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Comparison And Contrast Essay Titles About Change

You’re looking for a great compare and contrast essay topic to kick start your assignment. How can you choose an interesting topic that’s simultaneously narrow yet broad enough to provide you with plenty of great material?

In this blog post, I’ll give you 70 compare and contrast essay topics. I’ve also included links to sample essays for even more inspiration.

With many of these topics, I’ll also give you some basic compare and contrast points to get your ideas going. Note that my points are pretty general.

When you write your compare and contrast essay, you’ll want to dig deep, do your research, and find the most interesting facts.

Let’s get started!

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics: Influential People

It’s time to dust off your powers of creativity and have some fun comparing and contrasting influential people.

People are the definition of unique—no two are exactly alike. The challenge is to find the similarities between two individuals, even when they seem to have nothing in common.

Comparing two people from a similar background is pretty easy. But surprising comparisons—such as those between fictional characters and real-life people or between people from different epochs—can lead to the most interesting essays.

When you successfully make those unlikely connections, readers will be awestruck by your sheer brilliance.

1. Mahatma Gandhi vs. Osama Bin Laden

Mahatma Gandhi and Osama Bin Laden were both extremely influential figures who successfully motivated thousands of people to act on behalf of their visions. Both leaders were killed by their opposition.

Gandhi was a pacifist and a bastion of peace and compassion. He fought for freedom and civil rights. Bin Laden was an extreme militant and a bastion of war and intolerance. He fought for the implementation of extreme religious propaganda.

2. Edward Snowden vs. Julius Caesar

Both Edward Snowden and Julius Caesar played an instrumental role in the inevitable demise of the powerful institutions in which they functioned—Snowden the 21st century United States of America and Caesar the Roman Republic.

Snowden fights for the rights of the people, while Caesar fought against the people in his quest for ultimate power.

Speaking of Romans:The Roman and Han empires make for an interesting comparison. Even though the two nations were separated by time and geography, they experienced striking similarities in technological, political, and economic advances.

3. OJ Simpson vs. Tom Robinson

OJ Simpson and Tom Robinson were both black men who stood accused of violence against white women. Both men were convicted for these crimes. Their convictions left behind a debate as to whether the men were actually brought to justice or rather were victims of racial injustice.

Tom Robinson is a fictional character from the book To Kill a Mockingbird. OJ Simpson is a real-life former NFL player. Tom Robinson was sentenced to death, while OJ Simpson received a prison sentence.

4. Harriet Jacobs vs. Frederick Douglass

Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass were former slaves who became abolitionists. Both Jacobs and Douglass wrote profound autobiographical accounts of their lives as slaves that helped form the argument against slavery.

Harriet Jacobs wrote about the struggles and hardships unique to women in slavery, such as sexual abuse. Frederick Douglass wrote about the struggles and hardships specific to men in slavery, such as emasculation. Douglass went on to become a well-known orator and ran for vice president on the Equal Party Ticket. Jacobs remained an important but relatively unrecognized figure in the abolitionist movement.

 5. Adolf Hitler vs. Joseph Stalin

Both Hitler and Stalin were dictators who achieved a high level of power during WWI and WWII. Both men were behind innumerable human atrocities that killed millions of innocent people.

Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party in Germany. Stalin was the leader of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. Nazism, by definition, is opposed to communism.

6. Maya Angelou vs. Alice Walker

Maya Angelou and Alice Walker are both well-known African American authors. They are credited with contributing important fictional and non-fictional texts on the issues surrounding what it means to be black in the United States. They are both inspirational political and civil rights activists. They are both recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.

In addition to writing, Angelou is also known for her work as an actress and film and television producer. Even though they addressed similar topics in their writings, the two authors wrote in very different styles—each with her own unique voice.

7. Hobbes vs. Locke

Hobbes and Locke were both 17th century English philosophers. They were both interested in exploring political philosophy. Both men, for instance, talked about a state of nature—the idea of man existing without government—and the dangers of such a state (though that’s where their similarities largely ended on the topic).

Hobbes and Locke disagreed on a number of issues. For example, Hobbes believed that man is by nature a social animal, while Locke believed the opposite. Hobbes believed that man has an intrinsic understanding of the difference between right and wrong. Locke believed that man only understands the difference between right and wrong when an authority, such as the law or God, enforces it.

8. Ellen DeGeneres vs. Oprah Winfrey

Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey are both American television personalities who have hosted their own daytime talk shows. Both women have been extremely successful in their careers.

As a comedienne, DeGeneres relies on witty humor and sarcastic criticism to convey her messaging, while the more serious Winfrey relies on inspiration, insights, and aha moments.

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.” – Ellen DeGeneres

 9. Booker T. Washington vs. W.E.B. DuBois

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois were both early 20th century civil rights activists. They were both great leaders of the black community. Both men were also accomplished scholars.

