Comparisons come naturally in life: We often evaluate items for value and choose a winner. The traditional compare and contrast essay asks students to put this evaluation into words. The final paragraph holds a strong position in the essay. The reader encounters it last and so remembers its the place to reinforce the main thrust of analysis essay. The conclusion of a compare and contrast essay encourages the reader to agree with the writer's points.
Compare and contrast essays encourage students to make connections between ideas and, therefore, gain an understanding of their relationship with each other. When teachers assign these essays, the wording includes the obvious: compare, contrast, differences, similarities. Sometimes the assignment is more oblique; students understand the essay is a comparison because they are being asked to consider two things. For example, if an assignment asks them to reflect on how a theme is treated in two texts, they identify this as a compare and contrast assignment. If the prompt specifies "compare," students compare similarities; if the prompt specifies "contrast," they consider differences.
The structure of a conclusion paragraph mirrors the introduction, which takes readers from broad to narrow. The conclusion should take the focus from the narrowness of the thesis statement to the broader implications of the main idea. For a compare and contrast essay, the conclusion starts with the thesis statement and includes a brief summary of the comparison. A strong conclusion paragraph leaves the readers with final thoughts: an image, a quote or even a rhetorical question. The goal is to leave a lasting impression with the readers.
The thesis statement in a compare and contrast essay makes a specific claim, preferably including some analysis related to the two ideas. For example, if comparing theme in two pieces of literature, the student wants to include some evaluation in the thesis statement: By indulging in hyperbole, the poem treats the theme of love less believably than the short story. In the conclusion, the thesis statement gets reformulated: The short story more accurately develops the theme of love than the poem. Students use synonyms or change the order of clauses and wording of a thesis statement in the conclusion.
Essays call for an academic style. However, well-crafted writing stands out. A strong ending paragraph can include figures of speech such as simile or metaphor. Figurative language makes for effective final thoughts. The conclusion also needs to give a feeling of completeness, that the topic is thoroughly explored. Word choice that displays confidence engenders a feeling of trust in the reader. A well-written essay is also concise, and this shows in the conclusion. Conciseness comes from finding the appropriate word rather than using modifiers. If appropriate, the writer can also inject humor. The conclusion paragraph ties up loose ends and leaves the reader thinking, hopefully, in alignment with the writer's points.
- University of Northern Carolina at Chapel Hill: Comparing and Contrasting
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Parts of the Essay, Outlining
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Conclusions
- University of Washington Writing Center: Compare/Contrast Papers
- Capital Community College Foundation: Concluding Paragraphs
- Boston University Admissions: Write an Essay that Stands Out
- Wheaton College Writing Center: Style, Diction, Tone, and Voice
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images