Writing a Module A Comparative Essay is not the same as writing a generic textual analysis essay! But don't worry. We will clear things up for you!
Is Module A giving you a headache? Are you struggling to write you comparative responses? Fear not! In this article, we’re going to walk you through how to write a Tempest Hag-Seed comparative essay.
Read this, and you’ll learn how to prepare insightful Module A: Textual Conversations notes put them to work in comparative essay structures to make your classmates jealous.
Before we write our comparative essays for Textual Conversations, we need to understand the Module.
So, let’s quickly examine NESA’s Module A: Textual Conversations Rubric:
In this module, students explore the ways in which the comparative study of texts can reveal resonances and dissonances between and within texts. Students consider the ways that a reimagining or reframing of an aspect of a text might mirror, align or collide with the details of another text. In their textual studies, they also explore common or disparate issues, values, assumptions or perspectives and how these are depicted. By comparing two texts students understand how composers (authors, poets, playwrights, directors, designers and so on) are influenced by other texts, contexts and values, and how this shapes meaning.
Students identify, interpret, analyse and evaluate the textual features, conventions, contexts, values and purpose of two prescribed texts. As students engage with the texts they consider how their understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of both texts has been enhanced through the comparative study and how the personal, social, cultural and historical contextual knowledge that they bring to the texts influences their perspectives and shapes their own compositions.
In our previous article, Module A: The Tempest & Hagseed Part 1 Overview, we broke down the Module A rubric into individual statements.
Let’s quickly summarise some key points that you need to remember:
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Writing comparative essays may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be!
Comparative essays follow a systematic process (just like any other essay!):
Don’t worry, we’ll go through each step in detail further in the article.
Before you begin writing an essay, you need to have clear, concise and well-developed notes!
It is better to spend hours producing well-developed notes than perfecting and memorising one essay.
Remember, regurgitating a memorised essay will not give you marks!
Instead, you need to answer the question. Notes will help you confidently answer a variety of questions because you have a wide range of analyses.
Make sure you are regularly updating your notes as you go. You don’t want to leave it all until the last minute before your exams because you will have no time to prepare.
You should always have a wide range of evidence that can be used for a variety of questions. This way, you are ready to tackle any question thrown at you!
Here are some things that you should look out for:
Also, remember the 3 most important aspects of this module are the THREE C’s.
You should structure your notes in a table that directly compare the 2 texts.
This will help you draw connections between the texts and strengthen your analyses.
However, do NOT fall into the trap of drawing meagre links between the 2 texts for the sake of comparing.
Make sure the 2 pieces of evidence you select from the texts are comparable!
Additionally, you should categorise your evidence into different themes or main ideas.
This way, you can quickly recall relevant evidence when you are sorting out different arguments for your essay.
To get you started, let’s take a look at how we can structure our notes:
THEME 1 / IDEA 1
|Where||Whereabouts in the text is the evidence found?|
What is happening in the storyline?
|Whereabouts in the text is the evidence found?|
What is happening in the storyline?
|How are the 2 texts related or dissimilar?|
(Think about how they align, collide, and/or mirror)
|Context||How did the composers’ context influence the text?||How did the composers’ context influence the text?|
This is an effective way to structure your Module A notes because you have a side-by-side comparison of the two texts, information about the context, AND it is organised by significant ideas.
Once you have some solid notes, you can now start writing comparative essays for The Tempest and Hag-Seed.
To write a good essay, you need to know exactly what the question is asking… and ANSWER IT.
So, let’s see how we can unpack a question:
Essay questions often require you to do multiple things.
When you read an essay question once, you will inevitably overlook key aspects that will cost you marks!
This is why you must read the question multiple times to fully understand what it is asking you to do.
When you are reading the question for the 2nd time, you should always highlight keywords and action verbs.
This will ensure that you do not miss out on any essential elements of the question, especially when you are looking back at the question.
Highlighting the keywords is not enough! You need to define these keywords and phrases too.
To do this, you must rephrase these keywords and/or phrases into words that makes more sense to you!
Doing this helps you understand the question more clearly and also tackle every aspect of the question!
Let’s take a look at an example from our 25 Module A Textual Conversations Practice Essay Questions for the Eng Adv HSC Article.
Atwood’s contemporary exploration of imprisonment echoes Shakespeare’s message about humanity’s flaw.
To what extent does is the above statement true in light of your study of the textual conversation between Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Atwood’s Hag-Seed?
In your responses, make close reference to both texts.
The keywords/phrases in this question are:
Let’s define these keywords/phrases:
Doesn’t the question make so much more sense now?
Now, when you are planning and writing your essays, you must make sure that you are dealing with all those aspects we just identified.
Many students skip the planning stage because they think that it is a waste of time.
But this is wrong, planning will save you time and produce a better essay!
Think about all the times you had to go back to your notes because you didn’t prepare which evidence you want to use. Think about all the times you wrote half an essay, just to start again because you can’t think of another argument.
When you plan, you know exactly what you will be writing. You will have your thesis, arguments and evidence ready to go!
So, let’s see how we can scaffold a comparative essay
Once you unpack the question, you need to answer it!
In this step, you don’t need a well-developed and refined thesis statement yet.
Just think about what you want to say in response to the question and list them out!
Remember, answer the question, not regurgitate a memorised essay.
Now, you should list some arguments that support each thesis idea.
If you remember some evidence from the top of your head, jot them down too!
The aim of this step is to help you figure out the best thesis to write your essay.
You should pick the thesis statement that has the strongest arguments and evidence!
Now that you know how what you want to write, you need to refine your thesis.
Rework your thesis so that it is sophisticated and answers the question.
Note, sophisticated does not refer to “sophisticated language”.