Washington and DuBois disagreed on how to go about achieving racial equality. Washington believed that African Americans should earn equality through self-help and hard work. DuBois, conversely, believed that African Americans needed to become better educated and more politically active.

10. Plato vs. Socrates

Plato and Socrates were both ancient Greek philosophers. They are considered to be the founders of Western philosophy. Both men also founded a school.

Socrates was Plato’s teacher and mentor. Socrates expounded on the wisdom of “I know that I know nothing.” Plato philosophized that the world of ideas was the only constant and that the world of senses is changeable.

11. Adolf Hitler vs. Regina George

Adolf Hitler and Regina George both can be considered dictators in their own right. Both Hitler and George believed that people with blonde hair, blue eyes, and other Aryan features were somehow better than other people.

Adolf Hitler was a real person, dictator, and founder of Nazism in Germany. He was responsible for countless human atrocities, including the murder of over 6 million Jews. Regina George is a fictional character from the 2004 movie Mean Girls. George’s biggest human atrocity is the creation of the Burn Book, a book that libels the other students in school.

 12. Pope Francis vs. Macklemore

Both Pope Francis and Macklemore believe in love, equality, and showing compassion to others. Both are cultural icons. Both men have the ability to reach out to and speak to the masses.

Pope Francis is the leader of the Catholic Church. Macklemore is an American entertainer and hip-hop rapper. Macklemore “wears your grandad’s clothes,” while Pope Francis is old enough to be your grandad.

13. Lin-Manual Miranda vs. William Shakespeare

Both playwrights have changed the face of theater forever. Both playwrights have been criticized for creating historically inaccurate works. Both writers make political and social commentary in their plays.

Shakespeare’s plays were not musicals (though they often contained musical components). Miranda’s most famous play, Hamilton, is a wildly successful musical. Shakespeare lived and wrote in the 16th century, while Miranda is a contemporary playwright.

14. Ronald Reagan vs. Donald Trump

Reagan and Trump were both television and media stars before becoming president. When they were first elected, many people feared that neither one of these men would be strong or effective leaders.

When Reagan took office, interest rates and inflation were high. Trump, on the other hand, entered office with historically low inflation and interest rates. Many people believed Reagan understood the problems with government and believed he was willing to work with citizens to help solve problems. Trump has claimed that he alone will be able to solve problems.

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics: History

15. 19th century living vs. modern living

16. The Roman vs. Han empires

17. Medicine in Ancient Greece vs. medicine in Ancient China

18. Media coverage of past wars vs. media coverage of current wars

19. Russian propaganda during the Cold War vs. Russian propaganda today

20. The Great Depression vs. the Great Recession

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics: Religion

When you set out to compare and contrast world religions, you may feel like you have fallen down a rabbit hole. A student I know once wrote an essay comparing Jesus Christ and Snow White—talk about falling down a rabbit hole!

What’s more, the crossovers between two opposing religions can be surprising.

21. Protestantism vs. Catholicism

Protestants were originally a part of the Catholic Church. So they still believe that Jesus is the savior and that he was crucified and rose from the dead to save humanity.

Among their many differences, Catholics believe in Holy Water, purgatory, and that those wafers you eat at mass are actually, literally the body of Christ. Protestants don’t believe in any of that. (While protestants do take communion, they don’t think the wafers are really a piece of flesh.) Catholics have nuns, priests, and a pope. Protestants don’t.

 22. Theravada vs. Mahayana Buddhism

Both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism follow Dharma, the teachings of Buddha. Both reject the notion of a god or gods (they are nontheistic). Both believe theistic religions are misguided.

Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism have some basic philosophical differences. For example, Theravada Buddhists believe that Buddha died, leaving his teachings behind. Mahayana Buddhists believe that Buddha lives on in various incarnations.

 23. Judaism vs. Christianity

Judaism and Christianity are both monotheistic religions that teach about one almighty God. Both are Abrahamic religions. Both religions teach the Old Testament. Both believe in angels, demons, and spirits as spiritual beings.

Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ was the messiah and that he will return to Earth one day. Christians believe that Jesus died for the sins of humankind. Judaism teaches that Jesus was a teacher and a prophet of God, but not God himself. Judaism also rejects the notion of Jesus’s sacrifice.

24. Religious mindset vs. cult following

Both organized religions and cults seek spiritual enlightenment and follow the teachings of a leader. Both have members with varying levels of practice and extremism.

Cults are more likely to attempt to extort money from their followers. Cults are also more likely than religions to use mind-control to force members into following the teachings of the cult.

25. Jesus Christ vs. Buddha

Jesus Christ and Buddha were both spiritual leaders. Both were teachers and tutors during their time on Earth. Both were miraculously conceived, performed miracles, and were tempted but overcame the devil.

Though Jesus performed several notable miracles, Buddha did not. Buddha believed that he lived his life in search of the truth, while Jesus believed he was the truth.

