and pushing for more freedom in how they could dress and act, both of these women’s lives aren’t vastly improved. They’re both trapped in unhappy marriages, they both rely on their looks/charms/sexuality to get what they want, and neither of them has even a chance of pursuing a fulfilling life through a career.
The butterfly may be beautiful, but it's still trapped.
Now that you’ve gone over the novel’s most popular compare/contrast pairings, check out our analysis of the novel’s romantic pairings in our guide to love, desire, and relationships in The Great Gatsby.
Have an essay about a symbol or motif? Get started with our symbols overview and motifs overview.
Still a little hazy on some of the plot elements in Gatsby? Not to worry, we have you covered with our complete book summary!
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Let's say your high school or college teacher haven't assigned the topic for your assignment. It means you can choose compare and contrast essay topics by conducting in-depth research, asking for advice, or hiring a professional academic writer to help. It is simpler than deciding on the most relevant argumentative or scientific subject. However, every high grade expects a quality content written on the interesting essay topic; it is critical to learn how to write a compare and contrast essay and choose appropriate ideas to discuss.
Do not be trivial! The article you see now will help you to avoid confusing and banal essay topics. In addition to the list of the top-rated themes, we will share different links to websites with great examples and online writing help.
BUY CHEAP ACADEMIC HELP
Students will find some good points and ideas necessary for the development of a good school or college comparative essay. Online academic writing help is always available to lend a helping hand when it seems like the assignment is impossible to complete.
How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay: Major Principles
The answer to the disturbing question like how to write a compare and contrast essay begins with the structure of this type of academic writing. It has the same structure as other types of academic papers with the few major differences. Introduction with the powerful hook and thesis statement remains the same. In your conclusion, reword the thesis and summarize the arguments used to defend the main idea of the paper. The body paragraphs are different. It depends on whether the author focuses more on differences, similarities, or tries to balance with both.
Take a look at a couple of images below to realize how to write a paper of this type based on our examples.
How to Choose Compare and Contrast Essay Topics Wisely?
The most effective, time-tested way to select essay topics in case your teacher did not give some is through researching different types of sources:
- Newspapers. A student can find an endless source of great ideas. They are related to the ongoing world’s events, latest innovations, expert opinions, political fluctuations, and other fields. Pay attention to both columns, interviews, and analysis composed by an authoritative person from politics, economy, and other aspects of human life;
- News channels. Turn on your favorite channel not to watch favorite TV show this time. Learn about the contemporary problems and try to think about an interesting topic idea spending something around half an hour of your precious time.
- Magazines/Journals. If you are not a great fan of politics, religion, or economics, try to find some good ideas in the recent magazines/journals. Check the rubrics dedicated to entertainment, technology, teen life, and sports.
- Internet. It should be the greatest source of all ideas collected in the previous types of primary sources altogether.
- Do not forget to attend various seminars, conferences, meetings to learn more about the things going on in the world and recently discussed by the society.
“Before starting the topic, organize the thoughts in a logical manner. Develop some kind of a chart/graph/table to have a visual picture of how the final draft should look like. In this type of academic writing, it is important to focus on the comparable qualities & characteristics of the subjects/events/people to impress the target audience. It means the author should pick original criteria to draw parallels or stressing the gap between the objects.”
Professor Beverly Thompson, online English tutor and golden writer at NerdyMates
Students will not understand how to write a compare and contrast essay without memorizing and using properly so-called signal words. Those are transition words. In other types of essays, it is important to join different sections like body paragraphs and conclusion in a whole piece with the help of special words/phrases. Find the list of signal words below.
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics on Famous People
It is time to answer the main question of our reader, “What are some good compare and contrast essay topics?”
World-known people like different celebrities and political figures have always attracted the attention of ordinary citizens. It's a great chance for every writer to catch an eye of the reader by describing and comparing the life of various American authorities.
You do not necessarily need to analyze the life of people from the same region or field of activity. Many students find it exciting to take a person from real life and a book or movie character. It leaves space for imagination. Have enough ideas to write your five-paragraph essay:
- Madonna and Celine Dion. While the first woman is a self-made American singer, the same can be said about her Canadian fellow singer. By comparing these two, you draw parallels between the American and Canadian pop stage.
- Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Even though these historical figures widely known to the public were from the opposing camps, there are more similarities between them than you can think.
- Peter Griffin vs. Homer Simpson. The two American television shows, "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" are alike by showing the disadvantages of the nation and laughing at the public stereotypes. However, one of the shows is still more radical.
