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How to Write an Essay Comparing a Movie and the Book
  • Sep 2022
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How to Write an Essay Comparing a Movie and the Book

22nd September 2022

People who read a book before seeing the film adaptation frequently believe that the book is superior to the film. When asked why, they just shrug and answer, "It just was."

This response is great when discussing a movie with your friends, but if you have to write a comparison essay about a book and its cinematic adaptation, your teacher will want a bit more (okay, a lot more) than "it simply was."

Continue reading to learn how to create a great book and movie comparison essay if you need a push to help you transcend beyond the fundamental "I just enjoy it more" level of comparison.

How to Write a Killer Book and Movie Comparison Essay

The simple prospect of beginning a new assignment can often produce more tension than you'd want to acknowledge. However, by following a few key strategies, you may reduce your tension and compose a fantastic essay.

To illustrate how to write an excellent book and movie comparison essay, I'll use an example that many of us read and saw in high school: To Kill a Mockingbird.


Begin by understanding your assignment

Understanding your task is the first step in writing a great book and movie comparison.

In many circumstances, your lecturer will have given a film and a book to compare. This implies that now is not the time to make an awesome comparison between a Harry Potter novel and its film adaptation just because you're a fan.

Knowing your assignment also implies that if you've been asked to read and watch To Kill a Mockingbird and your professor advises you to pay attention to characterization and symbolism, you should surely do so.

If you know that these components will be examined in your work, you'll have a head start and will know what to look for while you read and watch.


Take careful notes

I understand that annotation might be a hassle, but trust me, you'll thank me later. Taking notes not only helps you grasp the content better but also saves you time while writing your paper because you can readily retrieve information afterward.

Remember that you're writing a compare and contrast essay, so make notes on both the book and the film to assist you to draw similarities.


Taking notes if you do know the required focus of your paper

If you already know what to search for, scribble down everything that appears relevant to the specified topic.

Here are a few points I'd check for if I were taking notes on one or more characters in To Kill a Mockingbird:

  • Physical characteristics

  • Personality characteristics

  • People's reactions to events or other characters

  • What drives characters to do certain actions?

  • Interactions of characters

  • Characters of many types (protagonist, antagonist, round, flat, etc.)

I could also mention any character or section questions that left me perplexed or thinking, "Why in the world would the character do that?"

Though you'll be looking for the same components in both the book and the film, you may wind up with notes about entirely new people or character qualities after viewing the film, especially if the film takes a lot of creative liberties and differs greatly from the book.

Don't be concerned! A very different set of notes will most likely serve you well—it will assist you in making accurate comparisons between the novel and the film.

If I were writing about the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the main points I'd make about the characters would be:

  • There’s a distinct change in the treatment of characters, particularly Jem and Scout’s mother. In the novel, their mother is only mentioned briefly, but in the movie, Jem and Scout have a detailed conversation about their deceased mother.

Because I'm merely taking notes, I may not understand why, how, or even whether something is relevant to the tale. That's OK. Remember that the goal is to begin forming ideas.

In this scenario, I'm curious whether the mention of their mother in this sequence foreshadows future dialogue, if the mother will play a larger role in the film, or if this scene is simply a means for the producers to assist build the tale on film.


Taking notes if you don’t know the focus of your paper before you read the book or watch the movie

If you've been asked to read a book and view a movie but haven't yet received your essay assignment, it's time to jog your memory for the literary terminology you've been discussing in class.

Make a list of literary techniques you've come across, such as topic, character, symbolism, imagery, simile, and metaphor. (Note how this To Live essay examines, among other things, character, story, and tone.)

One thing to keep in mind regarding the note-taking process is that you don't want to become so distracted by taking notes that you forget what you just read or saw. To put it another way, don't take notes on everything. Keep your notes to a few critical devices.

Take notes on items that are the same in both versions, as well as anything that appears noticeably different.

Don't be concerned if you don't use everything in your notes or if a topic that appears crucial at first turns out to be inconsequential. The goal of annotation is to get your thoughts down on paper. You may go over them afterward.


Think about what it all means

After you've completed reading, watching, and taking notes, lay everything away for at least a day or two to reflect on what you've learned.