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics: Countries and Politics

26. Salem Witch Trials vs. McCarthyism

27. Welfare programs in the US vs. welfare programs in Canada

28. Malaysian government vs. Singapore government

29. The Democratic vs. Republican parties in the US

30. Classical liberalism vs. modern liberalism

31. Today’s Democratic liberals vs. today’s Republican conservatives

32. Past presidential elections vs. the most recent presidential election

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics: Education

You can compare and contrast different facets of education until you are as blue as a Smurf. To succeed, you’re better served by pitting two veryspecific elements of education against each other.

The trick is to narrow your angle down to a tight focus while leaving room to write enough compelling points to describe the differences and similarities.

33. Private vs. public universities

Both private and public universities offer a range of academic courses and opportunities. Both allow students to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree.

Private universities are typically more expensive. The College Board reports that for the 2013-2014 school year, private universities cost over $30,000 for one year of tuition, while public universities cost just over $8,000 for in-state and $22,000 for out-of-state tuition. However, private institutions are known to offer better financial aid options.

 34. Small vs. large universities

Both small and large universities can provide students with the opportunities to achieve educational goals. Both offer bachelor’s degrees. (We’re not comparing the size of their parties here…but you could!)

Small universities offer individualized majors, smaller class sizes, and hands-on learning opportunities. Large universities offer state-of-the art research facilities, a wider range of academic programs, and more student clubs and events.

 35. High school vs. college

High school is a stepping stone to attending college. Students need to successfully complete the curriculum of both educational institutions in order to advance in many careers. Both institutions employ instructors to teach coursework. Both require students to refer to textbooks. Both require substantial homework.

High school allows for fewer academic choices. Students are typically limited to a state-designed curriculum that does not take into account a student’s particular strengths and interests. College is a time for students to focus on courses that are specific to their career goals.

36. Online vs. traditional classes

Both online and traditional classes offer education toward a degree program. Students have access to instructors in both class formats. Both involve some form of discussion among classmates. Both often have group projects.

Online classes allow for more flexibility than traditional classes. Students can take an online course at any time from the comfort of their homes. Traditional classes require students to attend class at a specific time and location. The access to instructors is virtual in online classes and in-person in traditional classes. Online classes often have discussion board posts that replace live classroom discussions.

37. Homeschooling vs. public education

Homeschooling and public education provide specific guidelines and learning outcomes for students. Both provide a way for children to experience and learn about the world around them.

Public education provides more opportunities for socialization than homeschooling. Homeschooling can be more demanding on parents as they must be both full-time parent and full-time teacher.

38. Advanced placement (AP) classes vs. honors classes

Both types of classes provide more rigor than traditional high school classes and are geared toward higher achieving students. Both types of classes can strengthen students’ college applications.

Honors courses are essentially high school courses that cover subject matter in greater depth. AP courses are designed to mirror college-level courses. High school honors courses do not allow students to earn college credit. Some high school AP courses allow students to earn college credit.

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics: Film and Literature

Chances are, if you’ve been in English class for any length of time, you’ve been asked to compare and contrast two bodies of literature or other fictional work.

This is your chance to surprise the heck out of your professor (and get a good grade) by making unexpected comparisons.

Following are some topic examples.

39. Twilight  vs. Dracula

Both pieces of literature investigate vampire lore. Both use foreshadowing as a literary device to move the story forward. Both also share three themes: attraction, addiction, and repulsion.

Twilight’s 21st century vampires are sexy and sparkly. Edward Cullen of Twilight is charming and irresistibly dangerous. On the other hand, Dracula is a 19th century blood-thirsty beast that anyone would resist. Bram Stoker’s Dracula had a thick mustache, a large nose, and white hair that “grew scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere.” (Bella, eat your heart out.) Also, there are no werewolves in Dracula.

40. Breaking Bad  vs. Lost

Both Breaking Bad and Lost were hit TV series of the early 21st century. Both shows have won a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy. Both have a character named Walt. Both use flashforward scenes to move the narrative forward.

Breaking Bad investigates the concept of the anti-hero in the character Walter White, who is easy to hate but hard not to cheer on as he descends into a life of crime. Lost investigates the virtues of a classic hero in the likeable character of Jack Shephard.

41. A Rose for Emily vs. The Yellow Wallpaper

Both stories depict women being forced into isolation as a result of “lunacy.” Both stories explore the definition of femininity and the repression of women. Both stories explore dysfunctional relationships between women and men.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” tells the story of a woman’s experience of being shut into a bedroom for a summer. “A Rose for Emily” explores a woman’s experience of shutting herself into a house for 40 years. Both stories investigate these themes in very different ways.

 42.Fahrenheit 451  vs. Red Scarf Girl

Both stories uncover themes of cultural repression. Both stories revolve around the human experience of defying unjust government regulations. Censorship and loss of individual rights are themes in both books.

