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How do I answer a comparative literature question?

For a comparative literature question, there are different ways of organising your response into paragraphs. The thematic approach is a good way to go: comparing the texts theme by theme. For example, if the question is asking you to compare the ways in which emotion is shown, you could split your answer into, e.g. suppressed rage, ambivalence etc. It is a good idea to have an introduction and a conclusion for any essay response. Keep the introduction short and concise (two or three sentences). The conclusion should summarise and synthesise what you have discussed already.

It is important to note that a comparison question in this context is asking about both similarities and differences. Do not simply describe how the two texts are entirely similar or different.

A good outline for a paragraph comparing two texts, A and B, is shown below:

* Similarities between A and B
* Differences between A and B
* Sum up the comparison within this theme

Always back up your points with relevant direct quotation. These quotes should be kept short (one line maximum), and will provide evidence to reinforce and support your line of argument.

Finally, it is good practice to make a brief plan before answering this type of essay question. This will ensure you know exactly what you are going to be talking about in each paragraph, which will save you time in the long run.

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