Transcript of Writing a conclusion paragraph for a persuasive essay
Persuasive Essay The Conclusion Paragraph The First Part: The Second Part: The Third Part: Sample Essay There are three parts: Restate the thesis Restate your two reasons Call to Action Now Write It! Conclusion Paragraph 1. Restate the thesis 2. Restate your two reasons 3. Write a call to action 1. You are not going to restate the whole thesis. Just restate your position! 2. Remember: You have already proven that you are right. You can point that out in the restatement. Position: All middle school students are entitled to have recess. Restatement: Obviously, all middle school students deserve to have a recess every school day. 1. You need to write two separate sentences. 2. Don't forget to use transitions! Your two reasons: burn energy; time for snacks and bathroom breaks Restatement of reasons:
One reason why recess is important is because kids need to have time to burn their extra energy between classes. Another reason is that kids really could use that time to eat a quick snack and use the restroom. Some transitions that you can use:
One reason... Another reason...
To begin with... In addition...
First... Finally... 1. This is where you TELL your audience WHAT to DO about your argument! 2. Yes, you are going to sound like you are bossing them around. 4. After you tell them that you are going to explain how to take action, make a couple of suggestions as to what they can do to make a change, based on your argument. For example:
Go to your principal and demand recess. Explain the importance of recess to the school board, so that they make sure that all middle schools get recess. 3. Start by telling them that they need to do something to help, now that you have so brilliantly won your argument. It looks like this:
Now that you understand how important recess is to middle school students, it is time for you to help. By doing this, you are telling them that you are right, and that they need to help you to take action on your argument. 5. End with an enthusiastic sentence of encouragement. Like this:
Let's work together to get every middle school student the recess they deserve! 1. Restate thesis 2. Restate reasons in two sentences 3. Write a call to action:
Tell them to take action
Tell them what to do in two sentences
End the essay with an enthusiastic sentence
So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view, to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. And the impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they've finished the essay.
The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.
To establish a sense of closure, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude by linking the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word or phrase you used at the beginning.
- Conclude with a sentence composed mainly of one-syllable words. Simple language can help create an effect of understated drama.
- Conclude with a sentence that's compound or parallel in structure; such sentences can establish a sense of balance or order that may feel just right at the end of a complex discussion.
To close the discussion without closing it off, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude with a quotation from or reference to a primary or secondary source, one that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective. A quotation from, say, the novel or poem you're writing about can add texture and specificity to your discussion; a critic or scholar can help confirm or complicate your final point. For example, you might conclude an essay on the idea of home in James Joyce's short story collection, Dubliners, with information about Joyce's own complex feelings towards Dublin, his home. Or you might end with a biographer's statement about Joyce's attitude toward Dublin, which could illuminate his characters' responses to the city. Just be cautious, especially about using secondary material: make sure that you get the last word.
- Conclude by setting your discussion into a different, perhaps larger, context. For example, you might end an essay on nineteenth-century muckraking journalism by linking it to a current news magazine program like 60 Minutes.
- Conclude by redefining one of the key terms of your argument. For example, an essay on Marx's treatment of the conflict between wage labor and capital might begin with Marx's claim that the "capitalist economy is . . . a gigantic enterprise ofdehumanization"; the essay might end by suggesting that Marxist analysis is itself dehumanizing because it construes everything in economic -- rather than moral or ethical-- terms.
- Conclude by considering the implications of your argument (or analysis or discussion). What does your argument imply, or involve, or suggest? For example, an essay on the novel Ambiguous Adventure, by the Senegalese writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane, might open with the idea that the protagonist's development suggests Kane's belief in the need to integrate Western materialism and Sufi spirituality in modern Senegal. The conclusion might make the new but related point that the novel on the whole suggests that such an integration is (or isn't) possible.
Finally, some advice on how not to end an essay:
- Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
- Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
- Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."
Copyright 1998, Pat Bellanca, for the Writing Center at Harvard University