- Bugs Bunny and Charlie Chaplin. As the time passes by, these figures remain the symbol of their time and entire American culture. It would be interesting to write about the similarities and differences between their comic images.
- Online ads VS traditional ways to promote goods/services. How these methods affect lives of different popular people
- Hobbes or Locke. English philosophers’ roles regarding the contribution of each to the study of political science
- Batman VS Superman. The reasons why Batman won in the famous movie
- Start Wars modern episodes or episodes of 1970’s. Comparison of graphic, actors, plot, visual effects, music, sound effects, habits, etc
- Plato or Socrates. Decide which one contributed more to the philosophical research
- Putin & Obama. Differences in the political regime and economics offered by each president
Religion, Anthropology, and AP World History Compare & Contrast Essay Topics
Religion is often a taboo topic to discuss. Public schools and colleges have subjects dedicated to religion. Students are encouraged to write about it. Religion, history, and anthropology are closely related. You may choose AP world history compare and contrast essay that covers all three dimensions to enrich your essay.
Here we go with several good examples recommended by high school and college students:
- Discuss World War I and World War II. It is a traditional debate. Many people find the two wars similar, but historians point to a great number of differences such as main factors, actual causes, and consequences. Explain why World War II was much worse and terrifying.
- President Obama and President Kennedy. Mass media tends to draw parallels between both political figures very often. It is time to find out why.
- Ancient Greece Ancient Rome. All ideas related to the offered topic are good enough because these civilizations have a great impact on the modern world. Cover Greek and Roman mythology, describe their traditional public events, a way of living, differences and similarities in poetry, and influence on the modern American society.
- 18th Century Living VS Modern Life. Are American people freer now and how is a modern society divided into classes? What are the advantages of e-mail in contrast to the traditional mailing they used back in the 18th century?
- Frenemies. The way famous political competitors, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson acted often reminded of both friendship and rivalry – which one is correct?
- American Revolution VS French Revolution. Both held back in the VIII century, and both are having similarities & differences.
- The Salem Witch Trials & McCarthy Era in the US history. How they treated people accused of witchcraft in 2 different historical events.
- The idyllic period in the US history is the middle of XX century while the 1960s is known as a tumultuous decade.
- Ancient Greece VS Ancient Rome. Which civilization had a greater impact on the development of contemporary culture & art?
- 3 different branches of Christianity. Common issues, major differences, similarities, examples of traditions, etc.
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Political Essay Compare and Contrast Themes
These topics cover political science and cultural life of different countries. It is time to evaluate political regimes of different countries. Analyze the countries with the echo of communism and those where capitalism dominates; countries where women and men have equal rights versus countries where women are limited to their rights and freedoms.
- Classical Theory of Karl Marx against Modern Capitalistic Movement. Financial and political theories change with the flow of time. High school and college students have to understand the way economics work to get the ideas of different political regimes.
- The war in Syria/Military Situation in Ukraine. The countries could make a union based on the fact they are both regularly attacked by two other hostile countries. However, Ukraine is not officially involved in the war, they say. Research what media shares and analyze the given cases.
- The government of China VS The government of Korea. Both of these nations suffer from the consequences of communism. The second country, specifically North Korea, supports this political regime more than China. What is different and what's in common?
- Welfare Programs in the United States vs. Welfare Programs in the United Kingdom. Although high school and college students believe that these countries look alike in many senses, any related book or movie will show how wrong they are.
- Al Qaeda VS the Islamic State. Which of the terroristic organizations have a greater threat to the world’s peace?
- Legal systems in the United States & Canada: Are they too different in terms of laws, regulations, preventive measures, and other?
- Marriage VS civil union. Which of these types of a partnership between two people in love is less threatening to the image of political figure?
- Debit cards and credit cards: The role of government in establishing various payment methods and responsibility it has in case of any rule break
- Private & public companies. The obligations American government have concerning each of these types of organizations
- Political regime today and back in the 1950s: Things that changed for better and situations that got worse
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for 6th Grade
Students who study in the sixth grade have to receive the simplest homework assignments and compare and contrast essay topics for 6th grade as they lack the experience to analyze something more complex than these:
- Winter or summer: More gorgeous season of year
- Christmas in another country/Christmas at home
- Juice VS water: While water may be healthier, juices are tastier and…
- Dogs and wolves: Similarities & differences
- Weeds and flowers: Why one cannot exist without another
- Eastern or Western USA: Living in both parts in different period of time
- Comic books or novels: The once which is more interesting to read
- Tennis VS ping pong: Your favorite game out of two
- Watching TV instead of reading a book: Difference/similarity in impressions
- Male friends or female friends: Based on such factors as loyalty, sincerity, bravery, and more
Compare and Contrast Topics for Middle School
Have a look at the list of compare and contrast topics for middle school!
