Comparison/Contrast Essay

Comparison/Contrast Essay

Choose one of these topics:

1. We often talk about literary characters being in conflict with other people (antagonists or villains), with society, with Nature, or with God. Compare two characters we have studied whose own worst enemy is themselves. In other words, study and compare the two in terms of how their biggest conflict is with the Self. Naturally, Antigone could fit this topic, as could Creon, but also you might consider Othello, Iago, Gatsby, Santiago, Richard Rich, King Henry VIII, Willy Loman, or maybe even Biff Loman. Develop your own thesis.

2. Compare Iago with either Cromwell or Tom Buchanan as villains (or antagonists of the tragic hero) in each story, in an analytical way. What are their motivations? Why do they do what they do? Are they essentially the same in some respects, in spite of great differences—or not? Are their victims the same? There is a bit of room here for comparison and for contrast. Formulate your own thesis and approach to this topic.

3. The relativity of good and evil and the difficulty of how to define them appears in AntigoneOthello, and Death of a SalesmanThe Old Man and the SeaA Man for All Seasons: how characters sometimes seem to vacillate (prevaricate, rationalize, hesitate, misjudge) between one and the other. Sometimes the choices facing the characters are not clear. Perhaps they face the problem of how choosing the right thing may conflict with choosing the expedient (or necessary) thing. Discuss the issue of choosing (or deciding) between good and evil, and compare two characters in terms of how they deal with this dilemma. Choices for this would be Creon, Antigone, Othello, King Henry VIII, Thomas More, Willy Loman, Linda Loman, or Santiago.

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