The introduction functions as a tool to bring the subject before the reader in an interesting manner. Regardless of the subject, it is your task to present the material in such a way that the reader is stimulated to read more. A well-written introduction "puts the readers in the right frame of mind for the rest of the essay. It establishes a context for the ideas you wish to present. With a proper context your audience will be more likely to understand your intended message" (Goldman, Hirsch 141).
For example, perhaps one of your topics asks you to choose a position on gun control laws in the United States. You might begin your paper by drawing your reader's attention to the Columbine High School shootings. Creating links between current events and your topic demonstrates to your reader that you are applying theory to life situations; the reader will also be drawn to what is new and problematic. You can then move toward a thesis statement that creates a clear position on gun control laws. The following is an example of a solid introduction.
For many, the Columbine High School shootings are a wake-up call. For those Americans who believe that violence resides only in the inner city, the Columbine shootings were shocking. Violence is not just a problem of the inner city; it is a problem indicative of a society that has lost its moral barometer. Americans no longer trust their current President, the government, nor schools to keep their children safe. As a result, many citizens are investing in firearms in order to keep their property and loved ones from harm. Unfortunately, there are no current laws that require that a person be trained to operate a gun, nor compelled to keep the firearm under lock and key. Therefore, the people of the United States need to push for legislation that will control the availability of guns, define the ways that guns can be stored, and, finally, limit those who can purchase a firearm.
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Conclusions bring closure to your discussion. You do not need to restate your thesis verbatim. If you have established a clear thesis and developed that thesis in the body of the paper, your reader should have a good idea of the main ideas in the paper. Thus, you are signaling to your reader that "you have dealt with the topic as fully as you want to and that you believe your discussion is complete" (Goldman, Hirsch 145).
You may want to pick back up some of the ideas that began the paper. This "circling" can provide a sense of continuity for the reader and provide logical structure for your paper. For example, the sample introduction discusses the Columbine shootings. A conclusion might read as follows.
Although the controversy regarding gun control will never be fully put to rest, establishing legislation to deal with the moral issues that present themselves as the United States hurtles toward the twenty-first century is imperative. Our children need to know that they are safe not only in their homes, but in their schools. The Columbine tragedy testifies not only to increasing violence in the world, but also to the lack of preventative measures surrounding guns. Unfortunately, violence will always be a part of the world, but, fortunately, people have the means to limit and control the weapons of violence. Americans should seize that opportunity.
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