Writing Help

Academic Essays

The Last Sentence

The final sentence is your last chance to send off the reader with your message. Captive readers have had to read your whole essay, like it or not, while non-captive readers have chosen to take the whole journey with you. Reward both kinds of readers with a sendoff that is well constructed and leaves a good impression.

Let's examine Tocqueville's concluding sentence for a non-captive audience after hundreds of pages:

"The nations of our time cannot prevent the conditions of men from becoming equal; but it depends upon themselves whether the principle of equality is to lead them to servitude or freedom, to knowledge or barbarism, to prosperity or to wretchedness."

(1) "cannot prevent": be aware that equality is coming, like it or not;

(2) "it depends upon themselves": here is something we can do;

(3) "principle of equality": this is the central theme of the book;

(4) notice the pleasing either/or structure of the last half of the sentence.

Let's now conclude the Petruchio essay in the same style, for practice:

"We never can keep perfect control over the ceremonies that mean the most to us; but at least we can advise planning over anarchy, prudence over haphazardness, and tuxedos over leather."