You will be writing a character comparison for your third essay based on two characters from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Analysis frequently involves comparison (Comparison is used as an all-purpose term that covers both comparing and contrasting – meaning that is understood that you will look at both similarities and differences) in some form. Taking a close look at two related ideas/characters allows each element to cast light and enhance our understanding of the other. The purpose of comparison is to call attention to the unique features of something by holding it up against something similar but significantly different.
The first step in this process is to select which characters you will compare. There are several pairings that make obvious choices – Ophelia/Gertrude, Hamlet/Laertes, Horatio/Rosencrantz & Guildenstern – but any character is up for grabs for this essay. Also, looking at characters by type may be useful; sons, fathers, friends, advisors, etc. Sometimes an unusual pairing casts light on something that until this point had been hidden, but if there is no reason to compare two characters, let it go.
Once you’ve selected your characters you need to determine what your claim will be about the comparison. Remember, this is not just a list of similarities and differences; you are attempting to make a point. The main things to keep in mind when selecting characters is this:
1. Does it make sense to compare these two characters?
2. What question will the comparison help answer?
3. What is the point for comparison?
When looking at characters keep in mind that the way we analyze their actions and develop insights about them come from three areas:
1. What he/she says
2. What he/she does
3. What other characters say about him/her
Please keep your analysis grounded in the text. Provide support for your claims.
There are several ways to organize your essay and your structure should indicate a clear, thoughtful process towards offering proof of your thesis. When you write a comparison essay you are not simply writing a book report in tandem – where the characters’ actions are written about side by side and left at that – you are analyzing the similarities and differences and attempting to offer insight into both characters.
Please refer to http://web.presby.edu/writingcenter/guides/eng1.html for how to cite Shakespeare correctly in MLA format.
Length: 3 pages, double spaced, 12pt Times New Roman Font
Format: Academic voice – this means your essay is written in the third person, no “I, etc.”
MLA formatting is needed for the heading and citation.
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