Definition of Conclusion / A Concluding Paragraph in Essay

A conclusion is the last paragraph of an essay. It occurs after the body paragraphs have said what they have to say. It is comprised of three important elements:

  1. Rephrasing of the thesis statement
  2. Summary of main ideas
  3. Concluding remarks

The first element, the rephrasing of the thesis statement, is to remind readers about the topic discussed in the essay. It usually breaks the thesis statement into three parts, and put it in two or three sentences.

The second element summarizes all of the main points of the essay. It usually contains three or more sentences. It could be that these main points are the same given in the thesis statement before it, repeating them for emphasis. However, mostly these main points are other than the ones given in the thesis statement.

The concluding remarks are the final remarks of the essay. These remarks could be a call to action, a suggestion, a recommendation, or a wakeup call. It could be a final question mark demanding further detailed response, or it could be an ending statement.

Difference Between a Body Paragraph and Conclusion

A body paragraph explains a claim made in its topic sentence. It then gives an example, and supporting details about the claim. However, a conclusion sums up the whole essay on a thoughtful response. Both have different elements and different structures.

Examples of Conclusion in Literature

Example #1:  Free-Speech Follies (by Stanley Fish)

“Are there then no free-speech issues on campuses? Sure there are; there just aren’t very many. When Toni Smith, a basketball player at Manhattanville College, turned her back to the flag during the playing of the national anthem in protest against her government’s policies, she was truly exercising her First Amendment rights, rights that ensure that she cannot be compelled to an affirmation she does not endorse … And as she stood by her principles in the face of hostility, she truly was (and is) a First Amendment hero, as the college newspaper editors, the members of the Harvard English department, and the head of the Emma Goldman Project are not. The category is a real one, and it would be good if it were occupied only by those who belong in it.”

Stanley Fish has given a beautiful turn to this conclusion in his essay. He has stated what he believes by the end about the “category” but with a leniency with the word “if,” making it conditional. He has also stated major points of his essay in the middle of the conclusion after restatement of the thesis.

Example #2: In Praise of The Word “F” Word (by Mary Sherry)

“Flunking as a regular policy has just as much merit today as it did two generations ago. We must review the threat of flunking and see it as it really is—a positive teaching tool. It is an expression of confidence by both teachers and parents that the students have the ability to learn the material presented to them. However, making it work again would take a dedicated, caring conspiracy between teachers and parents. It would mean facing the tough reality that passing kids who haven’t learned the material—while it might save them grief for the short term—dooms them to long-term illiteracy. It would mean that teachers would have to follow through on their threats, and parents would have to stand behind them, knowing their children’s best interests are indeed at stake. This means no more doing Scott’s assignments for him because he might fail. No more passing Jodi because she’s such a nice kid. This is a policy that worked in the past and can work today. A wise teacher, with the support of his parents, gave our son the opportunity to succeed—or fail. It’s time we return this choice to all students.”

Just check the concluding remarks of this conclusion. After giving a lot of major points, Mary Sherry has given her verdict about how the time has come to let the students choose what they want to do in their lives.

Example #3: Common Decency (by Susan Jacoby)

“Fortunately for everyone, neither the character of men nor the general quality of relations between the sexes is that crude. By censuring the minority of men who use ordinary socializing as an excuse for rape, feminists insist on sex as a source of pure pleasure rather than as a means of social control. Real men want an eager sexual partner—not a woman who is quaking with fear or even one who is ambivalent. Real men don’t rape.”

This conclusion comprises a very short rephrase of the thesis statement, main points, and a very short concluding remark.

Function of Conclusion

A conclusion means an end. The conclusion intends to end an idea in a meaningful way, in that the readers should feel that they have reached some decision. It helps readers to decide what they want to do next. They either implement suggestions, make recommendations, or urge the reader to think about it more to find out a resolution of the problem.