A list of notes and a slew of random parallels and contrasts are useful, but they don't tell you anything about the relevance of these points (and they don't provide you a topic with for your essay).

Remember that the objective of a comparison essay is not merely to discover elements that are similar or dissimilar.

The purpose is to explain how any additions, omissions, or modifications in the film affect the plot or its interpretation.

In my example of To Kill a Mockingbird, I may have mentioned Mrs. Dubose-related questions. She is a cranky, elderly, prejudiced neighbor of Jem and Scout in the book, and it is eventually discovered that she has a morphine addiction.

She has a considerably lesser part in the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, and the topic of addiction is not addressed.

I may include the following questions in my notes:

  • Is it possible that the producers felt Mrs. Dubose's addiction wasn't serious enough to feature in the film?

  • Does the omission have any effect on the story?

  • Could Mrs. Dubose's character changes affect the storyline, topic, or characterization (or the viewer's understanding of characters)?

Sifting through your notes and odd thoughts and queries may get chaotic, so try several prewriting approaches to keep organized (and to help you develop your ideas even more). (A Venn diagram is very useful when comparing and contrasting similarities and contrasts.)


Determine what is important enough to be included in your comparison essay

It's time to pick what's significant enough to put in your essay after you've arranged your notes and formed some preliminary analysis.

Not every similarity or difference should be included in your article. Include just the most essential aspects that bridge the gap between the book and the film.

This is what I mean.

There is a minimal physical description of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, other than the knowledge that he is roughly 50 years old, tall, and wears glasses.

Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Finch in the 1962 film adaptation, matches this description rather well.

However, it is clear in the film that he parts his hair on the right side (his right, not yours when looking at the image below).

Though there is no explanation of how Atticus wears his hair in the novel, and his hairdo is evident in the film, it is pointless to highlight this in a comparison essay.

It's a little distinction. His hairdo is irrelevant and has no bearing on the subject in any manner.

But suppose a character's hairdo in a novel is detailed in length because it is a part of the character's personality or represents independence, revolt, or strength.

In this situation, if the movie alters the character's haircut, the entire character might change. This would undoubtedly be a good opportunity to consider the significance of a shift in look from text to cinema.

Read A Comparison of the Similarities and Contrasts Between The Princess Bride Film and Novel to learn how one writer evaluates important differences between a novel and its film adaptation.


Find a focus and outline your ideas

You have a strong list of significant items to investigate at this stage, but you still don't have a focus for your article.

To begin, create a strong thesis statement.

Don't write anything like, "The book and movie have numerous parallels but only a few differences."

This tells your readers nothing about the genuine purpose of your article.

Create a thesis statement that is explicit in its comparison and informs readers exactly what you will be addressing.

I may write the following thesis statement in my essay about To Kill a Mockingbird:

  • Though the 1962 film adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird is true to the themes of the original novel, its omission of minor characters leaves the audience with an incomplete understanding of the people and culture of Maycomb.

This thesis statement provides a clear path for the essay and informs readers that the focus will be on character omissions and how they affect the plot. (Would you want to see an example of a successful thesis statement in action?

Check out this essay from our collection. It rates why the author believes the novel The Great Gatsby is superior to the cinema adaptation.)

When you've finished drafting your thesis statement, utilize it to guide you through the following phase of the writing process: outlining.

To back up your points, you'll need three or four essential concepts and instances from the book and movie.

If you want to learn more about outlines, check out This Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Will Help You Beat Writer's Block. To get you started, the post contains a comparison and contrast essay outline template.


Finally … Draft (and Revise and Edit) Your Comparison Essay

I know. It's been a long road, and you feel like you've just finished a marathon. The good news is that it is finally time to start writing your essay.

Follow your plan to help you write an engaging introduction, at least three body paragraphs to support your thesis, and an outstanding conclusion.

Have you pending an essay but aren't sure if you focused sufficiently on analysis or if you incorporated crucial elements in your comparison?

Allow a Help In Homework tutor to write your essay. We've written thousands of essays and can assist you with your book and movie comparison essay as well.



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