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Academic Resource Center: Introductions and Conclusions

English Essay

  1. First, introduce your topic with an engaging lead: a visual image, a quotation, a provocative statement.
  • A visual image
    • In a dark and lonely spot, a boy races away from the hired assassins murdering his father.
  • A quotation
    • “Fleance/…must embrace the fate/ Of that dark hour” (3.2.154-7).
  • A provocative statement.
    • A cowardly king orders the assassination of a young boy.
  1. Provide an overview of your topic.

In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, Fleance, Banquo’s son, barely outraces the murderers hired by Macbeth, and Macduff’s young children are all slaughtered along with their mother at the king’s orders. During the climactic battle at Dunsinane in the play’s final act, Macbeth manages to kill Young Siward, the son of another enemy.

  1. Make a transition into your thesis statement. 

    Upon assuming the throne of Scotland, Macbeth targets women and children, all much less powerful than he.

  2. State your thesis, which should concisely express your central argument and answer the essay question

Despite the boldness Macbeth shows with these attacks, they reveal he is a weak man, obsessed with who will inherit his throne and so insecure that he fears children.

DO mention the full title of the work you’re discussing, the full name of its author, and its genre (novel, short story, essay, poem, or play).  Italicize titles of novels and plays; place titles of stories, essays, and poems in quotation marks.

DON’T ever use the thesis paragraph to make general statements about literature, society, or human nature.  For example, Many great works of literature address love and conflict between men and women.  Instead, focus on the particular work(s) you’re analyzing.

1. Summarize how the evidence in the body of the paper supports the thesis statement.

Whether through Macbeth’s bemoaning his own lack of sons as he plots to kill Fleance, or through Young Siward’s being the only named person Macbeth kills on the battlefield at Dunsinane, the play emphasizes Macbeth’s obsession with his lack of a son and the cowardice that drives him to attack youths.


From his fixation on the witches’ statement that Banquo’s children will become kings, to his determination to wipe out all of Macduff’s descendants, to the extravagance of his reference to Donalbain’s dead father, Macbeth demonstrates that he’s so obsessed with other men’s possession of the heirs that he himself lacks that’s he terrified of children and willing to kill them.

2. Branch out: make a connection or a judgment. 

Ex: [Making a connection:]  Macbeth boldly kills off his first victim before the second act, in contrast to another of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes, Hamlet, who doesn’t manage to slay an enemy until late in the third act. However, while Macbeth may not shrink from action as Hamlet does, in commanding the murders of women and children, he proves himself far more cowardly.


Ex: [Making a judgment:]  Audiences are accustomed to watching kings lead their armies into war or dispatch those who threaten their hold on the throne but less accustomed to seeing monarchs slaughtering innocent mothers and children. Staging the murders of women and children, Macbeth is an unflinching depiction of the struggle to hold onto political power by any means necessary.


DON’T just restate your thesis.
DO leave the reader thinking about your topic and its importance.

Thank you...

* Special thanks to Dr. Dallett for creating and giving permission to use this information.

History Paper

Your thesis paragraph should open with an engaging statement about your topic, continue with sentences that narrow down the topic, and conclude with your thesis.  For a 5-8 paragraph paper, the introduction will be one paragraph; for a longer paper, the introduction will be two or three paragraphs.

  1. Opening sentences: 
    George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Ben Franklin: these are the names one thinks of when discussing the Revolutionary War and Founding Fathers.
    This statement gives context and introduces the paper topic: the impact of a Founding Father of the United States.
  2. Narrowing sentence: 
    One man who is often forgotten in the conversation of forming America, whether because of his destitute background or abrasive personality, is Alexander Hamilton. 
    The author narrows the focus from the Founding Fathers of the United States in general to Alexander Hamilton and his forgotten legacy. 
  3. Thesis statement:
    Despite his lack of recognition, Hamilton's work as a Founding Father through his revolutionary military heroism, political influence in the late 18th century, and his economic system were essential to the survival and growth of the young republic.
    Here is the author’s central argument. The rest of the essay will provide evidence that Alexander Hamilton had a large role in the creation and success of the United States, even if he has not always been acknowledged.

DO give your essay a title that draws your reader in, such as “The True Greatness of a Forgotten American Leader.”
DO make sure your thesis is an argument rather than a simple statement of fact. In this case, for example, someone else could argue that Alexander Hamilton has been recognized for his contributions or that Hamilton’s efforts were not the most important.
DO lay out the paper’s structure in your introduction, if your thesis doesn't do so already. 
DON’T use the thesis paragraph to make general statements about history, society, or human nature. For example, Alexander Hamilton helped America.

Boldface quotations from Marciano, Nick. “Alexander Hamilton: The True Greatness of a Forgotten American Leader.” United States History Research Paper, 2020.

  1. Summarize how the evidence in the body of the paper supports the thesis statement.  
    Although Alexander Hamilton lacks recognition and his work is still considerably unappreciated, he played a major role in the success of the Revolutionary War, his political ideas shaped the structure of America’s government, and finally, his economic plan stabilized the young country.

    This sentence revisits and then restates the thesis statement using slightly different words than those used in the introduction.
  2. Branch out: make a connection, a prediction, or a judgment.  
    Hamilton’s contribution to the Union was essential and unmatched by any other Founding Father, yet he remains in the shadows of American history. Reputation in history is now, unfortunately, based on what is seen on the surface rather than the realities of life. The outcome and what the public sees is what is understood, yet no one has a full understanding of how these outcomes were truly accomplished.
    The author branches out from the thesis (that Hamilton contributed mightily to America’s success) to tell us what happened afterwards (his legacy has been neglected) and to offer their judgment about the events described (that it is necessary to investigate beyond what is on the surface, ensuring that important contributions are not overlooked).

DON’T just restate your thesis, but DO summarize your argument.
DON’T introduce any new evidence for your thesis.
DON’T ever use the conclusion to make general statements about history, society, or human nature. For example, Throughout history, founders have had a large impact on the direction of a nation.
DO leave the reader thinking about your topic and its importance.

Boldface quotations from Marciano, Nick. “Alexander Hamilton: The True Greatness of a Forgotten American Leader.” United States History Research Paper, 2020.