- King Author VS Zeus. One of them is a way cooler than another one
- Comparison of the role models in 1950s with modern role models
- How does it feel to watch favorite movies in the cinema and watching films at home?
- The correlation between famous dictators & school bullies
- The consequences of tsunami might be worse than the consequences of hurricane
- Prom Night, Halloween Night, & Christmas Night: Which holiday is more fun?
- Car driving or bicycle driving: Which experience is more difficult?
- 3-star hotels or 5-star hotels: Reasons to choose each of them
- Things the early spacemen had in common with Christopher Columbus
- People who influence teenagers most of all: Parents and celebrities
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for High School Students
If you don't need specific ideas for academic papers, look at the list of general essay topics shared by successful college students. Now, we continue with compare and contrast essay topics for high school.
- Fiction or Non-Fiction Literature: Write about which type of literary works is more helpful for college students and why.
- Assess High School Examinations & College Tests. What is more important? Which styles are recommended to be used in academic writing when studying in different educational institutions? When is it easier to cheat?
- Traditional Learning or Online Learning: Do you find it helpful to be able to take college courses online? Is a traditional way of teaching still better and more effective?
- Atlanta Falcons or New England Patriots: Which of the professional sports clubs is more authoritative and loved by high school students?
- Determine the effectiveness of online advertising and TV ads. What type of advertising channel is more influential on children?
- Printed books/e-Books: Which type of material might be more useful for the modern high school students?
- Wooden houses or story buildings. The significance of each type of construction
- Major differences and similarities between Portugal & Spain: Where is it better to have a vacation nowadays?
- American vision of beauty compared to Japanese vision of beauty: Discuss the standards based on the most recent beauty queens plus handsome men
- How rock music has changed: Rock music of early XX century and nowadays
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for College Students
Finally, there are many ways you can analyze the life with family and on a college campus; important things to consider while studying at school and in university; passing SAT and taking TOEFL; etc. Enjoy the list of 10 compare and contrast essay topics for college students!
- Comparing Life with Parents to Living on Campus: In your essay, write the details about two ways of student's life. Share ideas on why you prefer one of the options (pros and cons of both).
- Where is academic rigor the greatest when it comes to comparing high school education and college learning.
- While Fall is the season of college arrivals, Spring is the time for student departures. Features of different educational seasons.
- Having a look at the meals students get at high school/college and the food they obtain at home from their family members. Which is tastier?
- The remote learning courses slowly replace conventional classes in college. Pros & cons of going technological.
- Living at home with parents compared to living on the college campus on the example of laundry service, cooking, and other everyday household activities.
- Manufacturing jobs against service sector jobs. A right choice of the college student
- Part-time jobs VS seasonal jobs: Pros & cons of each option
- Private colleges or public education: Reasons to make all educational institutions public in the United States
- Advanced placement classes: Better or worse than honors classes?
Easy Compare and Contrast Essay Topics
If you do not want to go deep into the details breaking the head against the wall, choose one of the easy compare and contrast essay topics!
- Twilight & Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Analyze both shows’ characters
- It by Stephen King: Review book with the film
- Julius Caesar & Macbeth: Do these people have anything in common?
- Realism & modernism. Simple similarities & differences
- Poetry VS prose: List literary elements that make these genres different
- Life in a big city compared to village life: Discuss where people are healthier, kinder, more honest, etc.
- Donald Trump against Hilary Clinton: The one who should have won the latest presidential elections in the United States
- Real Madrid & Barcelona: Advantages + disadvantages of both Spanish football clubs
- iPhone VS Android mobile devices: Benefits Android users obtain against benefits iPhone users get
- Tablets or textbooks in school: Advantages each of these devices have when it comes to the process of learning
Things to Compare and Contrast
The last category contains the names of subjects only. Those are some great things to compare and contrast!
- Jails & Asylums
- Renaissance and Baroque Art
- Star Wars & Star Trek
- American Dad VS Family Guy
- Apple or Pineapple
- Moon and Sun
- Greek VS Scandinavian Mythology
- Communism against Capitalism
- New England Colonies or Southern Colonies (it is possible to add Middle Colonies)
- Fiction VS Non-Fiction
Compare and Contrast Essay Example from Writing Guru
Students write better papers when they have some good examples in front of them. Looking for the compare and contrast essay example? Find many free samples on the professional academic writing websites or view these powerful papers shared by the top college writers with us.
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