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
Examples of Conclusion Paragraphs for an Argumentative Essay
As an example of a conclusion that contains the necessary academic components to be correct, here are two conclusion paragraphs provided by myessaywriting.com that you can use as examples when writing your own. Each one should contain the following elements:
- The conclusion must be a repetition of all the previous content, only told in different words.
- It should suggest further study into alternative areas of the topic.
- It must possess a tone of finality.
- It should re-iterate the statement that was made in the beginning of the essay.
- It should deal that final blow of persuasion to the reader to settle the argument in his or her mind.
- It should contain around 70 - 100 words in total.
Essay title: Why Facebook will be obsolete within the next three years
Description: [This marketing essay was an attempt to convince the reader that Facebook popularity will decline within the next three years. The statement was set forth, much evidence was given, and the outcome of several studies and interviews was discussed.]
As we’ve seen, Facebook is on the verge of taking a back seat in the arena of social media. According to independent surveys that were conducted, 65% of teenagers would prefer to utilize a social media platform that their parents are not on. When we look at the statistics, social platforms such as Pinterest and Twitter are growing at a much faster pace than Facebook did when it first started. For an in-depth study of this subject, I would suggest doing additional research into the popularity of Facebook’s competition. However, the facts so far indicate that the mother of social media platforms is about to lose out.
Essay title: Evidence that the movie Gone with the Wind did not intentionally portray the North in a negative light
Description: This literature essay argued that the Yankees of the American Civil War were not intentionally depicted as scoundrels as some suggest.]
The notion that movie producers of Gone with the Wind had an agenda with this film are obviously unfounded. First of all, we saw that in order to make a statement, evidence must be given to support it. Second, we saw that every portrayal of a Yankee soldier or war time strategy was historically accurate with no bias whatsoever. Lastly, we noted that many of the decision makers in the film were descended from the Northern families of that era, which is a clear indication that no prejudice was ever intended; just good fiction