The Great Gatsby Essay

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The theme of unrequited love in The Great Gatsby
Discuss the fallibility of youth in The Great Gatsby
Discuss the primacy of socioeconomic status as it manifests in The Great Gatsby: which characters confront it with the most grace? Which with the least?
If Daisy and Jay had been members of the same socioeconomic class would they have ended up together? Why or why not? Provide textual evidence.
Nick Carraway goes to great lengths to show and tell the reader that he is a reliable narrator: discuss three concretes way he does this and how successful they are.
How does the period and place of the novel add to the sense of youth, love, promise or despair?
How does the death of Myrtle Wilson highlight a sense of something rotten underscoring the 1920s? Discuss using the novel and the historical period.
What role does Jordan Baker serve in the novel? Discuss why her and Nick aren’t viable love interests.
Discuss the theme of driving, cars and geography in the novel.
In the novel, Myrtle Wilson and Jay Gatsby are the only two characters that perish. They also happen to be two that were both born lower class. Discuss what the author might (or might not) be implying about rich and poor.
One of the most famous lines in the novel is “her voice is full of money.” Discuss what this means about Daisy, Jay, and their connection.
Much has been made about the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. Many teachers equate it with money or the proverbial green traffic light. Connect it with a new symbolism and discuss why the light must be green or shouldn’t be green.


This essay examines one of the most memorable and important works of 20th century fiction: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Though tepidly received by critics at the time, the novel has gone on to secure a permanent place as one of the greatest books ever written about the Jazz Age. This paper discusses a summary of the novel, a brief analysis, a character rundown and some of the more pertinent themes.


Teachers and college professors all over the world often bicker about which 20th century novel really deserves the label of, “the greatest American novel.” Fans of Steinbeck believe The Grapes of Wrath best encompass what it means to be American—in the construction of the nation, the development of the American west, and in the pioneer spirit of adventure and hardship that has shaped this country. Disciples of Hemingway argue that The Sun Also Rises is more fitting for this distinction, and still others argue that Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird best demonstrates truth and justice as it existed during the racially tense period of the Great Depression. Hence, they feel that these qualities make it the great American novel. While scholars of American literature are always going to argue, the reality is that The Great Gatsby really fits the title of the “great American novel” because it covers so many themes that correspond to the development of the nation, and offers a richer story of experiences. The novel discusses class, war, entrepreneurship, transformation, the American dream, youth beauty, young love—all set in one of the most preeminent cities in America—New York. It is simply a richer story, and rather than focusing on one aspect of America’s development—such as racism, justice, or the great migration west, it touches upon so many themes of how the country came to be—even some themes that the nation continues to wrestle with. As a result of all these strengths, one can clearly give F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby the designation of the great American novel.


The novel opens with the narrator Nick Carraway, reassuring us that he is a reliable narrator. He recounts an expression that his father told him. “‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had’”(3). This functions to comfort the reader that the story that is about to be recounted, is indeed a reliable one. The novel is a recollected story— which is important. The reader is indeed beholden on Nick Carraway for information, interpretation and accuracy, and from page one, the reader is in good hands. Nick Carraway was once Jay Gatsby’s neighbor and we are told the tale we are hearing occurred after 1922. When the story begins, Nick has moved to West Egg, Long Island—the more new money end of the two eggs. He’s started a job as a bond salesman and he’s picked a place to live that is near his cousin Daisy (Fay) Buchanan who lives in East Egg with her husband, Tom Buchanan. East Egg is more fashionable and considered to contain more “old money” than the West Egg. This is where he meets Jordan Baker, the professional golfer, who becomes a romantic interest of his. Spending time with the Buchanan’s and Jordan brings his attention to fact that they both live a life of great privilege and comfort. This is in drastic contrast to his own middle class, more modest and more grounded lifestyle. When Nick returns from visiting his cousin, he catches sight of his neighbor (Gatsby) stretching his arms out towards the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock.

Nick then spends time with Tom, who takes him into the city and introduces him to his mistress, Myrtle Wilson. Nick and Tom spend time drinking with Myrtle and her friends, though at the end of the evening, Tom gives Myrtle a bloody nose for repeatedly mentioning his wife. Nick then shifts his attention to his neighbor, Jay Gatsby, who up until this point, the reader hasn’t really seen. Gatsby throws parties every week for the wealthy jet set and Nick receives an invitation. This is noteworthy as invitations for Gatsby’s parties really weren’t ever sent out: people showed up in droves, knowing they would be granted access. Nick attends the brilliant gathering and actually runs into Jordan Baker there. Gatsby speaks with Jordan alone and she returns to the party, shocked at what she’s learned.

Nick and Gatsby begin to spend more time together, and Nick even meets one of Gatsby’s colleagues, Meyer Wolfshiem. This is someone that the reader is ultimately able to infer as being one of Gatsby’s associates in organized crime. Late that day, Nick has tea with Jordan Baker who tells him about that talk she had with Gatsby at the party. She explains that Gatsby is in love with Daisy Buchanan and that they had been sweethearts, but that since he wasn’t financially stable, they were unable to be together. Gatsby accumulated his wealth and bought a mansion across the sound from hers with the intention of throwing these parties in the hopes that she might wander in one night. Later we learn that such a plan would never have happened as Daisy is an old money girl, and would be unlikely to fraternize at such a “new money” party. A plan is cooked up where Nick will ask Daisy over to his house for tea, asking her to come alone, and then Jay will stop by unannounced. The meeting goes as planned, and even though Jay and Daisy are awkward upon their reunion, they soon become comfortable with one another again. Jay then takes the party of three over to his mansion, taking great delight in showing Daisy the extreme splendor of his wealth.

Eventually Nick relays to us how Gatsby accumulated his wealth and how he went from James Gatz, born to modest farm people, reinventing himself as Jay Gatsby. He describes his mentor, Dan Cody, who takes him under his wing, and influences him to envision the person he would ultimately want to become, never acknowledging his impoverished past.

Tom and Daisy actually make it to one of Gatsby’s parties, and Jay and Daisy sneak off alone. It is at the end of this night that Gatsby actually verbalizes to Nick his desire to “repeat the past” seeing it as something that can be recaptured. As the summer months continue on, Daisy and Jay culminate a full-fledged affair. On a particularly doomed day in the summer, one that feels particularly hot, humid and generally unbearable, Jay and Nick drive to have lunch at the Buchanan residence. They all decide to travel into the city, getting a suite at the Plaza Hotel and making mint juleps. Things become increasingly awkward as Daisy is doing very little to hide her affection for Jay, and Tom is becoming increasingly agitated about the whole situation. This is in part because on the way into the city, Tom stops at Wilson’s garage, which is owned by Myrtle’s husband. He has learned of his wife’s affair (despite not knowing who the man involved is) and the knowledge is…

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