The Great Gatsby Essay topics

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The following are topics from which you may choose to write your Gatsby essay. Choose one topic and shape your essay around a thesis that you create. Remember, your thesis is a statement and should be an answer to the question you are trying to answer.

  1. Perform a character analysis of Daisy. What’s she really about? Is she a pawn? Did she ever love Gatsby? Is she manipulative? What other questions about her intrigue you and leave you wondering?
  2. Is Nick a reliable or unreliable narrator? How does his point of view color the reality of the novel, and what facts or occurrences would he have a vested interest in obscuring?
  3. Fitzgerald’s story shows the clear delineations between different strata of society: new money, old money, some money, and no money. How are readers to interpret his comments on each of these groups? Does he hold any one group above the other? Are there ways in which people of all groups are alike?
  4. Discuss the novel’s theme that the American Dream is corrupted by the desire for wealth. What do the novel and its theme offer about the American identity?
  5. Who is most responsible for Gatsby’s death?
  6. Is what Gatsby feels for Daisy love, obsession, affection, or accumulation/objectification?  What is Fitzgerald’s message here? Consider discussing whether or not Gatsby can really love, given his characteristics.
  7. Compare and contrast the major female characters in the novel: Daisy, Jordan, and Myrtle. How does each act towards men? What are their motivations/goals/interests/values? How are they treated by men (including the narrator/author)?
  8. Discuss Fitzgerald’s use of symbolism (this is a large topic that must be significantly narrowed – such as focusing on one symbol and analyzing it in detail – with a specific thesis). How does it function in the novel (consider discussing how it relates to the theme, communicates information about characters, develops the plot, etc.)? Possible symbols to discuss include: colors, eyes of T.J. Eckleburg, clothing, cars, the green light, biblical allusions (God, Jesus, grail), characters’ houses, weather, water, music, celestial bodies (moon, stars, planets), nature’s bounty (flowers, shrubs, trees, fruit), etc.
  9. Morally ambiguous characters—characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evil or purely good—are at the heart of many works of literature.  Choose a character from the novel who is morally ambiguous and write an essay in which you explain how the character can be viewed as morally ambiguous and why his/her moral ambiguity is significant to the work as a whole.
  10. Many would say that Gatsby’s funeral is an exceptionally sad affair, but others might say that the nature of the event was hardly a surprise. Write a thesis essay that argues whether or not Gatsby’s funeral and burial ceremony were actually as they should have been; prove, essentially, if Gatsby got the send-off he deserved.