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Three Themes in The Great Gatsby

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Symbolism and the American Dream in The Great Gatsby
Gatsby is killed by

It can be helpful to compare Gatsby to other characters, because it can make it easier to understand his attitude and motivations. Remember that there are many valid ways to interpret Gatsby, as he is a very complex, mysterious character. As long as you back up your arguments with evidence from the book you can connect Gatsby to various big-picture themes and ideas.

We will explore that in action below with some common essay topics about Gatsby. Remember that the book is narrated by Nick Carraway, and all of our impressions of the characters come from his point of view. Nick admires Gatsby due to his optimism, how he shapes his own life, and how doggedly he believes in his dream, despite the cruel realities of s America. Gatsby is not so much obsessed with repeating the past as reclaiming it. He wants to both return to that beautiful, perfect moment when he wedded all of his hopes and dreams to Daisy in Louisville, and also to make that past moment his present and future!

Perhaps he fixates on the reclamation of that moment in his past because by winning over Daisy, he can finally achieve each of the dreams he imagined as a young man. The Great Gatsby would probably be much less memorable, first of all! Sad endings tend to stick in your mind more stubbornly than happy ones. Furthermore, the novel would lose its power as a reflection on the American Dream -- if Gatsby ended up with Daisy, the book would be a straightforward rags-to-riches American Dream success story.

The novel would also lose its power as an indictment of class in America, since if Daisy and Gatsby ended up together it would suggest walls coming down between old and new money, something that never happens in the book. Instead, the novel depicts class as a rigid and insurmountable barrier in s America. This would change the tone of the ending, since Gatsby's tragic death seems to outweigh any of his crimes in Nick's eyes. In short, although on your first read of the novel you more than likely are hoping for Gatsby to succeed in winning over Daisy, the novel would be much less powerful with a stereotypically happy ending.

There is a bit of a progression in how the reader regards the American Dream in the course of the novel, which moves in roughly three stages and corresponds to what we know about Jay Gatsby. First, the novel expresses a cautious belief in the American Dream. However, this optimism quickly gives way to skepticism.

This skepticism gives way to pessimism by the end of the novel. With Gatsby dead, along with George and Myrtle, and only the rich alive, the novel has progressed to a charged, emotional critique of the American Dream. After all, how can you believe in the American Dream in a world where the strivers end up dead and those born into money literally get away with murder?

How you answer this prompt will depend on the definition you use of tragic hero. The most straightforward definition is pretty obvious: And to be precise, a tragedy is a dramatic play, or more recently any work of literature, that treats sorrowful events caused or witnessed by a great hero with dignity and seriousness. The tragic hero also has a reversal of fortune, often going from a high place in terms of society, money, and status to a ruined one.

In that sense, Gatsby is more of a playful riff on the idea of a tragic hero, someone who is doomed from aiming too high and from trusting too much. Instead, Nick seems to indict the society around Gatsby for the tragedy, not Gatsby himself.

On the surface in Gatsby, we see a man doing whatever it takes to win over the woman he loves Daisy. He even seems willing to sacrifice everything to protect her by taking the blame for Myrtle's death. However, he ends up killed for his involvement in the affair while Daisy skips town to avoid the aftermath.

This can make it look like Gatsby loves Daisy truly while Daisy doesn't love him at all. However, the truth is much more complicated. Gatsby claims to love Daisy, but he rarely takes into account her own feelings or even the fact that five years have passed since their first romance and that she's changed.

In fact, he's so determined to repeat the past that he is unable to see that Daisy is not devoted to him in the way he thinks she is. Furthermore, Gatsby seems to love Daisy more for what she represents -- money, status, beauty -- than as an actual, flawed human being. Either way, there are certainly strong feelings on both sides. I don't think you could argue Daisy never loved Gatsby or Gatsby never loved Daisy, but their relationship is complex and uneven enough that it can raise doubts.

Read more about love and relationships in Gatsby for more analysis! But why does Gatsby come to rely on Nick so much? The cherry on top of this is the fact Nick is related to Daisy, and is thus a link to her Gatsby can use. So Gatsby starts confiding in Nick to get closer to Daisy, but continues because he finds Nick to be a genuine friend — again, something he severely lacks, as his poor funeral attendance suggests.

Recently, some scholars have argued that another possible layer of The Great Gatsby is that Gatsby is actually part black, but passing as white. You can read more about it here and decide for yourself if you believe it! There are also similar theories that argue that Gatsby is Jewish.

You can read one such theory in depth here. For example, you can analyze the notion of the American dream through symbolism in The Great Gatsby essay, or through carelessness in The Great Gatsby essay, or even through wealth in The Great Gatsby essay.

