Whether you are writing about a novel, short story, poem or play, the conclusion to your literary analysis essay needs to connect your thesis statement to the end of your essay. Summarizing your points is necessary, but the conclusion needs to synthesize all the different elements of the work you analyzed. Conclusions illustrate the significance of your essay in light of the question you have asked and demonstrate that you have successfully defended your literary argument.
Restate the Thesis
A conclusion in a literature paper should begin with a reiteration of your thesis statement, which is your main argument. Inform the reader how you managed to demonstrate your view. If, for example, you are writing about Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird," your thesis may have been that the main character, Scout, has experiences throughout the novel that give her a more mature point of view by book's end. Summarize for the reader how you examined textual evidence to come to that conclusion, which is realized in your thesis statement and then restated in different language in the conclusion.
Synthesize Your Details
Each body paragraph in your essay should have broken down your thesis into subsections that you applied to the narrative, poem or play that you are writing about. The conclusion is where you synthesize the support you developed in the essay and form it into a cohesive statement that demonstrates how well you defended your argument. If Scout in "To Kill A Mockingbird" matured greatly throughout the novel, the conclusion reminds the reader of the way you analyzed the book's events, other critiques and theories throughout each paragraph of your essay.
Conclusions should not give a definitive answer to the question your thesis asks. Literary analysis does not stop at one particular point in time, and essays like yours keep a work of literature moving forward. A good conclusion will ask what needs to be done to solve the problem you have identified. If "To Kill A Mockingbird" centers on blatant racial problems with the criminal justice system, you could discuss aspects of that small town controversy that still exist today. Do not introduce completely new ideas, but draw from your thesis statement and connect it to a sense of duty that you have hopefully instilled in your readers.
The tone of the conclusion should be positive and achieve a feeling of completion. You can use other literary techniques, like simile or metaphor, and you can refer to on-point contemporary issues or ideas. Advanced students may refer to aspects of literary theory if you are knowledgeable about it. Overall, if you have a well-defended argument throughout the paper, the conclusion should be as strong as the rest of the essay.