Fahrenheit 451 is a science fiction novel about how the character Montag defies authority and begins to read the books that he had been ordered to burn. Red Scarf Girl is a true story about a young girl, Ji-li, and her experience of defiance and resistance during China’s cultural revolution.

 43. The Day After Tomorrow  vs. I am Legend

Both movies address the theme of the apocalypse and post-apocalyptic struggles for survival. Both movies touch on deeply rooted fears of humanity and our intrinsic understanding that the human race must eventually meet its end. Both showcase a lone scientific hero who tries to save humanity.

In I Am Legend, the harbinger of the apocalypse is a plague that turns people into killer monsters. In the Day After Tomorrow, an out-of-control storm ushers in an apocalyptic ice age.

44.The Hunger Games  vs. Divergent

Both novels create a dystopian vision of life in the future where society has been divided into factions. Both novels are coming-of-age love stories. Both stories require the female protagonists to partake in violent rituals.

The Hunger Games explores themes of violence and corruption, and the defiance of unjust authority. Divergent explores themes of following your heart despite the odds.

45. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  vs. The Picture of Dorian Gray

Both of these stories feature a protagonist with a dark side that they try to hide from the world. Through such a lens, both stories share the theme of duality.

While Dr. Jekyll swings from being good and bad, Dorian Gray slowly transforms from good to bad as the story progresses. Dr. Jekyll outwardly manifests his dark side as Mr. Hyde, but Dorian keeps his darkness hidden, only acting on his impulses in secret. Dorian’s portrait is the only outward clue of his wrongdoing—the picture reveals his true nature with every wicked act.

 46. 1984  vs. The Hunger Games

Both novels tell the story of a dystopian future where society is oppressed by an all-knowing and watchful authority. Both novels also have segments of the population in extreme poverty.

1984 is commentary on the dangers of a totalitarian state, and it’s set in Europe. The protagonist is an adult man. The Hunger Games is a coming-of-age story with a US-inspired setting. The protagonist is a young woman.

47. Julius Caesar  vs. Macbeth

These two Shakespearean plays have a lot of common. They both revolve around regicide (the murder of a king). Both involve power plays, scandals, and manipulation (but don’t all Shakespeare tragedies?).

Macbeth relies on prophecies and the fulfillment of prophecies as one of its main literary hooks—it’s a story filled with magic and witches. JuliusCaesar is realism-based, focusing on the plausible dramas and tragedies of the Roman Empire.

Bonus read:Don’t Make These 6 Tragic Mistakes in Your Macbeth Essay

48. Beowulf vs. Wolverine

Both have cool, wolfish names. Both are heroes who undertake epic adventures to fight evil. Both experience serious transitions during their journeys.

Beowulf was created in the ancient stew of medieval literature. Wolverine was created in 1974. Beowulf revels in glories, while Wolverine’s good deeds go without reward.

49. Beowulf vs. Odysseus

Beowulf and Odysseus both must battle monsters on their epic journeys. Both heroes share many of the same traits: courage, intelligence, and strength. Both men use all three traits to win their respective battles.

Odysseus makes it safely home and dies in his old age. Beowulf dies after slaying a dragon. Odysseus uses deception while battling enemies, while Beowulf doesn’t play games to gain an advantage against his enemies.

50. 12 Angry Men stage play vs. a film adaptation of 12 Angry Men

Both the play and the movie follow the same basic plot, with jurors attempting to determine the guilt of the accused. In both, the jurors are nameless, known only by their juror numbers.

The scenes are more detailed in the movie compared to the descriptions in the play. The producers took some liberties with adding and/or altering dialogue from the original screenplay.

Bonus info:12 Angry Men was made into a movie in 1957 and in 1997. You might also write a compare and contrast essay about the two film adaptations.

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics: Art

51.Olympia vs. Grande Odalisque

52. Pablo Picasso vs. Salvador Dali

53. King Arthur vs. Zeus

54. Realism vs. Modernism

55. Michelangelo’s Davis vs. Bernini’s David

56. Impressionism vs. Post-Impressionism

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics: Culture and Society

There are infinite possibilities when it comes to choosing from compare and contrast essay topics about culture and society. The trick here is to pick a topic that is very specific and interesting.

Here are some ideas.

57. Korean concept of beauty vs. American concept of beauty

Both Americans and Koreans value thinness as an ideal beauty standard. Both cultures hold ideals of beauty that are impossible for most people to achieve.

Americans focus on beauty standards, such as blonde hair, blue eyes, big breasts (on women), round butts, and tans. Korean beauty focuses on ideal face and eye shapes and pale skin.

 58. Cohabitation vs. marriage

Cohabitation and marriage both involve two people living together and sharing resources. Both also usually mean two people are in a serious relationship.

Marriage involves a legal and binding contract between two people that includes healthcare benefits and tax benefits. Cohabitation does not require a legal contract and does not include such benefits.

