Hailed as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, The Great Gatsby is a story that explores love, betrayal, and the pursuit of the American dream in the 1920s.
If you have been asked to write an essay on this classic novel, you might be a little nervous trying to figure out what you should include. However, don’t worry! This guide will walk you through the process of writing an excellent Gatsby essay and provide 20 The Great Gatsby essay topic ideas.
Essay Writing Essentials
Before you can write an essay on The Great Gatsby, you need to understand the basics of essay writing. This includes developing a clear thesis, supporting your claims with evidence from the book, and crafting a solid conclusion.
Writing a Thesis
A thesis statement details the overall point or argument you intend to make in the essay. Therefore, a thesis statement must be clear, specific, and arguable. A thesis statement will be best placed at the end of your first paragraph or as a way to wrap up your introduction if it is multiple paragraphs.
Some examples of well-written thesis statements for a The Great Gatsby include:
“While The Great Gatsby appears to be a novel about love, in reality, it is a scathing critique of the American dream.”
“Though Jay Gatsby is wealthy and well-liked, he is ultimately a tragic figure because he cannot escape his past.”
“The relationships in The Great Gatsby are all ultimately doomed because the characters are not honest with each other or themselves.”
Developing Supporting Claims for the Body
To support your thesis statement, you will need to include evidence from the novel in the form of quotes and analysis. It is vital that you choose passages that directly relate to your thesis and that you explain how these quotes support your argument.
One way to find quotes that support your thesis is to look for passages that seem particularly significant or interesting to you. Then, once you have a few potential quotes in mind, try to come up with a sentence or two explaining how the quote supports your argument. This will help you determine if the quote is actually relevant to your essay or if you need to keep looking.
It can also be helpful to go back to your list of potential thesis statements and look for quotes that could support each one. This way, you can get a sense of which quotes will be most beneficial for your essay before writing.
Crafting a Strong Conclusion
Your conclusion should briefly summarize the main points of your essay and reiterate your thesis statement. You might also want to leave the reader with something to think about or a call to action if you feel strongly about the issue you have been discussing.
A strong conclusion might look something like this:
“Though Gatsby’s pursuit of the American dream is ultimately fruitless, his efforts are nonetheless admirable. His willingness to fight for what he wants, even in the face of overwhelming odds, is something that we can all learn from.”
Citing and Formatting Essays About Books
In addition to using evidence from the novel to support your claims, you will also need to cite any sources you use in your essay. This includes any quotes or paraphrases from The Great Gatsby and any outside sources you might have used.
When citing a quote from The Great Gatsby, you will need to include the page number in parentheses after the quote. For example:
“Daisy’s voice was sad ‘I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'” (10).
If you are paraphrasing or summarizing a passage from The Great Gatsby, you will just need to include the page number in parentheses after the paraphrase. For example:
Gatsby’s wealth is often seen as a symbol of his success, but it is also clear that money cannot buy happiness. (21)
If you cite an outside source, you will need to include both the author’s name and the page number (or, for sources that don’t use page numbers, the section or chapter number) in parentheses after the quote. For example:
“The Great Gatsby is widely regarded as a masterpiece of American fiction” (Baldwin 3).
Formatting an Essay About a Book
When formatting your essay, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind. First, all mentions of the book’s title need to be italicized or underlined. Second, your essay should have one-inch margins on all sides.
Your essay should also have a title page that includes the title of your essay, your name, and the name of your class. If you are writing a longer essay (5 or more pages), you may need to also include a header on each page. It’s best to speak with your instructor to clarify any specific formatting requirements for the assignment.
20 The Great Gatsby Essay Topics
Now that you know how to write an essay on The Great Gatsby, you can start brainstorming potential topics for your paper. If you are having trouble, consider using or adapting one of the following topics.
- How does Gatsby’s wealth (or lack thereof) impact his relationships?
- How does Gatsby’s pursuit of the American dream ultimately fail?
- What role do women play in The Great Gatsby?
- How are the parties that Gatsby throws symbolic of his own emptiness?
- How does Fitzgerald use symbolism to comment on the state of the American dream?
- What role does fate play in The Great Gatsby?
- Is Gatsby a tragic hero? If so, why?
- How is The Great Gatsby an example of the “Lost Generation”?
- What role does the past play in The Great Gatsby?
- How do the relationships between men and women change throughout the novel?
- How is The Great Gatsby a commentary on the class divisions in American society?
- What role does morality play in The Great Gatsby?
- How do the characters in The Great Gatsby represent different aspects of the American dream?
- What role does money play in The Great Gatsby?
- Is Gatsby a sympathetic character? Why or why not?
- How is Nick Carraway’s role as narrator important to the novel?
- How does Fitzgerald use setting to comment on the characters and events in The Great Gatsby?
- What role do secrets play in The Great Gatsby?
- How is The Great Gatsby a commentary on the corruption of the American dream?
- What theme(s) are explored in The Great Gatsby?
These topics should provide any student assigned an essay on The Great Gatsby with plenty to write about. If you need further help, consider using or adapting one of these topics for your own paper.