Comparison and Contrast as Mode of Paragraph Development

"There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast:" – Charles Dickens

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When was the last time you needed and/or wanted to buy something? What were the choices you were presented with? Say, you want a new mobile phone. Would you buy the latest iPhone or a nifty Nokia phone? How about a laptop? Would you get an ASUS notebook or a MacBook Air? Or in choosing which institution of higher learning you would enroll in after high school, would you choose to take your degree course in a university considered the most reputable in the country or in another university offering the same course but has less expensive tuition fee. On which grounds would you base your decision? 

Whenever you make a choice, whether trivial or serious, you’re actually doing some sort of a comparison and contrast. Comparison entails dealing with the similarities or likeness of at least two subjects. Contrast, on the other hand, is tackling the differences between or among topics. Comparison and contrast are complementary to each other and are usually inseparable. One cannot see similarities without seeing the differences as well, and vice versa. An i-Phone and a Nokia phone, by comparison, are both phones. By contrast, however, they differ in manufacturer, appearance, price, and make. The concept of similarities and differences applies with laptops and universities as well. All you have to do is to base your opinion on the differences, and decide from there which of the options presented is better suited to your need and liking. 

Comparison and Contrast

An essay that uses comparison and contrast as its primary mode of paragraph development is an essay that tackles the likeness or similarities, and differences of at least two subjects or topics. 

Writers opt to use comparison and contrast when wanting to do an unbiased discussion or give an attempt to persuade a reader into believing particular perspectives about the world we live in. It also helps us make choices, whether trivial or serious, as well. An example of which is the introduction to this lesson: using comparison and contrast, which between an iPhone and a Nokia phone, a MacBook Air and an ASUS notebook, and two reputable institution of higher learning, would you choose? This mode of paragraph development can also be used to simply entertain audiences with rarely perceived differences of seemingly similar objects, or rarely perceived similarities of seemingly different objects. Similar to every other essay that is written out there, comparison and contrast could inadvertently lead the reader into an insight about the human experience.

Analogy is a common technique that writers use to demonstrate comparison and contrast. It delves beneath the surface differences of at least two subjects expose unperceived and unsuspecting similarities and/or differences. It is often used when a foreign or abstract concept is compared with a much more tangible or more familiar term for readers to better understand the author’s intended meaning. 

Example:

Just as a sword is the weapon of a warrior, a pen is the weapon of a writer. (At first glance – or first mention – the sword and the pen are two seemingly different and distinct objects from each other. But when paired with people who use them – the sword with a warrior and the pen with a writer – one can see a similarity that lies in the objects’ purpose: that of a weapon.)

Other examples of figurative language are also excellent techniques to showcase how comparison and contrast is used. While this is usually seen in literary works such as novels, short stories, and poems, you can also use it in writing your essays. Some of these are simile, metaphor, oxymoron, and personification

A simile is done when there is a direct comparison between or among objects. Expressions with similes are almost always done with the use of the words “like” and “as.” 

Examples:

She was a peasant girl like Joan of Arc. Your eyes are as bright as the stars in the night sky. 

As opposed to a simile, a metaphor is done when there is an indirect comparison between or among objects.

Examples:

“The first hammer-blow in the railway has fallen on me!” (In this example, Rizal’s emotions of hurt and betrayal are being compared with the pain felt when struck with a hammer-blow intended to build the railway.)

Time is gold. (Time is being described as having the same high value as gold.)

An oxymoron happens when two seemingly opposite terms are juxtaposed next to -or near – each other in a single expression.

Examples:

Act naturally, all alone, alone together, auto pilot, a blinding light,”… dead in childbirth…,” deafening silence, a fine mess, a new classic, The Ugly Truth about Beauty (the title of a humorous comparison and contrast type of essay by Dave Barry)

Personification is done when non-humans (e.g. animals, inanimate objects, abstractions) are assigned human characteristics and/or actions. Personification literally means “the process of making something human.”

Examples:

Love is blind, the sun is beating down on my back, time is a betrayer – a villain, the wind is howling

In summary, writers do a creative approach in using comparison and contrast through the use of figurative language. Some examples are analogy, simile, metaphor, oxymoron, and personification. These add color and a deeper meaning to what the author is trying to point out in a given piece of writing.

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