 59. Teenagers vs. toddlers

Both teenagers and toddlers are moody, willful, and needy. Both teens and toddlers are usually exploring newly found independence. Both often require supervision in many areas.

Teenagers are more mobile than toddlers and can be far more destructive in their actions. Toddlers are a thousand times more adorable than teenagers. Teenagers have the ability to reason, unlike toddlers, but rarely take advantage of this ability.

60. Traditional Chinese parenting vs. Western parenting

Both Chinese and Western parents want the best for their children. Both educate and discipline their children in ways they feel will best prepare their children for the future.

Compared to Western parents, Chinese parents (particularly “Tiger Moms”) are very strict. They do not allow their children much free time and stress discipline and rigid schedules.

61. Authoritative parenting vs. permissive parenting

In both parenting styles, parents attempt to communicate with their children. In both styles, parents are also likely to encourage creativity and expression in their children.

Authoritative parents are assertive and in control while not being extremely demanding. Permissive parents are more lenient and likely to avoid conflict with their children.

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics: Technology

62. Apple vs. Google smartphones

63. Apple vs. Microsoft

64. Honda vs. Ford

65. Gasoline vs. ethanol vs. biodiesel

66. Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4

67. Tablets vs. textbooks

68. Solar energy vs. wind energy

69. Face-to-face relationships vs. online relationships

70. Safety of cars with seat belts only vs. safety of cars with seat belts and airbags

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve found a topic that will make writing your essay fun and easy. If you need even more ideas, here is a web app that helps you compare just about anything. And here’s a cool website with compare and contrast topics galore.

Once you’ve settled on a topic, I recommend reading these posts to get started with your essay:

Once your own compare and contrast essay is drafted, send it to one of our awesome essay editors for review.

Good luck!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.


If you are a student, you can expect to encounter the compare and contrast essay. Your assignment may overtly ask you to compare and contrast two topics or it may use other language, such as asking you to point out similarities and differences or to explore how two or more different things treat or approach a particular concept or theme.

You may also be asked only to compare or only to contrast.  You may also be asked to compare and contrast and then use that information to support a third concept.   Therefore, before you start your essay or pick your topic, be sure you thoroughly understand your assignment so you can pick the perfect topic.

The foundation of a great compare and contrast essay is the topic.  For a comparison essay, you want to pick two things with significant similarities, but that are not so similar that their similarities are obvious or uninteresting.

For a contrast essay, you want to pick two things that are different, but that are not so fundamentally unalike that you contrasting them becomes difficult.  For an essay that asks you to compare and contrast, you want to choose topics that offer a mix of similarities and differences, but do not be afraid to point out similarities between things that many people consider opposites or to highlight differences between things that many people consider very alike.

In this article, we will give you a number of great comparison/contrast essay topics.  For each topic, we will list three points of comparison and three points of contrast, to give you a good start on your own essay.

Table of Contents


Compare & Contrast Essay Topics

Topics For College Students

Cohabitating and getting married 

Similarities: Living with a partner in a presumed monogamous romantic relationship; sharing responsibility for bills; and seen as a significant step in a relationship.

Differences: Have to divorce in order to separate; financial obligations for your partner’s debts incurred during the relationship; and the presumption that a child born during the marriage belongs to both partners.

Online and traditional classes

Similarities: Curricula are the same in online and traditional classes; students participate in both venues; and students are responsible for managing their own time and handling deadlines.

Differences: Online classes allow greater flexibility; online forums encourage student participation; and online classes lack the friendship-building properties of traditional classes.

Marijuana and alcohol

Similarities: Safe for most people if used in moderation; some medical benefits with moderate usage; and negative cardiovascular impact from heavy usage.

Differences: Marijuana is illegal in most states and federal drug policy means it remains uncertain whether state efforts to legalize marijuana will be valid; although possible it is exceedingly difficult to have a lethal overdose on marijuana while many people overdose on alcohol; and alcohol is more likely to interact with other drugs than marijuana.

Graduate school and starting work immediately after college

Similarities: Both graduate school and starting career-specific work after college require degrees; graduate school and starting work both require more initiative than undergraduate work; and transition from student housing situations like dorms or fraternity/sorority houses to more independent living scenarios.

Differences: Although they may be paid, graduate students make less money than people who start their careers; people who attend graduate school may increase lifelong learning potential; and graduate students do not have the same flexibility in locations or programs as those entering the workforce.

United States and North Korea

Similarities: Both have Constitutions; both have three-branch governments consisting of executive, judicial, and legislative branches; and both have universal suffrage

Differences: The U.S. is a federalist republic, while North Korea is a communist dictatorship; the United States is substantially larger than North Korea; and the U.S. has guaranteed freedom for the press while North Korea has a limited press.

Domestic terrorists and radical Islamic terrorists

Similarities: Use violence and fear to try to effectuate political change; express fundamentalist religious beliefs; and take a regressive view of women in society.

