Essay 4: Comparative Analysis

Essay #4: comparative analysis of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project

Due: Thursday, November 14th (submit to Dropbox + a folder with one printed copy of final draft, peer reviews, and pre-drafts)

*If you do not turn in a final draft (a printed copy–complete with Cover Letter, pre-drafts, and peer review–and electronic copy through Dropbox) by the start of class the day it is due, you will receive no credit for the entire assignment. There are no extensions.

Late work will not be accepted and will receive no credit. If you do not turn in a complete, thoughtful first draft on time, you also forfeit your right to any feedback on your essay from me (either written feedback or conferencing with me during my office hours) and your peers (for peer review).


  • Pre-Draft 1: Happiness Archive #3 (reading response to The Secret), due Tu 10/1
  • Pre-Draft 2: Happiness Archive #3 (class discussion: commenting on my post onThe Secret), due Th 10/3 to M 10/7
  • Pre-Draft #3: Happiness Archive #5 (reading response to The Happiness Project), due Tu 10/22
  • Pre-Draft #4: comparison/contrast of Byrne and Rubin’s views on “money” (bring writing to class on Th 10/24)
  • Pre-Draft #5: in-class brainstorming, outlining, finding evidence (in-class on Tu 10/29)
  • Pre-Draft #6 : Essay 4 First Draft, due Tu 11/5
  • Peer Review: We will conduct peer review in class on Th 11/7

Grading: Essay #4 is worth 10% of your overall course grade.

*Since this is a close reading of the two texts, you should not consult outside sources, so there really should not be an issue with plagiarism, but just a reminder: Plagiarism, in all forms, will not be tolerated. Any essay that plagiarizes will automatically fail.

*Refer to City Tech’s Policy on Academic Integrity on the syllabus for more specific details on plagiarism.

Writing Task, Purpose, & Structure
In class and on OpenLab you have been using close reading to questions and ideas about excerpts from Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and you’ve already written a formal essay (#3) on The Secret. For this next essay, you will build on this work, and write a 5-6 page thesis-driven comparative analysis essay on these two texts. Your essay should present a thesis that grows out of your analysis of these two texts and uses subsequent claims/evidence from the texts to explore and support this argument.

This essay extends the work you did for Essay #3: while that essay required you to provide a close reading of one text, Essay #4 asks you to explore two texts in conversation with each other. The Happiness Project and The Secret may disagree about the nature of happiness or the path towards attaining it, but they hold as a core assumption/value that increased happiness is both desirable and possible.

While you should certainly take stock of similarities and differences between the texts you choose, this is only a first (pre-draft) step. Your essay should not only note key similarities and/or differences but also (and this is the crucial part!) discuss the significance of these similarities and/or differences.  Putting two texts in dialogue with each other allows you to create a more nuanced argument about the nature of (or path towards, or problems with, etc.) happiness. Make sure also to explore  the logos, ethos, and pathos of each text.

This essay should be written in the third person, and you should should not consult outside sources: this essay builds from your close reading and comparative analysis of the excerpts of The Secret and The Happiness Project that we read together. As always, choose specific quotes and examples from the text that are relevant to your claims and use them in the service of supporting these ideas. Remember that each quote/example should be introduced, explained/analyzed, relevant, and cited (using MLA style for in-text citations). You should also provide a Works Cited page for the two texts.

Again, this essay extends the thinking/writing you have already done on OpenLab and in class, and in Essay #3. Unlike your blog posts, however, this essay should be organized around a clearly stated thesis that tells your reader the subject and thesis of your essay. All of your claims need to be logically related to your thesis and to one another. There is a much greater emphasis on analysis and structure in this essay than in your blog posts. You should also re-think your material from Essay #3, as it is now used not to make a single point but in comparison with another text. You can use material/ideas from your previous writing (blogs, Essay #3) but it must be sufficiently revised for the context of this essay (don’t just cut/paste prior work into Essay #4).

You must provide a Cover Letter (one page, single-spaced) for each draft of your Essay.

*Please make sure to follow the Essay Formatting and Guidelines, and the helpful tips/strategies provided for Essay #3. Also, for this essay, you should consult the UNC Writing Center’s handout on Compare/Contrast Essays.