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Comparing fiction texts

Comparing fiction texts

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Summary

Comparing fiction texts

​​In a nutshell

Fiction texts are written using imagination and include novels, short stories, poetry and drama. Comparing fiction texts and analysing their similarities and differences allows you to gain a deeper understanding of each respective text. In this summary, you'll learn why comparing texts can be productive, and how to structure a comparison. 



Why compare fiction texts?

Comparing fiction texts is beneficial because it can help the reader understand texts on another level. For example, comparing two novels of the same genre written with different narrative structures might shed light on why each author chose to structure their novel in that specific way. Similarly, comparing a novel written 300 years ago with a modern novel would highlight societal differences and make you think about all the ways in which life has changed. 


There are many different features and techniques that are interesting to use to compare fiction texts, including genre, setting and context, characterisation, narrative structure and perspective, and lexical choice.



Structuring comparisons

It's important to make a good comparison between two texts to avoid confusing them, or being ineffective. In each paragraph, one feature should be chosen to explore and its presentation in each text. For each feature explored, it should be stated whether the texts are similar or different in this respect. The comparison should be detailed with evidence given for each point that is made, and reasons should be suggested for each similarity or difference.


When comparing texts, language that both compares and contrasts should be used. 


Examples

​​Comparing 

Contrasting 

similar/similarly

on the other hand

equal/equally

in comparison

in the same way

conversely

alike/likewise

on the contrary


Example 

The novels 'The Catcher in the Rye' by J. D. Salinger and 'The Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath are similar in genre. These novels are both coming of age stories which describe the difficulties their protagonists face growing into adults in their respective societies. Holden Caulfield is afraid of growing up and of the responsibilities of being an adult. On the other hand, Esther Greenwood's obstacle lies in trying to figure out what she wants in life, she is struggling due to the societal expectations imposed on women. Esther's dilemma is illustrated through the metaphor of the fig tree where all the figs represent her prospective life choices, but they all die before she can choose one. In the same way, Holden's key fear is also illustrated through a metaphor, he describes himself as 'the catcher in the rye', saving kids from growing up by stopping them from running off the cliff and falling into adulthood. 


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Exercises

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Why compare two fiction texts?

How to structure a comparison between fiction texts?

What language should be used when comparing texts?

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