Frederick Douglass Essay Conclusion Tips

Writing a Good Conclusion Paragraph

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In a conclusion paragraph, you summarize what you’ve written about in your paper. When you’re writing a good conclusion paragraph, you need to think about the main point that you want to get across and be sure it’s included. If you’ve already written a fabulous introductory paragraph, you can write something similar with different wording. Here are some points to remember.

Use your introductory paragraph as a guide. You may have started by saying, “There are three classes at school that I absolutely can’t wait to go to every day.” You can start your conclusion by saying, “Gym, Math, and Art are the three classes I try to never miss.”

If it’s a longer paper, a good place to start is by looking at what each paragraph was about. For example, if you write a paper about zoo animals, each paragraph would probably be about one particular animal. In your conclusion, you should briefly mention each animal again. “Zoo animals like polar bears, lions, and giraffes are amazing creatures.”

Leave your readers with something to think about. Suggest that they learn more with a sentence like, “We have a lot to learn about global warming.” You can also give them something to do after reading your paper. For example, “It’s easy to make your own popsicles. Grab some orange juice and give it a try!”

To sum up, remember that it’s important to wrap up your writing by summarizing the main idea for your readers. This brings your writing to a smooth close and creates a well-written piece of work.


What is a conclusion?

  • A conclusion is what you will leave with your reader
  • It “wraps up” your essay
  • It demonstrates to the reader that you accomplished what you set out to do
  • It shows how you have proved your thesis
  • It provides the reader with a sense of closure on the topic

Structure

  • A conclusion is the opposite of the introduction
  • Remember that the introduction begins general and ends specific
  • The conclusion begins specific and moves to the general

Essay Structure

  • So, if we use shapes to demonstrate the essay’s content, it would look like this:

 

Introduction

Thesis statement

Body of Essay

Rephrased thesis statement

Conclusion

 


What to include

  • Your conclusion wraps up your essay in a tidy package and brings it home for your reader
  • Your topic sentence should summarize what you said in your thesis statement
    • This suggests to your reader that you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish
  • Do not simply restate your thesis statement, as that would be redundant
    • Rephrase the thesis statement with fresh and deeper understanding
  • Your conclusion is no place to bring up new ideas
  • Your supporting sentences should summarize what you have already said in the body of your essay
    • If a brilliant idea tries to sneak into the final paragraph, you must pluck it out and let it have its own paragraph in the body, or leave it out completely
  • Your topic for each body paragraph should be summarized in the conclusion
  • Your closing sentence should help the reader feel a sense of closure
  • Your closing sentence is your last word on the subject; it is your “clincher”
    • Demonstrate the importance of your ideas
    • Propel your reader to a new view of the subject
    • End on a positive note
  • Your closing sentence should make your readers glad they read your paper

Strategies for an effective conclusion

  • Play the “So What” Game.
    • When you read a statement from the conclusion, ask yourself, “So what?” or “Why should anybody care?”
    • Ponder that question and answer it
      • Basically, I’m just saying that education was important to Douglass
      • So what?
      • Well, it was important because it was a key to him feeling like a free and equal citizen
      • Why should anybody care?
      • That’s important because plantation owners tried to keep slaves from being educated so that they could maintain control. When Douglass obtained an education, he undermined that control personally.
  • Return to the theme or themes in the introduction
    • This brings the reader full circle
    • If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding
    • Refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words, or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction
  • Summarize
    • Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in the paper
  • Pull it all together
    • Show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together
  • Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for the paper
  • Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study
  • Point to broader implications
    • A paper about the style of writer, Virginia Woolf, could point to her influence on other writers or later feminists

Concluding strategies that do not work

  • Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase
  • These may work in speeches, but they come across as wooden and trite in writing
    • “in conclusion”
    • “in summary”
    • “in closing”
    • “as shown in the essay”
  • Stating the thesis for the very first time
  • Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion
  • Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of the paper
  • Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper

Ineffective conclusions

  • “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It”
    • Restates the thesis and is usually painfully short
    • Does not push ideas forward
    • Written when the writer can’t think of anything else to say
    • Example
      • In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
  • “Sherlock Holmes”
    • State the thesis for the first time in the conclusion
    • Writer thinks it would be more dramatic to keep the reader in suspense and then “wow” them with the main idea, as in a Sherlock Holmes mystery
    • Readers want an analytical discussion of the topic in academic style, with the thesis statement up front
  • “America the Beautiful”
    • Draws on emotion to make its appeal
    • Out of character with the rest of the paper
  • “Grab Bag”
    • Includes extra information thought of or found but couldn’t integrate into the main body
    • Creates confusion for the reader

Conclusion outline

  • Topic sentence
    • Fresh rephrasing of thesis statement
  • Supporting sentences
    • Summarize or wrap up the main points in the body of the essay
    • Explain how ideas fit together
  • Closing sentence
    • Final words
    • Connects back to the introduction
    • Provides a sense of closure

More Concluding Paragraph Resources

Frederick Douglass 1817(?)-1895

(Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey) American lecturer, autobiographer, editor, essayist, and novella writer.

See also Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself Criticism.

