Basic Terms and Terminology Relating to Comparing and Contrasting Themes from Print and Other Sources

  • A comparison: Identifying the similarities among and between two or more things.
  • Contrasts: Contrasting things, in contrast to a comparision, is identifying the differences between and among two or more things.
  • A genre: A genre is a grouping or classification. For example, there are different genres of music, fine art, and texts or literature. fiction and nonfiction
  • Themes: Distinctly different from genres, themes are those recurring and unifying concepts, ideas and, sometimes, lessons about life to be learned in a text and that serve as the base and foundational idea or concept of the particular work.

Comparing and Contrasting

Simply defined, a comparison is identifying the similarities among and between two or more things. Contrasting things, on the other hand, is identifying the differences between and among two or more things.

As previously discussed, one type of text is a Compare and Contrast text. Compare and contrast texts are quite popular among teachers and professors in the academic setting, but they are also popular in the business and civic environment.

These texts, simply stated, explore the similarities and differences between and among different things.

For example, a compare and contrast text can be used to compare and contrast:

  • Aristotle, Plato and Socrates
  • At least the different kinds of sentences or texts
  • Arithmetic, geometry and statistics
  • Globalism and nationalism
  • The Republican Party, the Democratic Party and the Independent Party

The purpose of a compare and contrast text is to provide the readers of the text with a deeper understanding of two or more concepts or things.

In addition to reading and comprehending compare and contrast texts, your TEAS examination will test your ability to compare and contrast themes from a variety of sources and from a wide and diverse set of readings.

Artistic Genres

A genre is a grouping or classification. For example, there are different genres of music, fine art, and texts or literature. fiction and nonfiction

Some of the different genres of music include, among others:

  • Classical music
  • Folk music
  • Electronic music
  • Pop music
  • Country music
  • Rock and roll music
  • The Blues

Some of the different genres of art include, among others:

  • Architecture
  • Sculpture
  • Still life art
  • Renaissance art
  • Impressionism art
  • Abstract art

Literature, on the other hand, has two major genres which are fiction and nonfiction and a large variety of sub genres under these two main genres:

Nonfiction:

  • Nonfiction narratives
  • Essays which are nonfiction
  • An autobiography
  • A biography
  • A science book or another textbook
  • A Biography is a written account of another person's life.

Fiction:

  • Nonfiction narratives
  • Poetry
  • Plays and drama
  • Science fiction
  • Romance novels
  • Mysteries
  • Children's books
  • Mythology
  • Fairy tales
  • Fables
  • Short stories
  • Epics
  • Legends
  • Folklore

When you are asked to compare and contrast two or more different genres of literature, some of the most obvious similarities could be:

  • Both, or all, of the readings are fiction and the remainder is nonfiction.
  • Both, or all, of the readings are nonfiction and the remainder is fiction.
  • Both, or all, of the readings are children's' fairy tales and the remainder are nonfictional readings about wild animals.
  • Both, or all, of the readings are mythology and the remainder is legends.

Then, you could go further and identify other similarities among the different pieces of literature, as follows.

Of the multiple readings,

  • All of the readings are fiction but one is a romance novel and the remainder is mysteries.
  • Both, or all, of the readings are nonfiction but one is a botany text book and the remainder is anatomy and physiology text books.
  • Both, or all, of the readings are children's' fairy tales but one was written by a German author and the others were written by a Danish author.
  • Both, or all, of the readings are mythology but one of these myths is Greek mythology and the other is Roman mythology.

Themes

Themes, which are distinctly different from genres, are those recurring and unifying concepts, ideas and, sometimes, lessons about life to be learned in a text that serve as the base and foundational idea or concept of the particular work.

The primary theme occurs and is bolstered throughout the text, however, at times, there are multiple secondary themes in addition to the primary theme of the piece of literature.

At times, it is challenging and rather difficult to identify the theme of the piece of literature. It is often implicit and hidden; as such, it is up to the reader of the text to determine the primary theme and secondary themes, if and when they exist.

Below are some common themes found in literature:

  • War, conflicts and peace as in the books Gone with the Wind and the Red and the Black
  • The circle of life as in the movie The Lion King
  • Justice as found in the Merchant of Venice and To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Love and romance as found in Romeo and Juliet and Gone with the Wind
  • The battle of good versus evil as found in the entire Harry Potter series as loved by people of all ages
  • Survival such as those survival stories like On the Beach
  • Heroes, heroines and heroism in such literary works as Profiles in Courage and biographies of war heroes like Dwight Eisenhower and General Patton.
  • Human suffering as in Schindler's List and The Diary of a Young Girl: The Diary of Anne Frank

Although the themes immediately above are perhaps the most commonly used themes, they are not an exhaustive list of possible themes so when you are taking your TEAS exam, it is suggested that you remain open to and receptive of other primary and secondary themes in a piece of writing.

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