Gatsby essay assignment

The Great Gatsby
Literary Analysis Essay
For The Great Gatsby, you will create and develop a sophisticated argument surrounding one of the
major themes found in The Great Gatsby. You will construct a thesis that articulates what Fitzgerald seems to
argue about this particular theme. Just a reminder, a theme is an author’s message about a subject/topic that
is conveyed throughout the work. Your essay should include the major components of an essay: an
introduction with thesis, body paragraphs with clear, specific claims that develop the thesis, well-chosen
quotes from the novel explained by well-developed commentary, and, of course, a conclusion.
For your essay, think about the following:
 Consider our reading and discussion of the novel in relation to the topics we’ve discussed: the
American Dream, money, deception, love, morals/ethics, reinvention of the self, etc.
 Choose an essay topic from the list below and find quotes related to that theme.
 Analyze and interpret the quotes related to the theme.
 Construct a well-developed thesis accurately and precisely portraying Fitzgerald’s view on the
o For example, if you pursue the American Dream, you should not write about your views on
the American Dream, but instead develop an argument about Fitzgerald’s view on various
versions of the American Dream and how his characters pursue it. Your body paragraphs
would address how the characters from the book are examples of Fitzgerald’s view of society
as a whole and therefore support his view of the American Dream.
Essay Prompts
1. The American Dream. What is Fitzgerald’s view and portrayal of the American Dream in The Great
Gatsby? What does Fitzgerald suggest are the consequences of following various versions of the
American Dream? For this question, consider what the characters want, how they pursue their
desires, and the consequences of their quest.
2. Money and Wealth. What does Fitzgerald imply about the effect of money on people’s lives in The
Great Gatsby? You may consider wealthy characters, those who become wealthy, and those who try
to become wealthy but fail. How are individual characters affected by their own and society’s
beliefs about money? To what extent does wealth bring happiness and satisfaction? Why is gaining
wealth and how you get your wealth so important?
3. Ethics (Deception). Several characters in the novel deceive themselves and/or other people. What
does Fitzgerald imply about the deception of oneself or others? Why lie? Is it worth it? For this
theme, consider what Fitzgerald believes motivates various types of deception. What does he
suggest are the consequences of deception? What are the costs and benefits?
4. The Reinvention of the Self. To what extent can a person truly and successfully reinvent himself
or herself? Can a person truly change or is who you are fixed by the time you become an adult?
Examine characters who attempt to reinvent themselves, how they attempt to do this, and the
consequences of this pursuit. What does Fitzgerald ultimately seem to say about whether a person
can successfully reinvent him/herself?
5. Love. Examine Fitzgerald’s view of love in the novel. Is there anyone in the novel who feels true
love for another character, or are these characters more in love with the idea of love – the illusion
rather than the reality? What does Fitzgerald suggest prevents true love from developing? What is
true love and is it even possible?
Logistics Deadlines
 Required length is 1400-1600 words, typed, double-spaced, MLA format (approx. 4-6 pages)
 Outline due Monday, October 3
 Rough Draft—Paper Copy —due Wednesday/Thursday, October 5/6
 Rough draft 2 – Paper copy – due Friday, October 7
 Final Draft—Paper Copy +—due Monday, October 10 (need both to be complete!)