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How to Write a Comparison Paper

Updated on November 28, 2016

Coming Up with Topics

The key to a good comparison paper is to write about topics that not only interest you, but are going to have a decent number of similarities and differences. A comparison paper topic can range from discussing different poems with similar themes to two different pieces of art work with similar meanings or styles. An example of a relatively decent topic would be discussing the similarities in two pieces of art work from ancient times. For example you could discuss the similarities between the Mars of Todi and a Couple Sarcophagus. This would be an interesting topic because of the history found in both pieces of artwork.

Mars of Todi, Bronze, Early 4th Century B.C.
Mars of Todi, Bronze, Early 4th Century B.C. | Source
Etruscan Couple Sarcophagus, Terracotta, Late 6th Century B.C.
Etruscan Couple Sarcophagus, Terracotta, Late 6th Century B.C. | Source

Gathering Facts

The next step is to gather all the facts you can find about the pieces of artwork in order to figure out what they have in common. Ways you can look for similarities would be:

  • materials used in creating each piece
  • what was each piece used for (ceremony/funeral?)
  • quality of each piece
  • influences
  • sense of culture

Once you have gathered all the necessary information you can begin writing your paper. In order to have a convincing comparison paper you need to keep focus on the fact that even though the two pieces of artwork are different and from different periods they have some similarities.

When examining two pieces of artwork it's nice to use the internet search for facts about each piece that way you can get a sense of what to write about. Also, you want to look into the cultures that created each piece and if there are any similarities there. For example with these two pieces you would examine the Etruscan culture and the Greek culture to get a sense of the time and what was going on during the construction of the two pieces.

Writing Process

Now it's time to hit the ground running and put all of your information into an organized and well thought out paper. First you will need and introduction paragraph describing your two pieces of artwork. Now the opening paragraph may seem like you are only pointing out the differences, but it's your job as the writer to tie those differences into the paper and some how find similarities in them. You could start off by saying:

  • The Mars of Todi and the Couple Sarcophagus are two different pieces with subtle similarities.

This allows you to introduce the differences in a way that will tie them into your paper. When describing the pieces together you want to make sure to switch from one to the other that way you can better tie them in together. Next you describe the pieces.

  • The Couple Sarcophagus is a sculpture of a man and wife made of terracotta and comes from the late 6th century B.C., and displays a man and wife on their marital be. One will notice an affection between the couple, in their posture and the way the husband brings his wife close to hi by putting his arm around her. The Mars of Todi is a bronze sculpture made in the early 4th century B.C. and is said to be dedicated to a god as a votive offering, and has no connection with a funerary service; it was ritually buried in a ditch because it was struck by lightening. Both statues have hand gestures that seem relaxed and real, yet different items were held within them. In the Couple Sarcophagus, they probably held an egg symbolizing fertility in the after-life, while the Mars of Todi held a sacrificial bowl and a spear, possibly displaying the offer to the gods.

The next part of the paper will be focused on the similarities within the pieces.

  • Both sculptures, however, do exhibit skilled craftsmanship in both clay in the Couple Sarcophagus and bronze in the Mars of Todi. The couple is displayed to be life-like and the viewer gets a sense of fashion in Etruscan society. The artist used the strands of hair falling over the woman's shoulders and breasts to help show her curvaceous body and enhance the life-like quality of the sarcophagus. The Mars of Todi displays a wonderful skill as well, in bronze. The artist placed emphasis on the patterns in this sculpture. The realism reveals itself in the leather construction of his breast plate and in the construction of the flaps hanging over his tunic. The attention paid to the tunic shows that the statue is in motion and gives the viewer a life-like sense of the texture of the tunic and the leather breast plate. Each flap on the bottom of the breast plate was made separately to give the viewer the idea of movement and realism. Both artists of the different sculptures help enhance the details in order to bring the statues to life, and both sculptures are influenced by the Greeks.

The next paragraph is used to touch on final points and to close up your paper.

  • Both of these statues reveal the differences between Etruscan and Greek culture. In Etruscan society the bond between a husband and wife was very important and displays of affection were not frowned upon, as illustrated in the Couple Sarcophagus. However, the Greeks never would of shown their women publicly interacting with their husbands or any male. Any woman who did was seen as classless and more of a harlot. Now the Mars of Todi shows a male figure fully clothed. Even though this piece is very Greek, it is not typical of Greek statues. In Greece, most male statues were nude. In their culture displaying the male body in it's true form was somewhat powerful. Even though the structures are completely different and were constructed for different reasons, both pieces of artwork exhibit excellent craftsmanship and give viewers a sense of the culture and how it was changing with time.


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