Differences: Radical Islamic terrorists come from an Islamic religious background while domestic terrorists have come from a Christian background; domestic terrorists tend to have links to white nationalist groups; and domestic terrorists have committed far more attacks on U.S. soil than radical Islamic terrorists.

Murder and suicide

Similarities: Both involve killing a person; both are difficult for survivors; and the rates of both are increased by access to weapons.

Difference: Suicide results in the death of the actor, while murder results in the death of a victim; murder is a crime but it is rare for anyone to face criminal charges for a suicide; suicide is almost always rooted in mental illness but murder has a number of different causes.

Edward Snowden and Julian Assange

Similarities: They were both responsible for helping spread confidential information; both fled to avoid prosecution; both used Wikileaks to spread their information.

Differences: Snowden was a source for confidential information, while Assange was a publisher; Assange is accused of sex crimes; and Snowden is in Russia.

Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly

Similarities: Both are elderly men with a long career in show business; both had a large fan base; and both have a number of accusations of sexual misconduct.

Differences: Public outcry against Cosby was much more vigorous than outcry against O’Reilly; Cosby is accused of sexual assault while O’Reilly is accused of sexual harassment; and O’Reilly lost custody of his children due to allegations of domestic violence.

Tomi Lahren and Rachel Maddow

Similarities: Both are newscasters; both are popular with a political base; both are pro-choice.

Differences: Lahren is very right wing while Maddow is a left-leaning moderate; Maddow has a doctorate in Politics from Oxford while Lahren holds a bachelor degree from the University of Nevada; Lahren is supportive of the alt. right while Maddow is critical of the alt-right.

Physical abuse and emotional abuse

Similarities: Both physical and emotional abuse can have lifelong consequences; children who witness both types of abuse experience significant troubles; both are cyclical in nature.

Differences: Physical abuse is easier to recognize than emotional abuse; emotional abuse takes longer to treat than most physical abuse; physical abuse can be criminally prosecuted while emotional abuse of adults usually cannot.

Being compulsive and being conscientious

Similarities: Both compulsive and conscientious people want to finish things to a particular standard; compulsive and conscientious people are more likely to finish tasks; both refer to a desire to do things thoroughly.

Differences: Compulsiveness is about meeting one’s own standards while conscientiousness is about meeting others standards; compulsive people may experience discomfort or anxiety if unable to complete a task; and compulsive behavior may actually prevent a person from finishing a task.

Love and lust

Similarities: Love and lust both play a role in the creation and maintenance of families; romantic love and lust both begin around puberty; and both can make you feel very happy to see the object of your desire.

Differences: Love is an intense feeling of affection and care, while lust refers to sexual desire; love is signified by mutual commitment; love is a foundation for a long-term relationship while lust is a foundation for a short-term relationship.

Topics for High School Students

Small and large universities

Similarities: Curricula are similar at large and small universities; admission requirements are similar at both types of universities; and both offer a variety of extracurricular activities for students.

Differences: Class sizes at small universities are usually smaller than at large universities; large universities are better able to attract the best and brightest professors in their fields; and students have a greater opportunity to stand out at small universities.

Being single and being in a relationship

Similarities: Relationship status can impact self-esteem; some people who are in the other relationship status will be jealous of your status; and you will sometimes experience loneliness, regardless of your relationship statute.

Differences: Being in a relationship involves cooperation; being single

Star Wars and Star Trek

Similarities: Both are huge science fiction franchises; both have large fanbases; both are set in space.

Differences: Star Wars depicts a broad good versus evil story while Star Trek does not have a single “bad guy”; Star Wars incorporates fantasy elements as well as sci-fi elements; Star Trek began as a successful television franchise.

Having children as a teen and having children late-in-life

Similarities: Both young parents and older parents are parents; children and parents change and grow over a child’s lifetime; and both younger and older parents make mistakes.

Differences: Young parents tend to have more energy for children; older parents tend to have better financial resources; and older parents may rely more on their children as they enter old-age.

Slavery and indentured servitude

Similarities: Both involved unpaid work for a master; both practices involved transport from one country to another; both systems failed to protect people.

Differences: Indentured servants intentionally entered into those relationships; the children of slaves were born into slavery; and slavery evolved into a race-based system.

Buying a car and leasing a car

Similarities: You are securing the use of a car; your creditworthiness impacts the offers available to you; you have to put money down to purchase or lease.

Differences: You can buy a used car but opportunities to lease a used car are limited; you do not own a car at the end of a lease; you have mileage limits for a lease.

Macklemore and Eminem 

Similarities: Both are white artists who have been accused of appropriating black cultures; both are musicians; and both are Grammy winners.

Differences: Eminem is 11 years older than Macklemore; Eminem has a history of misogynist lyrics; and Macklemore is known for his pro LGTQB stance.

