A literary essay must analyze and evaluate a literary work or some aspect of it. You might have to write a literary essay for Language class, or as an assignment for a Literature class. After a lot of work, you could have most of the literary essay finished and may be stuck on the conclusion. A strong conclusion will restate the thesis statement and expand the scope of the essay by four to six sentences. You should also have an effective last sentence, so that you can conclude it successfully.
Part 1 of 3: Rearrange the Thesis Statement
Step 1. Paraphrase the thesis statement
Do not repeat it as it appears in the introduction. This will look redundant and show a lack of creativity on your part. Instead, paraphrase it so it looks different in the conclusion. This will show that you have considered it based on the rest of the essay and that you feel confident enough to paraphrase it. Change the language and word choice of the original thesis.
- For example, perhaps the original thesis statement was "There are elements of tragedy in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, but its structure, themes, and setting belong to the genre of comedy."
- You may then have to paraphrase the sentence by changing some of the language from the original and using a more exact word choice. For example, the paraphrased statement might look like this: "While there are tragic moments in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the play's structure, themes, and setting fit the comedy genre."
Step 2. Check it out
Another option is to revise the statement to make it clearer, and make more in-depth edits. Go back to the introduction and read it again. Then keep it in mind as you read the body paragraphs. Consider if you still find it relevant to the essay or if you could revise it. Then make changes to it to better reflect the essay as a unit.
- Perhaps the original thesis statement was "There are elements of tragedy in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, but its structure, themes, and setting belong to the genre of comedy."
- You could then revise it to better reflect the essay as a unit, like this: “While tragic events do occur in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the three-act structure, themes of magic and dreams, and the absurd setting of the play indicates that it fits into the genre of comedy”.
- Keep in mind that you only need to make major revisions to the thesis to reflect the rest of the essay as a unit. Make sure the original statement in the introduction continues to complement or reflect the revised thesis in the conclusion.
Step 3. Place the thesis statement at the beginning of the conclusion
Begin the conclusion with the paraphrased or revised thesis. This will lay the groundwork for the conclusion and show that you are connecting it to the rest of the essay. You can then use the revised thesis to develop the rest of the conclusion.
You do not have to write "In conclusion", "In summary" or "To conclude" before the thesis statement when you start the conclusion. This can look very formal and forced. Instead, start with a new paragraph and go straight to the paraphrased thesis at the beginning of the conclusion
Part 2 of 3: Write in the middle section of the conclusion
Step 1. Use the language and tone of voice in the introduction
The middle section of the conclusion should be 3 to 5 sentences long. This should broaden the scope of the essay, borrowing the language and tone of voice that you established in the introduction. Read the introduction to get an idea of tone and word choice. Take certain phrases or terms that you like from the introduction and paraphrase them in the conclusion. This will make it feel like part of the rehearsal as a unit.
- For example, you could include in the introduction a sentence about how the setting of the play affects its genre. You could then paraphrase it and include it in the conclusion.
- If you read the introduction and notice that some ideas have changed in the body paragraphs, you may need to revise it and use the revisions and then write the middle section of the conclusion.
Step 2. Repeat the themes and images from the rest of the essay
You can also take the themes and images that appear in the introduction or the body of the essay, and include them in the conclusion. Perhaps there is a particular image or setting from the literary text that you responded to in the body section that you want to include in the conclusion. Perhaps there is a specific theme that comes up in the body of the section that you want to reiterate in the conclusion.
For example, you may focus on the theme of magic in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in the body of the essay. You can then reiterate this theme using an image of the work that illustrates the magical element of the text
Step 3. Place a relevant reference from the literary text
If you include a relevant reference to the literary text in the conclusion, this can also make it more robust and effective. Perhaps there is a reference that you like, but you cannot find a space for it in the body paragraphs. On the other hand, perhaps there is a reference that looks like the summary of the approach of the essay as a unit. Use the reference to support the thesis statement and the statements in it.
If your essay focuses on the theme of love in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, you could include a reference to the text to illustrate this
Step 4. Answer the question “Why is it important?
”. Reflect on why someone would care about what you mention in the essay and why the focus of the essay is important. Answering the question "Why is it important?" Can help you generate interesting elements to end the essay at the conclusion.
For example, if you were writing the essay on To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, you might answer the question "Why is it important?" reflecting on how and why Harper Lee's novel addresses issues of race and identity in the southern United States. You could then use the answer in the conclusion
Step 5. Summarize the essay
As part of the conclusion, you can also summarize the essay in a short sentence. Don't go back to mentioning the details of the essay or just list the points you've already made in it. This can look redundant. Instead, focus on the salient key points and connect them with your thesis statement. In this way, you can show that the points covered in the essay are relevant to the topic.
You could summarize the essay by stating, “An analysis of the scenes between the white and African-American characters in the novel, such as the one done in this essay, makes it clear that Lee addresses questions about race and identity in the South. from the USA”
Step 6. Do not include new information
Don't include new information or perspectives in the conclusion. This will only confuse the reader and make the essay look unbalanced. The conclusion should explore ideas already present in the essay, not present new ones.
Part 3 of 3: Finish the conclusion
Step 1. End with a powerful image or text detail
Creating a good ending sentence for your literary essay can be challenging. One option is to use a powerful image or detail from the literary text that will appeal to the reader. These should relate to the focus of the essay and reiterate the thesis statement.
If the focus of the essay is the subject of magic, you could end up with an image of the text that includes a magical element that is important to the main character
Step 2. Finish with a direct and simple sentence
Write the final sentence making sure that it is made up mostly of short words, which will keep it simple and direct for the reader. If you have a simple and direct closing sentence, this will ensure that it has impact and stays in the reader's mind.
Read the last sentence and delete any words that seem unnecessary or confusing. Simplify the last sentence of the conclusion to make it concise and direct
Step 3. Set the essay in larger context
Another way you can end your conclusion is by relating your essay to a more important problem or contemporary context. Reflect on how the themes or ideas in the essay might relate to larger issues in literature or a contemporary issue in the media. This can be a good way to make your essay feel relevant to today.
- For example, you could connect one on To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee with modern issues about the rights of African Americans in America.
- Do not provide exaggerated statements in the conclusion in order to summarize your thoughts. You can connect the essay with a larger context. On the other hand, if you try to connect it with ambiguous ideas like “suffering in the world” or the “wage gap”, this will only confuse the reader and weaken the conclusion.
Step 4. Edit the conclusion before submitting the essay
Once you've finished your conclusion, read it for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. Read the conclusion out loud to ensure it is well organized and flows well. You can even have someone else read it if you have the time and this would help, providing a straightforward thesis statement and a solid final line. Make sure the tone and language of the conclusion match those of the rest of the essay.