Compare and Contrast Essay Example

Published: 2017-10-20 09:24:25
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How to start a compare and contrast essay

Writing is a significant practice among many individuals, if not all. Different people understand writing and use it for various reasons. Writing is an exercise that one learns and, therefore, frequently uses for different reasons. However, the strategy of writing that an individual adopts may differ with that of other people. One of the significant uses of writing is to enhance understanding of a written or audiovisual material. Moreover, writing may be used as a way of narrowing down the major points in a text or audio material. A significant number of people have contributed their knowledge and experience about writing. Mortimer J. Adler, an American Philosopher, author, and educator wrote about writing in his article titled ‘How to Mark a Book.’ Peter Elbow, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst also contributed knowledge about writing in his article dubbed ‘Freewriting.’ The two articles are similar in various components and are also different in others. Therefore, this essay compares and contrasts Mortimer’s How to mark a book and Peter’s Freewriting, by revealing the various differences and similarities in the two.

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In his essay, Mortimer Adler emphasizes o the significance of not only reading through a text or a book, but also writing amid the lines. The renowned American philosopher claims that writing as one reads a book is an efficient strategy to enhance understandability and grasp of major points. Mortimer clarifies that there are three types of readers; those that own books but do not take time to look at the content, those that own and read books infrequently whilemaintaining the cleanliness of the paper, and those that own, read, and mark the books (Adler 2). ‘Owning’ a book, according to the famous philosopher is the scenario where a person interacts with its content and marks it to enhance his or her understanding of the content and retains it in the mind (Adler, 2).

In his article, Peter Elbow, emphasizes on the importance of freewriting. The Massachusetts University professor defines freewriting as the practice of writing and not stopping for anything. Writing without stopping to think or wonder about the spelling, what to write about, or what one is doing (Elbow 2). Peter states that practicing freewriting for approximately 10 minutes three times a week can enhance ones writing ability. The professor claims that hesitating to think about what to write or how to spell a word does not only make writing hard, but also dead. Therefore, Peter emphasizes on practicing to write without any obstructions in the mind (Elbow 3).

Compare and contrast essay template


Based on the two articles, the most noticeable similarity is that they both emphasize on the importance of writing. Both articles inform the reader about the significance of writing to enhance a person’s attention on the major ideas presented in a book or what one is writing about. Although Mortimer focuses on the importance of marking a book while reading through the content and Peter focuses on the significance of freewriting, the two have a common goal of revealing how writing enhances attention. According to Mortimer, writing keeps one awake (Adler 3). Mortimer argues that marking through the text helps a person grasp the major points and enables a person to create a long-term understanding of the content. Likewise, Peter argues that practicing freewriting enhances a person’s attention to focus on the major ideas without being distracted by insignificant factors such as editing and stopping to think about what to write. Therefore, a similarity exist between Mortimer’s article and Peter’s.

Another similarity between the two articles is that they both argue that writing should not be interrupted. Both authors argue that editing and drafting of a better copy should come after first making senseless ideas and words, then later settling to grasp the major points or ideas. For instance, Mortimer states that ‘…. After I have finished reading the book and making my personal index on the back end-papers, I turn to the front and try to outline the book, not page by page or point by point (I've already done that at the back), but as an integrated structure, with a basic unity and an order of parts. This outline is, to me, the measure of my understanding of the work’(Adler 3).Similarly, Peter states that ‘… Editing, in itself, is not the problem. Editing is usually necessary if we want to end up with something satisfactory. The problem is that editing goes on at the same time as producing. . . .’ (Elbow 5)These statements by the two writers reveal that they both agree the initial writing should not be obstructed by practices such as editing. They argue that editing and drafting of a material that makes sense should come after writing different points, some of which may be absurd.

Furthermore, a similarity exists where both articles rejects the influence of third party individuals or substances to a writer. Both Mortimer and Peter claims that a writer should never be worried about the suggestions or response of his or her friends concerning his or her writing practice. Mortimer states that one should never worry that by marking through his or her book he would not lend it to friends (Adler 4). Similarly, Peter argues that no matter the ridicule one receives from the friends about his or her writing practice, one should never give up, because ultimately the results would be pleasing (Elbow 3). Therefore, the two articles have this element in common.


Although some elements in Mortimer’s and Peter’s articles are similar, there are significant differences in the two. One of the major differences is the basic one where they differ in context. Mortimer emphasizes on marking a book or writing on a pad while reading to enhance an understanding of the content. On the other hand, Peter stresses on writing continuously without stopping to enhance the writing ability and skills (Elbow 1). Therefore, the two differ because Mortimer’s is written to emphasize about writing while reading and Peter’s emphasizes on the importance of freewriting to enhance writing skills.

Another significance difference is that of style. In his article, the philosopher uses incorporates his style of writing. He sometimes narrates about his style of writing while reading to enhance the reader’s understanding by using the word ‘I’. Additionally, he incorporates an example of a style that specific people use. For instance, he narrates about President Hutchins’, of the University of Chicago, style of marking the book (Adler 3). In contrast, Peter explains about freewriting without inclusion of specific people as examples or using his own life. Therefore, the two articles contrasts in style.

Moreover, a contrast exists between the two articles where Peter posits that you should never stop writing even if you do not have anything to write. Mortimer contrasts this statement when he gives an example of University of Chicago President, Hutchins, who quits writing whenever he feels that he is not making intelligent notes. Therefore, Peter emphasizes that one should never stop writing even when he or she feels that what he or she is doing is a waste of time but Mortimer, in his article, allows it. Therefore, there exists a difference in ideas between Mortimer’s and Peter’s article.

In conclusion, Mortimer’s article, How to Mark a Book and Peter’s Freewriting have both similarities and differences. The major similarity is that they both emphasize on the importance of writing. Additionally, they both reject or discourage interruption of writing due to factors such as editing. Moreover, the other similarity is that they discourage the influence of third party individuals such as friends while practicing writing. The major differences arise from the articles’ context, style, and ideas. Based on the two articles it is, therefore, essential to question ourselves about our writing abilities and how we utilize writing.

Works Cited

Adler, Mortimer Jerome. How to Mark a Book. New York: Touchstone, 1972. Print.

Elbow, Peter. Freewriting. New York: Oxford Publishing, 1973. Print.

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