How do I write a poetry comparison essay?

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The most important part of any English essay is the planning: you need to make sure that you know what you are writing about before you start. With a poetry comparison essay, you will usually be looking for similarities and differences in the poems. For a coursework essay, you can take your time over this, and the same skills can be used to do the same thing efficiently in an exam. 

Step 1: READ!! Read the poems, and then read them again, and probably again just to be sure.

Step 2: After reading through both poems thoroughly, you can make notes for each poem according to STRIP factors: Structure, Tone, Rhythm/Rhyme, Imagery and Person. "Person" can refer to both the people reading the poem, and the 'speaker' or the voice telling the poem, so you could make notes on each one individually if relevant.

Step 3: The next step is to put all of these ideas into a plan, which compares the use of these STRIP factors. Usually GCSE questions are based on the themes, so you will be focusing on how the STRIP factors are used to create  (or challenge!) the theme shared by the two poems. Comparing your notes, you are aiming to find a similarilty and a difference in the language - that is, imagery, tone, and person; as well as a similarity and a difference in structure - which includes the 'structure' part of STRIP as well as rhythm and rhyme. 

Once all that planning is done and dusted, you can write the essay! 

Part 1: Introduction: The introduction should be short and clearly explain which poems you will be writing about, and what it is in each poem that you will be discussing. 

Part 2: Body: This is where all those similarities and differences go: it will depend on the poems, but usually it is best to alternate similarlity and difference. This will mean you have four paragraphs, which could go like this:

Similarity (Language)

Difference (Language)

Similarity (Structure)

Difference (Structure)

Part 3: Conclusion: After these four paragraphs, you can write your conclusion, which should be a few sentances long, and explicitly answer both the question and the introduction. 

And you're done! 

Molly D. GCSE English Language tutor, GCSE English Literature tutor, ...

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is an online GCSE English Literature tutor with MyTutor studying at Exeter University

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