Comparative Analysis Essay

Write an essay of 500-750 words (2-3 pages) in which you compare two folk fairy tales.  You may choose from the following pairings:

   “Cinderella” and “Vasilissa”

   “Cinderella” and “In the Land of Small Dragon”

   “Beauty and the Beast” and “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon”

In this essay you will point out what you see as the main similarities.  You will then go on to discuss the differences that you think are most significant.  As part of your discussion be sure to take into consideration what these stories might mean

Your essay should be submitted as a Word document in standard MLA format (double spaced, etc.).

Your essay should be carefully proofread.

No need to consult outside sources on this other than the text and the handout on Bruno Bettelheim.  This is your analysis.  Any evidence of inappropriate use of outside sources will result in no credit for this essay.

In terms of organizing your essay, I recommend…

  • A brief introduction in which you introduce the two tales to be compared.  You should point out where these stories came from.  While there are no authors since they came from the folk tradition, you should identify who is credited as re-teller of this particular version.  For example, the tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk” in our text is credited to Joseph Jacobs and was published in 1892.  (You can get this information from the introductory note to the tale.)
  • As you move into the “body” of your essay, you should have a paragraph that deals with the similarities. (This could be a multiple paragraph section if you have a lot to say.) Again, this is where the introductory section on folk tales should be valuable.  Think about things like type of tale (p. 246), situation, common motifs (p. 248), character types, etc.
  • You should then have a paragraph (or more) on the important distinctions. What makes them different?  Despite their similarities, what makes them unique or special in their own way?
  • In another paragraph consider meaning.  Perhaps the two stories under consideration have similar meanings.  If so point this out.  If the stories seem to have different meanings, point this out as well.  Remember, a story can have multiple meanings or messages. As pointed out earlier, meaning does not mean “moral.” It might be better to frame this in terms of “What might a child take from this story in terms of messages or meanings?” It is recommended that you go back and check out the introductory section on folk tales in our text, particularly pp. 250-251, and the handout I have provided for you on Bruno Bettelheim.  I recommend that you bring our text or Bettelheim (or both) into your discussion at this point.
  • A brief conclusion.  Just wrap it up!