How to Write an Essay Introduction

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Freshman Survey Name:________________________

How to Write an Essay Introduction

The purpose of the introductory paragraph is to introduce the reader to the subject of the paper as well as your main argument (thesis). An introduction paragraph has three main sections:

The Hook The hook is what catches the reader’s attention at the beginning of an essay. The purpose of a hook is to engage the reader in your ideas and orient them to your argument. Common types of hooks include:

        • Use a quotation

Example: The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius writes that “To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.” This quote explains the decision George Milton ultimately makes in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men because…

        • Shock the reader with challenging or controversial statement

Example: Euthanasia is just another name for murder. There is no such

thing as a mercy killing. This principle can be applied to John Steinbeck’s Of

Mice and Men because…

        • Pose an interesting, non-clichéd rhetorical question (this is harder than it seems!)

Yes: Is it ever acceptable to take another person’s life? This question

anchors John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, a novel in which…

No (Cliché): “Have you ever...”

“Do you know…”

“Imagine if…”

“Do you wonder if…”

        • Create an analogy

Example: Wild animals caught in a hunter’s traps have been known to chew off their own limbs in order to get free. Likewise, George Milton, a main character in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, tears his insides apart in an effort to free himself from the trap of his friendship with Lennie Small.

        • Create an interesting mood that captures a moment in time and connect it to your thesis

Example: The sweat drips down his temples and his hand shakes as George slowly raises the lugar and aims at the back of Lennie’s neck. This final moment in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men

Background After catching the reader’s interest, the writer must introduce the text

Information the essay will be discussing. Here the writer introduces the title and author of the book and gives any important information the reader needs to know before he/she reads your argument. Remember that the title of a book is underlined or italicized. It does NOT use quotes. (ex. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck OR Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck)

Thesis The introduction ends with the main argument of the paper—your thesis. Your thesis should be the last sentence (or two) of the introductory paragraph. It should be, multi-layered, sophisticated, and follow some form of the “Although/Because” structure. It should be an umbrella statement that synthesizes your claims into a larger complex idea.

Sample Introductory/Thesis Paragraph






According to Robert Burns, the eighteenth century Scottish poet, “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.” Discriminating against someone because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other arbitrary characteristics is one of the cruelest and devastating forms of inhumanity. In his novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck explores the long-term social and psychological effects this form of inhumanity inflicts upon the individual. The story, set in rural Salinas during the time of the Great Depression, follows the lives of Lennie Small and George Milton, two friends who travel together in their quest for work and their everlasting dream: to own their very own piece of land. When they finally secure work at a ranch in Soledad, they meet a cast of characters, two of whom, Crooks and Curley’s wife, shoulder the most discrimination from the group. Although Crooks and Curley’s Wife come from opposite ends of the social spectrum, John Steinbeck’s novel teaches us that anyone who faces discrimination is scarred emotionally and ironically perpetuate the cycle of discrimination because they are unable to stop it.

Claim #1: Discrimination leads one to feel angry and bitter about his/her life.

Claim #2: Discrimination results in people isolating themselves from society as a means of protection and becoming disconnected from themselves and the world around.

Claim #3: Because of this isolation, people lose the ability to understand and feel compassion for others which then causes them to discriminate others because they lash out at others in order to feel some power.

How to Write a Conclusion

The purpose of the conclusion paragraph is to tie the argument of the paper to its social and universal significance. The ultimate purpose of any essay is to give the reader insight into a larger universal truth. The conclusion is where you show the reader why everything you have been discussing really “matters.” This is called the “so what?”

The format of the conclusion is almost an upside down introduction. It starts rather than ends with the thesis, and the issues raised in the hook come at the end rather than the beginning of the paragraph.

The conclusion paragraph has three main sections:

Restatement of Thesis Now that the different sections of the thesis have been argued,

and Supporting Points the writer reminds the reader of the main argument of the paper immediately at the beginning of the final paragraph. These few sentences should quickly restate in new words (i.e. to say the same thing but in different words) the thesis and the claims given as support for the argument.

The “So What?” After reminding the reader of the argument, the writer must then explain the deeper significance of the argument. Answer questions like, “so what?” Why should the reader care about this issue? What implications does your argument have for the “real world” or the way we live? What are the practical applications for these lessons in our own lives?

Final Point/ Return to The conclusion paragraph ends with a statement(s) that sums up

Hook the larger purpose of the essay. It is often artful to return to or allude to the opening hook in some way. This creates a sense of closure, the end of the essay now circling back to the beginning and shedding some new light on the opening idea.

Sample Conclusion Paragraph

Final Thought

So What?”

Restatement of Thesis
Regardless of the time period in which it occurs or the reason, the scars of discrimination remain unchanged. As witnessed in Steinbeck’s novel and in real life events, those who suffer prolonged discrimination grow angry and bitter about their situation in life, and as a means to protect themselves from further emotional pain, isolate themselves from the rest of society. However, festering bitterness coupled with prolonged isolation can cause the persecuted individual to lose his or her ability to feel compassion towards others and, ironically, reciprocate the same cruelty they have suffered. Although it may seem like the vicious cycle of discrimination cannot be broken, reading about the harmful effects of discrimination in both our past and present can help us understand the unnecessary and debilitating pain it causes. By being placed in the shoes of characters like Crooks and Curley’s Wife, a person can vicariously experience other’s suffering. Through this process of understanding another’s pain, we can hopefully one day break the cycle of discrimination and dry the tears of the countless thousands who have mourned.

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