Introductions and Conclusions Some Basic Guidelines Identify the Text

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Introductions and Conclusions

  • Some Basic Guidelines

Identify the Text

  • Your opening paragraph should identify the author and the title of the work you are setting out to discuss.
  • ITALICIZE THE TITLE OF THE WORK. Do NOT underline it. Make sure that you write it out exactly as it appears on the book’s cover.
  • The book is NOT called “How To Kill A Mockingbird.

Identify the Text.

  • You don’t need a unique sentence to introduce the author and the title; you should build it into a sentence in the introduction.
  • For example:
    • “Most readers of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre find Mr. Rochester an attractive and sympathetic figure…”

Sample Introduction Paragraph

  • In The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe embarks on a journey into the darkness of the human mind. Poe’s main point, evoked most strongly in the story through the image of the reawakening of the buried Madeline, is that whatever the rational conscious mind attempts to suppress, the irrational subconscious mind will reveal.

Sample Introductory Paragraph

  • In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens expresses his dislike of the upper classes and the rich. He makes it clear that his favorites are people like Joe Gargery and Biddy, humble people with n o social pretensions and no ambitions to live among the rich and mighty. These simple, good people are contrasted with snobs like Bentley Drummle, who represent that Dickens hated most about the upper classes.

Introduction Checklist

  • Provide the name of the author.
  • The title of the literary work.
  • Move rapidly to discuss specifics of the literary work.
  • Conclude introductory paragraph with a succinct statement of the thesis. Name at least one character in illustrating the thesis.

Thesis Statements

  • You should use your thesis statement to awaken interest in your topic. Take time to make sure that your thesis is the focal point of your introduction. You should state your thesis towards the END of your introduction.

The Essay’s Title

  • Your introductory paragraph might pick up and develop an idea or image in your title. However, the introduction should not repeat the topic of your title.

False Starts—Please Avoid These Things.

  • Avoid Discussion of your Paper:
    • Open your paper with a statement about the literary work, not about your own paper.
    • Instead of saying—”In the following pages I shall attempt to prove that…”
    • Say— “In Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird…”

False Starts—Please Avoid These Things.

  • Avoid Random Judgments / Generalizations:
    • “To Kill A Mockingbird is a great book and the story is so awesome.”

Sample Beginnings

  • Begin with a direct quotation:
  • Example:
    • “Samuel Taylor Coleridge begins his poem “Kubla Khan” with the lines, “In Xanadu did ….”, immediately pulling his readers into an exotic, foreign world composed of caves…”

Sample Beginnings

  • Begin with a Character:
  • Example:
    • “Willy Loman suffers from a failure of confidence. As the hero of Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman, he infects his family and entire atmosphere of the play with his sense of failure.”

Sample Beginnings

  • Begin with the Theme:
    • Example:
      • Graham Greene’s The Destructors provides several examples of the theme that humans are senselessly destructive.

Sample Introduction / Conclusion

  • Shakespeare’s Hamlet opens with a question. “Who’s there?” are the first words spoken in the darkness surrounding the castle at Elsinore. The question echoes throughout the play and is especially relevant to the ghost. Who is this ghost who appears in the first act? Are his intentions good or evil? He has he come to tempt the young prince to do evil or to encourage him to perform an honorable act? These questions are part of the basic question of “Who’s there?” and give the first act and the entire play a mood of doubt and uncertainty. Hamlet calls the ghost “questionable,” and the questions that the ghost raises are never fully answered. The ghost is questionable to the very end.

Sample Introduction / Conclusion

  • The play ends with some things clear and definite: Hamlet has killed Claudius and ended his corrupt and false rule. The prince has taken steps to rid Denmark of evil, but it is by no means clear that a better government will succeed Claudius. Hamlet is dead, and the uncertainty of evil hands over the court. Nothing in the play has settled the truth about the ghost, and so to the end of the play continues in the doubting spirit that was expressed in the opening question, “Who’s there?” When the final curtain falls, there is still no answer to this question.

Conclusion Checklist

  • Conclusions SHOULD NOT restate the original thesis in the same words. You can return to the idea of the thesis, applying the thesis to the action of the play in specific ways.
  • Add to the reader’s understanding of the thesis at the same time bringing the argument to a close.


  • End with your Thesis:
    • Leave the reader with the feeling that you, the writer, have concluded your argument and proved your point.
    • A concluding paragraph should return to the thesis.
    • The most difficult papers to conclude are those without a thesis.

Conclusions-False Endings

  • Avoid Discussion of your Paper–
  • DO NOT WRITE– “This paper has demonstrated that…”
  • Avoid Repetition of your Findings—

Conclusions-False Endings

  • Avoid Judgments of Approval or Disapproval:
      • “Harper Lee was a great writer…”

Conclusions-False Endings

  • Avoid a Focus on Your Reactions.
      • “I found To Kill A Mockingbird a fascinating work because I could relate so easily to Scout…”

Conclusions-False Endings

  • Avoid the Introduction of a New Topic:
    • DO NOT—
      • Move on to another idea…

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