Introverts and extraverts

Similarities: Both describe ways that people get their emotional energy; introverts and extraverts both need alone time sometimes; and introverts and extraverts both enjoy some social interactions.

Differences: Introverts recharge their energy through alone time; extraverts recharge their energy through social interactions; and society has traditionally been biased in favor of extraverts.

William Shakespeare and Stephen King

Similarities: Both were extremely popular authors; both were extremely prolific writers; and both incorporated the supernatural in their story lines.

Differences: William Shakespeare wrote in Elizabethan England while Shakespeare writes in the modern United States; there is controversy about whether Shakespeare wrote all the works attributed to him but no controversy over King being the author of his works; and Shakespeare wrote plays and poems while King primarily writes prose.

Children of divorced parents and children of married parents:

Similarities: Both types of children have two biological parents; both types of children may have siblings; both types of children may have complicated family situations.

Differences: Children of divorced parents are more likely to experience financial difficulties; children of divorced parents may have stepparents and stepsiblings; and children of divorced parents may have limited or no access to one biological parent.

Humans and chimpanzees

Similarities: Both evolved from a common ancestor; both use tools; and neither naturally reproduces with other great apes.

Differences: Humans are less hairy than chimpanzees; humans have 46 chromosomes while chimpanzees have 48; the human brain capacity is three to four times larger than chimpanzee brain capacity.

E.L. James and J.K. Rowling

Similarities: Both are female authors; both are British; and both have written best-selling series.

Differences: James writes erotica geared towards adults while Rowling writes young adult fiction; Rowling maintains a strong Twitter presence; and Rowling’s work has been praised as strongly feminist while James’ work has faced criticism as being misogynistic.

Body piercing and tattoos

Similarities: Both are forms of body modification; both use needles; and both face some lingering social stigmas.

Differences: Body piercing is removable while tattoos are permanent; most areas allow minors to get body piercings with adult permission but require those receiving tattoos to be adults; and some body piercings may be done at accessory shops while tattoos are not done in that environment.

Topics for Middle School Students

Dress code and school uniforms

Similarities: Both restrict what students can wear at school; both have pros and cons; and both focus on modest clothing.

Differences: School uniforms eliminate some of the competition that comes with clothing and brands; dress code enforcement tends to be gender-biased; and dress codes allow greater levels of expression.

Divergent and The Hunger Games

Similarities: Both are dystopian literature; both feature young female protagonists; and both were the starts of successful book and movie franchises.

Differences: In Divergent, people are separated into factions according to ability while people are separated into geographic districts in The Hunger Games; Tris is a soldier but Katniss is a rebellion leader; and Katniss experiences a love triangle while Tris’ forms romantic attachment to one person.

Texting and talking on the phone

Similarities: Both are forms of communication; both can be done from cell phones and other communications devices; and both can include two or more people in the conversation.

Differences: Talking on the phone uses voice communication; texting can be done in a greater variety of circumstances; and talking on the phone is a real-time communication while texting does not have to be real-time.

Books and movies

Similarities: Both can portray a range of genres; both allow the audience to experience a different time, place, or setting; and both can be very profitable.

Differences: Books allow can be written from a first-person perspective that is difficult in movies; movies are usually shorter than books; and movies can portray a scene in an instant while a book require readers to use their imagination.

Anorexia and bulimia

Similarities: Both are eating disorders; both stem from the sufferer’s perception that he or she is overweight; and both can be successfully treated if caught in time.

Differences: Anorexics use food restriction and exercise to limit calories; bulimics use vomiting or the use of diuretics to eliminate calories that have been consumed; a medical diagnosis of anorexia requires the sufferer to be 15% below ideal body weight.

Christianity and Islam

Similarities: Both are Abrahamic religions; both believe in Jesus; both are one of the world’s major religions.

Differences: Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah, while Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet; Muslims believe in the prophet Muhammed; and Christians trace their religious ties to Abraham through Isaac while Muslims traces them through Ishmael.

Bullying and teasing

Similarities: Both may involve calling names; both have the potential to be harmful; and how the recipient interprets behavior helps define the behavior.

Differences: Teasing stops when the victim asks for it to stop; bullying is meant to hurt; bullying can have lasting negative repercussions.

Creationism and evolution

Similarities: Both theories attempt to explain the origins of man; both theories account for the origins of animals; and both theories use an appeal to authority to support them.

Differences: Evolution uses science to support it; creationism uses religion to support it; there is no scientific support for theories of young-Earth creationism.

Abstinence only sex-education and science-based sex-education

Similarities: Both teach fundamentals of human reproduction; both are targeted towards children before they begin having sex; and both have some success.

Differences: Abstinence-only sex education results in teens delaying the average age of first sexual experience; science-based sex education results in lower teen pregnancy rates; science-based sex education teaches STD prevention

Being an only child and having siblings

Similarities: Only children and children with siblings form important relationships with peers, both have parents, and both have to learn compromise.