Douglass is considered one of the most distinguished black writers in nineteenth-century American literature. Born into slavery, he escaped in 1838 and subsequently devoted his considerable rhetorical skills to the abolitionist movement. Expounding the theme of racial equality in stirring, invective-charged orations and newspaper editorials in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s, he was recognized by his peers as an outstanding orator and the foremost black abolitionist of his era. Douglass's current reputation as a powerful and effective prose writer is based primarily on his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. Regarded as one of the most compelling antislavery documents produced by a fugitive slave, the Narrative is also valued as an eloquent argument for human rights. As such, it has transcended its immediate historical milieu and is now regarded as a landmark in American autobiography.

Biographical Information

The son of a black slave and an unidentified white man, Douglass was separated from his mother in infancy. Nurtured by his maternal grandmother on the Tuckahoe, Maryland estate of his master, Captain Aaron Anthony, he enjoyed a relatively happy childhood until he was pressed into service on the plantation of Anthony's employer, Colonel Edward Lloyd. There Douglass endured the rigors of slavery. In 1825, he was transferred to the Baltimore household of Hugh Auld, where Douglass earned his first critical insight into the slavery system. Overhearing Auld rebuke his wife for teaching him the rudiments of reading, Douglass deduced that ignorance perpetuated subjugation and decided that teaching himself to read could provide an avenue to freedom. Enlightened by his clandestine efforts at self-education, Douglass grew restive as his desire for freedom increased, and was eventually sent to be disciplined, or "broken," by Edward Covey. When he refused to submit to Covey's beatings and instead challenged him in a violent confrontation, Douglass overcame a significant psychological barrier to freedom. In 1838, he realized his long-cherished goal by escaping to New York. Once free, Douglass quickly became a prominent figure in the abolitionist movement. In 1841, he delivered his first public address—an extemporaneous speech at an anti-slavery meeting in Nantucket, Massachusetts—and was invited by William Lloyd Garrison and other abolitionist leaders to work as a lecturer for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society. By 1845, Douglass's eloquent and cogent oratory had led many to doubt that he was indeed a former slave. He responded by composing a detailed account of his slave life, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, which was an immediate popular success. Having opened himself to possible capture under the fugitive slave laws, Douglass fled that same year to Great Britain, where he was honored by the great reformers of the day. Returning to the United States in 1847, he received sufficient funds to purchase his freedom and establish The North Star, a weekly abolitionist newspaper. During the 1850s and early 1860s, Douglass continued his activities as a journalist, abolitionist speaker, and autobiographer. By the outbreak of the Civil War, he had emerged as a nationally-recognized spokesman for black Americans and, in 1863, advised President Abraham Lincoln on the use and treatment of black soldiers in the Union Army. His later years were chiefly devoted to political and diplomatic assignments, including a consulgeneralship to the Republic of Haiti, which he recounts in the 1892 revised edition of his final autobiographical work, the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself. Douglass died at his home in Anacostia Heights, District of Columbia, in 1895.

Major Works

In his speeches on abolition, Douglass frequently drew on his first-hand experience of slavery to evoke pathos in his audience. He is most often noted, however, for his skillful use of scorn and irony in denouncing the slave system and its abettors. One of the stock addresses in his abolitionist repertoire was a "slaveholders sermon" in which he sarcastically mimicked a pro-slavery minister's travesty of the biblical injunction to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." His most famous speech, an address delivered on July 5th, 1852, in Rochester, New York, commonly referred to as the "Fourth of July Oration," is a heavily ironic reflection on the significance of Independence Day for slaves. The several installments of Douglass's autobiography—which include the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), and the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881)—depart from the biting tone of his oratory and are often described as balanced and temperate, though still characterized by Douglass's dry, often ironic, wit. While these works are valued by historians as a detailed, credible account of slave life, the Narrative is widely acclaimed as an artfully compressed yet extraordinarily expressive story of self-discovery and self-liberation. In it Douglass records his personal reactions to bondage and degradation with straightforward realism and a skillful economy of words. He based his 1853 novella The Heroic Slave on the real-life slave revolt aboard the American ship Creole in 1841. Douglass's only work of fiction, it celebrates the bravery of Madison Washington, who is portrayed as a lonely and isolated hero.

Critical Reception

Appealing variously to the political, sociological, and aesthetic interests of successive generations of critics, Douglass has maintained his celebrated reputation as an orator and prose writer. Douglass's contemporaries viewed him primarily as a talented antislavery agitator whose manifest abilities as a speaker and writer refuted the idea of black inferiority. This view persisted until the 1930s, when both Vernon Loggins and J. Saunders Redding called attention to the "intrinsic merit" of Douglass's writing and acknowledged him to be the most important figure in nineteenth-century black American literature. In the 1940s and 1950s, Alain Locke and Benjamin Quarles respectively pointed to the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass and the Narrative as classic works which symbolize the black role of protest, struggle, and aspiration in American life. Critics in recent years have become far more exacting in their analysis of the specific narrative and rhetorical strategies that Douglass employed in the Narrative to establish a distinctly black identity, studying the work's tone, structure, and placement in American literary history. In addition, scholars have since elevated the reputation of the Narrative, while noting that the later installments of his autobiography fail to recapture the artistic vitality of their predecessor. Continued study and praise of the autobiographies and Douglass's other works may be taken as an indication of their abiding interest. As G. Thomas Couser has observed, Douglass was a remarkable man who lived in an exceptionally tumultuous period in American history. By recording the drama of his life and times in lucid prose, he provided works which will most likely continue to attract the notice of future generations of American literary critics and historians.

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