Sorry to dump this stuff on you, /lit/.
I'm a fairly /lit/erate person, I'm not an idiot when it comes to writing (I do freelance for a paper, actually) and at my uni we're having a big assignment soon. I have to compare Romeo and Juliet to To Kill A Mockingbird by how the two contrast in the themes of fear and hope or love and desperation. Romeo and Juliet is easy, but TKAM? Literally nothing happens!
TL;DR I need some ideas for a comparative essay, help me, I beg of you.
Just mention how both TKAM and R&J present situations concerning hope in the face of the inevitable. TKAM has Tom Robinson, the black man accused of rape during a time when there was an enormous stigma against black people, with zero hope of ever being proclaimed innocent, while Romeo and Juliet fall in love and try to keep their affair going despite the mounting angers of both families. Both eventually climax in a permanent end, a death (of Robinson and Romeo/Juliet) voiding the entire story, ending the hope.
You should definitely tackle this in parts. Unless you have a firm grasp of each work, which you clearly don't, you shouldn't try to discuss them both at once; while this method does result in a better paper when done well, when done poorly it weakens you overall. Now, start with a thesis about RnJ that is fairly broad, but able to be narrowed down. You don't want to make some universal claim, like "Romeo and Juliet presents a model of true love," or, "Romeo and Juliet demonstrates the fear of death;" everyone knows this. Likewise, don't make it speculative unless you believe you can a. prove your point and b. prove it significantly alters our reading of a key scene. I'm talking about theses like "it was all a dream," or, "they get reincarnated." stuff like this is schlock, mostly. There are exceptions; you won't be one.
Now, once you have this thesis, which by the way should round out your introductory paragraph (and don't think it has to be the last sentence, or even be contained to a single sentence), all you have to do is hunt down the relevant passages to build out your point. Generally you'll want to do this paragraph by paragraph. Try and break down your claim into three parts, and find a passage that demonstrates each part. Then you can easily block out this part of the essay as such:
Body Paragraph 1:
-Quotation from passage
-Interpretative analysis of the passage, making sure to explicitly like your topic sentence's claim to the verbiage of the quote. Close read here.
-transition into next paragraph
etc for the rest of your argument. Now that you've really fleshed out your reading of RnJ, only then should you go back and analyze one or two (preferably two) passages from TKAM. Follow the same methodology, but include a bit where you tie it back into your reading of RnJ, whether to highlight concordance or indicate a contrast. In either case, make sure it's clear how the relationship enhances or sharpens our reading of each work.
After this, go back and edit your thesis to include your work with TKAM. your overall claim should be about the relationship of the one work to other over the issue of a particular theme. use your analyses to guide you in this direction.
You can conclude however you like—however seems appropriate. If you go back and find the significance piece is lacking, the conclusion is a good place to drop that in. As always, make sure at this point that your topic sentences are all supported by the passages and subsequent analyses, and that your thesis is likewise propped up by those same topic sentences. this tree-like model is a good way to make sure your paper is coherent in its overall structure.
make sure everything feeds up the tree.
the important thing is to trust yourself as a reader.
Hope, despite things being against the status quo
Fear, and maybe lack thereof due to the hope being far to much given the circumstances. Not fearing the consequences, doing whay you think is right on a personal level, not letting others or society influence you