Matrix Blog

English 11-12

How to Write a Comparative The Tempest Hag-Seed Essay | Module A: Textual Conversations Part 2

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 your comparative responses? Fear not! In this article, we’re going to walk you through how to write a Tempest Hag-Seed comparative essay.


Textual Conversations Part 2 – How to Write a Comparative The Tempest Hag-Seed 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.


What’s in this article:


The Tempest & Hagseed – Textual Analysis: What is Module A?

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.

Source: Module A Rubric from NESA website


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:

  1. Identify the similarities and differences between the 2 texts, including values, perspectives, and composition of the texts
  2. Understand that texts are a reflection of their context
  3. Understand how the composer’s creative decisions shape your understandings of social issues, values, and assumptions
  4. Analyse the form, style and composition of the texts and how it creates meaning
  5. Understand that your interpretation of the text is influenced by your context



Need help with Module A?

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!

Start HSC English confidently

Expert teachers, detailed feedback, one-to-one help! Learn from home with Matrix+ Online English courses.


How to write a comparative essay for The Tempest and Hag-seed

Writing comparative essays may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

Comparative essays follow a systematic process (just like any other essay!):

  1. Make sure you have clear, concise and accurate analyses of your texts
  2. You need to unpack the question and compose your thesis
  3. You need to pick your themes and structure for the essay
  4. Scaffold your response
  5. Compose your essay

Don’t worry, we’ll go through each step in detail further in the article.



1. Preparing Notes

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.


What do I have to look for?

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:

  • Evidence from The Tempest and Hag-seed (including techniques, structure, style, and form)
  • Analysis
  • Comment on the context
  • Location of technique in text


Also, remember the 3 most important aspects of this module are the THREE C’s.

  • Comparison: Compare the two texts for similarities and differences (values, composition, storyline etc.)
  • Comment: Analyse the evidence
  • Context: How does the composer’s context influence this particular use of evidence



How do I structure my Module A notes?

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:


Shakespeare Atwood Comparison
Evidence 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)

Evidence Evidence/Technique






Analysis Analysis
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.


Here are some sample notes from a 2019 Student



2. Unpack the question

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:



a. Read the question multiple times

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.


b. Highlight keywords and action verbs

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.


c. Define keywords

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!


d. Example

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:

  • Contemporary exploration of imprisonment
  • Echo
  • Humanity’s flaw
  • To what extent


Let’s define these keywords/phrases:

  • Contemporary exploration of imprisonment: Investigating the implications of imprisonment in the modern-day context as opposed to Shakespeare’s time
  • Echo: A reverberation – similar but different
  • Humanity’s flaw: A fundamental aspect of all humans/society that can cause a detriment to individuals/society
  • To what extent: How much – evaluate


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.





3. Scaffolding a comparative essay

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


a. Formulate a quick answer to the question

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.


b. List possible arguments (and evidence you can use!)

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!


c. Refine your thesis

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.


c (i). Example

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.

  • What is Shakespeare’s exploration of imprisonment?
  • What is Atwood’s modern twist on Shakespeare’s exploration of imprisonment?
  • What is kept same and what changed?
  • Why does Atwood do this?
  • Why are humans capable of committing bad deeds?
  • How does Atwood and Shakespeare highlight this?


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.”



d. Figure out your main arguments

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!


e. Select your strongest evidence

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.


f. Figure out the structure of your essay

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:


Integrated approach

The integrated approach is when you analyse both texts in 1 paragraph in an alternating manner.



Integrated approach
Pros  Cons
  • You remember to draw comparisons between the texts
  • Allows readers to see a direct comparison of the 2 texts
  • Paragraphs can get quite long
  • Sometimes, students don’t explore the evidence in enough depth because they’re jumping to the 2nd text too quickly


Paragraph approach

The paragraph structure allocates a paragraph for each text, per idea.




Paragraph approach
Pros  Cons
  • Paragraphs are shorter
  • Easier to explore a single text in depth
  • Students may forget to draw connections between the 2 texts and end up writing a paragraph that is solely focused on 1 text
  • May have a higher word count because students need to repeat information from the previous paragraph to compare the texts


4. Writing the introduction

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).


a. Write your thesis

You should know what your thesis is by now.

Take this time to reword your thesis to make it more clear and concise.


b. Introduce your thematic framework

The thematic framework simply introduces the themes you will be discussing and explains how you will approach them.


c. Introduce your main arguments

Allocate a sentence or two to quickly introduce your arguments. These will become a signpost for your topic sentences in your body paragraphs.


d. Link it back to the Module A rubric

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.





5. Writing the body

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.


a. Write a topic sentence

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!


b (i). Compose your argument for The Tempest and Hag-seed using the T.E.E.L structure

Regardless of whichever structure you decide to use, you still need to analyse your texts using the T.E.E.L structure.

TEEL, green, arrows, technique, evidence, example , link, white words,


  • Technique: Introduce your technique/evidence
  • Example: Provide an example (quote or description of the use of the technique)
  • Effect: Analyse your technique by discussing the effect of this technique (How does it develop meaning?)
  • Link: Link the technique and analysis to your argument by explaining its relevance to your position on the question


Let’s take a closer look at how we can use the T.E.E.L structure in our paragraphs.


b(ii). Compare your analysis

It is important that you are consistently drawing comparisons between the 2 texts in your body paragraphs.

This means that you need to:

  • Discuss the evidence that directly relates to each other (whether it is a resonance or a dissonance)

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!

  • Use connective/transition words

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:

Similarities Differences
Similarly Contrastingly
Mirrored by On the contrary
Furthermore However
Likewise Unlike
In the same way Whereas


c. Write a linking sentence

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.

  • Composer’s purpose: The composer’s message
  • Audience position: How would the audience react? What is the message they receive?



6. Writing the conclusion

A good conclusion comprehensively summarises the argument that you have made. You need to:

  1. Restate your thesis, preferably in synonymous terms
  2. Reassert your thematic framework
  3. Make a final statement about what you have learned from the module

Each of these statements should be at least one sentence.

The best method is to take the following approach:


a. Connect to the thesis

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.”


b. Connect to your themes

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.


c. Connect to the module

Finally, we must make a statement about the module.

To do this, you need to:

  • Know the rubric well
  • Link your thesis to the composers’ purpose and audience position
  • And don’t forget the state the purpose of the comparison


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!

Written by Tammy Dang

Tammy is a former student of Matrix and is now studying Law / Media (Screen and Sound Production) at UNSW. She is a Digital Content Writer for the Matrix Education blog. Tammy aspires to become a lawyer in the future while continuing to run her art business.


© Matrix Education and, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Get free study tips and resources delivered to your inbox.

Join 75,893 students who already have a head start.

Our website uses cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies. Read our cookies statement.

OK, I understand