Instead, a sophisticated thesis refers to a thesis that explores sophisticated themes and ideas.
For example, you don’t want a simple thesis like:
“Atwood’s modern twist of Shakespeare’s exploration of imprisonment highlights that humans are capable of committing bad deeds.“
Instead, you need to ask as many “hows“, “whys” and “whats” as you can to create a strong thesis.
Let’s refine our previous thesis:
“Atwood shifts Shakespeare’s focus on the externally imposed imprisonment of individuals to self-imposed imprisonment of those who are driven by guilt and shame. This is more relatable for the modern audience as there is an increased understanding of the fragility of the human psyche compared to the Elizabethan era. However, despite these changes, Atwood still echoes Shakespeare’s message of the importance of forgiveness, as rage is an inevitable human trait that can cause detrimental effects on oneself and others when left uncontrolled.”
Now that you have a refined thesis, you need to figure out what your arguments will be.
Refer to your list of arguments from Step 3b to help you form strong arguments.
Too often, students divide their arguments by allocating the first half of their thesis to the 1st paragraph, and the second half of their thesis to the 2nd paragraph.
Do not fall into this trap! Rewording your thesis (or part of your thesis) does not make a strong argument.
Strong arguments are supposed to extend on your thesis by providing more depth.
Ask more whys, whats and hows!
After you’ve decided what your arguments are, it’s time to select your strongest evidence.
Take a look at your notes and pick out the evidence that fully supports your arguments.
Remember, ensure that you have a variety of high order techniques, stylistic techniques and techniques about the form.
Now that you know what you want to write, you need to figure out how to structure your essay.
There are a few ways you can structure a comparative essay.
Remember, there is no right or wrong structure. Just the one that works for you.
So, let’s look at what these structures are, their pros and cons and see which one is good for you:
The integrated approach is when you analyse both texts in 1 paragraph in an alternating manner.
The paragraph structure allocates a paragraph for each text, per idea.
Your introduction must answer the question and explain your argument.
It also needs to explain how your thesis relates to the text and module and present the themes you will discuss. You also need to list your arguments and present a statement that connects your texts to the Module (in this case Mod A: Textual Conversation).
You should know what your thesis is by now.
Take this time to reword your thesis to make it more clear and concise.
The thematic framework simply introduces the themes you will be discussing and explains how you will approach them.
Allocate a sentence or two to quickly introduce your arguments. These will become a signpost for your topic sentences in your body paragraphs.
Finally, you need to link your introduction to the Module A rubric.
If you need a little refreshing on what the Module A rubric requires you to do, read our previous article, Module A: The Tempest and Hag-seed Part 1: Overview. There we break the rubric down into individual statements and connect it to The Tempest and Hag-seed.
The body is comprised of a series of paragraphs.
When you are writing your body paragraphs, you need to consistently draw links to your thesis, and the question.
Don’t be afraid to signpost!
Use words from the question and your thesis to show your readers that you are answering the question throughout your whole response!
This way, you ensure that you are writing a cohesive essay.
Concise and clear topic sentences are essential for a killer essay.
It needs to combine the overall argument of your essay and relate it to the specific idea of the body paragraph and text!
Regardless of whichever structure you decide to use, you still need to analyse your texts using the T.E.E.L structure.
Let’s take a closer look at how we can use the T.E.E.L structure in our paragraphs.
It is important that you are consistently drawing comparisons between the 2 texts in your body paragraphs.
This means that you need to:
You should already have some comparable evidence from your notes.
However, if you don’t, a good way to figure this out is to ask yourself what did Atwood change or kept the same from Shakespeare.
This includes the storyline, characters, significant literary techniques, form, genre, style… you get the point!
Also, don’t forget to compare the themes and ideas that both composers explore!
Using connective words is an easy way to show the markers that you are comparing the 2 texts AND it only takes a couple of words!
Here is a list of some common connectives:
|Mirrored by||On the contrary|
|In the same way||Whereas|
The linking sentence is the final sentence of your analysis of 1 piece of evidence.
It aims to explain the importance of the evidence in supporting the argument.
An effective way to do this is to relate the evidence to the composer’s purpose and the audience position.
A good conclusion comprehensively summarises the argument that you have made. You need to:
Each of these statements should be at least one sentence.
The best method is to take the following approach:
In this step, restate the thesis in new terms that still signposts the question.
The thesis in your conclusion can be much shorter and concise than your introduction’s thesis.
This is because you don’t have to introduce and explain everything. Your readers should know what you are referring to now.
For example, our original thesis is:
“Atwood shifts Shakespeare’s focus on the externally imposed imprisonment of individuals to self-imposed imprisonment of those who are driven by guilt and shame. This is more relatable for the modern audience as there is an increased understanding of the fragility of the human psyche compared to the Elizabethan era. However, despite these changes, Atwood still echoes Shakespeare’s message of the importance of forgiveness, as rage is an inevitable human trait that can cause detrimental effects on oneself and others when left uncontrolled.“
We can restate it to:
“Although Atwood focuses on the self-imposed imprisonment of individuals as opposed to Shakespeare’s externally imposed imprisonment, she still echoes his message about the importance of forgiveness. This is because rage is part of the human condition and must be controlled before it detrimentally affects oneself and others.”
Then you must reassert the themes we discussed.
To do this, you need to quickly summarise your arguments and connect them to the prominent theme you discussed in the body paragraphs.
Finally, we must make a statement about the module.
To do this, you need to:
You have reached the end! Now you know how you should write a comparative essay for The Tempest and Hag-seed it is up to you to put it into practice. Now you need to go get writing!
Our dedicated Module A: The Tempest and Hag-Seed course will take the mystery out of Textual Conversations and put the magic in your responses!