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InPuPOVTDiImSyC How to Write a Comparative Commentary (By an IB student)

Some people find it weighty to be able to write a commentary on two pieces at once, but if you follow the guidelines below it'll be much easier.

Tip #1: Read the two pieces several times till you know what each is about quite well. Make notes on what you will write in each of the following paragraphs as you read. Paragraph 1: The introduction. State what your two pieces of text are, their themes, and their genre (article, poem, etc). Give one difference or one similarity between them e.g. "While both pieces concern themselves with global warming, one is a newspaper article and the other is an interview." Then state your thesis statement that defines what you will be analyzing throughout your commentary. For instance "This commentary will analyze the two pieces in terms of content and purpose, point of view, tone, diction, imagery, and syntax." Tip #2: The introduction should be succinct; try for no more than 100 words. Paragraph 2: Content and Purpose. Talk about the themes and meanings in the two pieces. Are they implicit (hidden) or explicit (clear)? It is important to state the purpose of each piece, such as to entertain, to inform, or they could have a commercial purpose in the case of advertisements or travel logs or such. Who is the intended audience? Also, say whether they are objective or subjective, with justification such as a quote showing that the writer includes her personal opinions. Tip #3: You need to use quotes from the two texts, but not excessively. Including about 2 or 3 in each paragraph is good.

Paragraph 3: Point of view. It is necessary to determine whether the writer is the narrator of the piece, then determine their relationship to the reader (that's you). They could take up a superior, distance stance or a more intimate relationship, but remember to explain why (e.g. "to stir the reader's emotions by getting close to them"). And don't forget a quote to show what you're talking about. You can also mention whether it is first-person or third-person, whether the writer is omniscient, and if we can trust them. Paragraph 4: Tone. Read the pieces well to determine the tone (acrimonious, joyous, sardonic, pompous, pensive, etc). Use quotes to show your conclusion. Explain what effect this has on you as the reader. Does the tone change? Is the atmosphere the same as the writer's tone? Paragraph 5: Diction. Are there active or passive verbs, superlatives, lots of adjectives? Explain why the writer might have chosen this sort of diction. Technical pieces usually have jargon e.g. a sports article. Are there any diction motifs? For instance: a diction motif of hell can be shown by words like fire, flame, and torturous heat. Paragraph 6: Imagery. This paragraph is easy; just pick out any similes or metaphors in the pieces. Or perhaps they have none, and only display literal images like the black cat leaped onto the sofa. Why is this? Imagery can be useful in persuasive pieces to appeal to the audience, by formulating images in their minds. Paragraph 7: Syntax. Does the writer use short sentences or long extended ones? What is the writer's intention by doing this? Consider if the sentences have subordinate clauses; these may make sentences cumbersome or awkward, or even drawn out and meditative. How could this help the writers achieve their purposes? Tip #4: At each stage, consider how the writers choices (whether in tone or diction or syntax or whatever else) serve their purpose, and if it is appropriate for the

audience. If not, this may show a weak piece which you can comment on in your conclusion. Paragraph 8: Conclusion: Did the writers achieve their purposes well? Include a personal opinion such as "I feel the writer of text a succeeded in entertaining the audience using heightened tone, lots of imagery, and diverse syntax. Nonetheless, I prefer text b due to its well-chosen diction that left me quite stimulated."

Comparative Commentary Tips (BY UWC teacher) 1. What should I compare in the works? You may compare anything in the texts theme or other literary Devices e.g. characterisation, imagery, point of view. 2. What does it mean to compare? The texts you compare will have similarities, either in theme or literary devices. An effective comparative essay would usually take a similar theme and consider how the different texts dealt with the theme differently or similarly. 3. Now that Ive identified the similarities and differences in the literary devices, what should I do? Always consider how these devices develop/build up the theme. 4. What if the stories I choose have different themes but a similar literary device e.g. they both characterise the setting to support the theme? The literary device comparison always makes an interesting essay.

In your thesis stmt, state that you will discuss how setting is characterised in the 2 stories and how it is used to create the atmosphere of say, claustrophobia and in the other story, decay etc. Then, proceed to discuss the characterisation of setting in ONE story in relation to its theme, and then follow with the other story. 5. How do I start? - Say which texts you want to analyse (title, author, where it applies, the date/context) - Say what you want to do in the essay. Using a question is an effective tool e.g. I am going to highlight examples of how setting is characterised to create the atmosphere of isolation. Then, youre on your way! 6. Should I always discuss both texts in one paragraph or one text first, then the other text? There is no fixed way to do this. If, for instance, you deal with one point of comparison per paragraph (1st para point of view, 2nd para imagery, 3rd para structure), then discuss both texts in the same paragraph. If for instance, the theme is different for both texts, it wont be a bad idea to deal with one text first, then the other. 7. How do I end the essay? Like with any conclusion, restate your thesis. You could summarise the main points you discussed e.g. In text A, characterisation of setting is used to create a sense of isolation through claustrophobic features of the setting whereas in text B, wide open

spaces and barren landscape are used to create the sense of isolation. If you do not wish to summarise the main points, you could discuss mood or your personal response to the text. The best way to end is to answer the question: So What? Now that Ive written this essay and you, the reader, have read it, what difference does it make? What are its implications for future reference/the world/ an understanding of society etc.

If you are able to dig into these

deeper issues in the conclusion, you are taking on the ultimate challenge of analysis in literature analysing society