Study resource – VCE English comparative essay table

In VCE English, students are required to write an essay comparing and contrasting two texts. Known as a “comparative essay”, this involves discussing the similarities and differences between the two assigned texts in areas such as themes, characters, setting, construction, and so on.

Writing comparative essays can be challenging, but it can be made easier with a few simple tools.

One way to set yourself up for success is to use tables like the ones below. These tables can help you revise for your comparative essay in two important ways.

Firstly, the process of filling out the tables structures your revision session in such a way that forces you to spend your time on the most important content. This helps ensure you’re revising smarter, not harder.

Secondly, once these tables are filled out, they’re a great resource to keep coming back to when studying for a SAC or the final exam. No more pausing to flick through hundreds of pages to find the exact passage you need – just glance at your table!

VCE English comparative text analysis table

For a printable PDF of this study resource, please click here: VCE English Comparative Essay Table .

Central character study


First character (1st text)


Second character (2nd text)

Character basics  


Deeper identity: What is the character like? What motivates them?  



Character flaws: What causes the character to fail, face hardship, or be challenged?  




Character strengths: What are the particular skills or strengths of the character?  




Character change: What changes the character & why?  




Inner challenges: What inner obstacles does the character face?  




Character relationships: Who is important to this character & why?  




Character happiness and freedom: When is the character happy and free (if at all)?  





Character message: What does the character tell us about life or the world?  





World of texts


Insert first text here


Insert second text here

How is the setting introduced?  




What is the world of the text and setting like, in a physical and symbolic sense?
How is society structured in this world?  


What literary or film techniques does the author use to create the world? What sort of impact does this have?  





What is the mood/atmosphere of the world of the text? How does the author create this mood/atmosphere?  




How do the central characters fit into their society?  




Is there a special place/refuge/sanctuary for the central characters? Explain  




Who is in control of the world? How does this control manifest?  



Is there a special setting for the climax? What is this setting? What is the significance of this setting? How does this setting impact the reader?  







Form & construction of text



First text. Provide an example and effect



Second text. Provide example and effect

Background and historical context  



Foreshadowing and use of portents  



Use of framing device  



Use of motifs  




Use of innovation in language, including breaking with conventions  




Use of atmospheric conditions, setting.  




Focus on key moment of choice (e.g. crisis, climax, formative moment, dilemma)  



Your choice  


Your choice  


Your choice  



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