Differences: Children with siblings have to share parental affection; only children tend to have greater access to resources; and only children tend to be more successful.

Parents and grandparents

Similarities: Both are ancestors; both have an interest in your well-being; and both engage in discipline and love.

Differences: Usually parents raise you; grandparents have less authority than parents; and parents have greater responsibility and rights than grandparents.

Unicorns and dragons

Similarities: Both are mythical animals; both are described in the Bible; and both have real-life animals that may have inspired stories of them.

Differences: Unicorns are described as mammals; dragons are described as reptilian; and dragons are obsessed with treasure.

Having a stay-at-home parent and having two parents who work outside of the home

Similarities: Parents are focused on the well-being of their family; parents have limited free time; and parents have to coordinate their activities with children’s activities.

Differences: Stay-at-home parent households have greater flexibility; households with two working parents tend to have greater financial resources; and households with a stay-at-home parent may have more rigid gender roles.

Funny Topics

Harry Potter and Harry Dresden

Similarities: Both are wizards, both are named Harry, and both are orphans.

Differences: Harry Potter is a child and Harry Dresden is an adult at the beginning of their series; Potter fights a single bad guy and his minions while Dresden has multiple, distinct enemies; and Dresden does stupid things for women.

Camping and being homeless

Similarities: Both involve lack of structures; both can make it difficult to find food; and both involve limited access to showers and bathroom facilities.

Differences: Camping is intentional while homelessness is usually not intentional; camping is temporary and within the control of the camper; campers are usually better prepared for outdoor living than the homeless.

Werewolves and vampires

Similarities: Both are mythical monsters; both are based in real-life circumstances that led people to believe in their existence; and both continue to be popular with modern-day audiences.

Differences: Vampires are the living dead; werewolves are lycanthropes who change from human to wolf; and vampires are immortal while werewolves are not.

Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny

Similarities: Both are cartoons that iconized a brand; both are male; and both are brave.

Differences: Bugs Bunny is more sarcastic than Mickey Mouse; Mickey Mouse represents Disney; and Bugs Bunny represents Warner Brothers.

Sandpaper and toilet paper

Similarities: Both are types of paper with specific jobs; both comes in varying levels of coarseness; and both wear out after use.

Differences: Sand paper is used to sand surfaces; toilet paper is used for hygiene; and toilet paper is single-use while sand paper can be reused until worn.

Cartoon and live-actionBeauty and the Beast

Similarities: Both feature the same core creatures; both show Gaston as a jerk; and both portray Belle as being earnest and loving.

Differences: In the live action movie Gaston attempts to kill Maurice; the beast is less menacing in the live-action version; and the live action version more thoroughly explores the relationship between the villagers and the castle.

Polyamory and infidelity

Similarities: Both involve additional partner(s) outside of a romantic duo; neither are fully accepted by society; and both can add additional complications to a primary romantic relationship.

Differences: Polyamory involves open communication while infidelity generally involves deception; polyamory is an agreed-scenario; and polyamory can be the foundation for long-term relationships.

New Orleans and Las Vegas

Similarities: Both are cities with party reputations; both cities have streets known for their nightlife; and both cities are top travel destinations.

Differences: New Orleans is more historic than Las Vegas; Las Vegas has more gambling opportunities than New Orleans; and while both cities are very hot in the summertime New Orleans is far more humid.

Dogs and Cats

Similarities: They are both mammals; both have been domesticated by humans; and both are kept as pets.
Differences: Dogs are easier to train than cats; cats are self-cleaning; and dogs tend to be more social.

Batman and Superman

Similarities: Both started in comic books; both have had TV shows; and both have been featured in several movies.

Differences: Superman is an alien while Batman is human; Batman is really wealthy; and Batman tends to be darker and more brooding than Superman.

Madonna and Lady Gaga

Similarities: Both are women pop singers; both are known for outrageous clothing choices; both are outspoken feminists.

Differences: Lady Gaga is an accomplished musician; Madonna has acted in several films; and their core fan bases come from different age groups.

Science fiction and fantasy

Similarities: They are both fiction genres, both are set outside of the reality of the modern world; and both often explore the greater conflict between good and evil.

Differences: Science fiction deals with scenarios that are possible or could be possible because of science; fantasy deals with magical elements that are not possible even with scientific advances; and fantasy is a much older genre than science fiction.

Comic books and graphic novels

Similarities: Both can be fiction or non-fiction; both use words and images to tell a story; and both tend to use third-person perspectives.

Differences: Graphic novels are longer and more complex than comic books; comic books use multiple issues for each story arc; and graphic novels predate comic books.


As a student, you are almost certain to encounter a compare and contrast essay assignment.  Whether you are asked to tackle a serious topic or a silly one, we hope that our comprehensive list of compare and contrast essay topics has helped you choose one and given you a great start on your essay!

You can also take a look at a compare and contrast essay example, to help you better understand how your completed paper should look.

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