How to Write an Essay Introduction

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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. You must also include a transition that links your hook to the next part of your introduction.
Common types of hooks might:

        • Use a quotation

Example: According to Robert Burns, the eighteenth century Scottish poet, “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.” In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee writes about the “inhumanity” of racism …

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

Yes: Is there a way to address the long standing problem of racism in our society? 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: Mothers have been known to exhibit courage in extraordinary circumstances to save and protect their children. Likewise, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee writes about the power of courage to save and protect innocent victims of racism and …

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

Example: An aging man sits in his armchair in the shadows. His brow is furrowed and his eyes are shut closed, as though he is struggling to contain the emotional turmoil inside of him. Outside, the soft murmur of two children playing can be heard. Atticus knows that as the trial grows nearer, it will become impossible for him to protect his children’s youthful innocence. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus, a lawyer defending a black man, is forced to exhibit multiple kinds of courage when …

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

Information discussing. Here the writer introduces the title and author of the book(s) or text(s) and gives any important information the reader needs to know before he/she reads your argument.

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.

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. Our American society today continues to “mourn” many horrific instances of discrimination committed in the past. Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream” reveal how innocent African-Americans are targeted, discriminated against, and killed simply because of their race. However, both texts do not leave their readers with a sense of hopelessness. Instead, they also reveal that several kinds of courage can play a significant role bringing about social change and addressing racial discrimination. Through the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and the “I Have a Dream” speech, Harper Lee and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. argue that intellectual courage has the most potential to bring about social change because many racist beliefs remain unquestioned in society.

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, the writer

and Supporting Points 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. It is not necessary for your restatement to be extremely concise—you may use more than 1-2 sentences.

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
Racism may appear to be an overwhelming and almost impossible problem to address in our society. However, Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream” illustrate the power courage has in addressing racial discrimination. On the other hand, not all kinds of courage have the same potential to create social change because not all types of courage help society consider the root cause of their racism. Intellectual courage has the most potential to bring about social change because it challenges society to evaluate whether the attitudes it has held to be true for centuries are in fact actually true. Although we might never be given the opportunity Atticus and Dr. King had to demonstrate intellectual courage publically in front of a large community, we can still demonstrate intellectual courage in our own families, circle of friends, and classroom communities. We have hope that our courage, though less public, can help end the “inhumanity” of racism and set an example of how to treat others with respect and dignity.

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