The following sample focuses on all of these subjects and should give you plenty of inspiring ideas to work with. The Great Gatsby, a novel written by Francis Scott Fitzgerald in , nowadays is rightly seen as the classics of the American literature. On the face of it, the plot seems to be a usual story of broken hopes and expectations. However, with a closer look at this novel, one can discern a number of social issues and problems such as inconsistency of the American dream, the destructive power of money and the futility of the upper class.

All of these themes are being subtly revealed by Fitzgerald through a number of symbols, such as lights, colors, everyday habitual objects, time, the personality of the characters and, of course, through a symbol of money. Green has always been associated with hope; however, some imply to it the notion of money being associated with dollars as well.

Perhaps, the most obvious and clear explanation to Gatsby staring at the green light, dreaming of Daisy is the one of his longing for love and making plans for the future. Light, not necessarily green one, but any light, in general, can be considered to have a special meaning in the novel.

For instance, Fitzgerald describes a number of colors in clothes and household articles that are to portray the characters according to the symbolic role they play in the narration.

Daisy and Jordan, for example, are often depicted in white clothes, which might seem as a symbol of innocence and purity. Nevertheless, neither Daisy, nor Jordan, are seen as chaste and blameless characters in the novel. Thus, it is possible to suppose that in this novel, white only seems to symbolize chastity, while in fact, it shows false purity and hypocrisy.

The bleak grey hues of the valley of ashes symbolically reflect the transition between the West Egg and the East Egg, each of them symbolizing certain notions as well. West Egg and East Egg both stand for money; East Egg is the place for the rich American aristocracy, while West Egg is the domain of the ones who gained the money during their lives, not inherited them. Thus, the valley of ashes shows something in between, something that belongs neither to this world, nor to that.

Doubtless, it is associated with the middle class, with the average population, leading a dull and uninteresting life, left out of the entertainments and sparkling luxury of the Jazz Era.

Grey is the color of mediocrity, and so, by depicting the valley where common people live and toil in grey colors, Fitzgerald emphasizes the idea of a contemptuous attitude of the upper class to the lower one.

A previously described contrast of the upper and lower classes is not the only one in The Great Gatsby. West Egg and East Egg, situated opposite each other, show the gap between the American aristocracy and newly rich entrepreneurs. However, by drawing a special attention to the similar shape and size of the islands, Fitzgerald seems to emphasize the idea, that in fact, the difference can hardly be seen from a distance.

The first and most obvious group Fitzgerald attacks is, of course, the rich. However, for Fitzgerald and certainly his characters , placing the rich all in one group together would be a great mistake. For many of those of modest means, the rich seem to be unified by their money. However, Fitzgerald reveals this is not the case. In The Great Gatsby , Fitzgerald presents two distinct types of wealthy people. First, there are people like the Buchanans and Jordan Baker who were born into wealth.

Their families have had money for many generations, hence they are "old money. Daisy, Tom, Jordan, and the distinct social class they represent are perhaps the story's most elitist group, imposing distinctions on the other people of wealth like Gatsby based not so much on how much money one has, but where that money came from and when it was acquired.

For the "old money" people, the fact that Gatsby and countless other people like him in the s has only just recently acquired his money is reason enough to dislike him. In their way of thinking, he can't possibly have the same refinement, sensibility, and taste they have.

Not only does he work for a living, but he comes from a low-class background which, in their opinion, means he cannot possibly be like them. In many ways, the social elite are right. The "new money" people cannot be like them, and in many ways that works in their favor — those in society's highest echelon are not nice people at all. They are judgmental and superficial, failing to look at the essence of the people around them and themselves, too.

Instead, they live their lives in such a way as to perpetuate their sense of superiority — however unrealistic that may be. The people with newly acquired wealth, though, aren't necessarily much better.

Think of Gatsby's partygoers.

Argumentative essay topics for The Great Gatsby

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Critical Essays Social Stratification: The Great Gatsby as Social Commentary Bookmark this page Manage My Reading List In The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald offers up commentary on a variety of themes — justice, power, greed, betrayal, the American dream, and so on.

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The Great Gatsby essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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In the novel, Nick befriends his puzzling neighbor, Jay Gatsby. The Great Gatsby follows Jay Gatsby on his path to achieve wealth and high social status in order to win back the love he lost. Gatsby's dreams to recreate the past ultimately lead to his tragic downfall. The Great Gatsby is one of those books that resonates throughout the ages–that’s why you’re reading it and writing about it for your class–but you certainly don’t feel comfortable enough with the novel to write a literary analysis.

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The Great Gatsby literary analysis essay topics These are one of the most complicated examples for the college level. You might have to write one of those if you are an English or a literature major. Chapter 1 Analysis of The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald Essay Words | 5 Pages Chapter 1 Analysis of The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby- this title is merely an adjective or epithet for the main character of the story, which brings about the importance of characterization in the book.