89 The Great Gatsby : Best Topics and Examples

Looking for some creative titles for The Great Gatsby essay? There are many themes to explore about this novel. We offer you The Great Gatsby essay examples about symbolism, character analysis, the style of the novel, and many other topics.

📙 The Great Gatsby – Essay Writing Tips

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The Great Gatsby, the masterpiece written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, will help you dive into the Roaring Twenties’ wealth atmosphere. This is a story of a millionaire Jay Gatsby and his passion for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan

Your professor may ask you to analyze topics such as decadence, money, American Dream, or symbolism in your The Great Gatsby Essay. But what if you have no idea what to write? Well, below, you can find some tips and essay samples that you may use to compose your papers

Tip #1. Analyze symbolism in The Great Gatsby

First, let’s define what symbolism is. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, symbolism is “practice of using symbols, especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible using visible or sensuous representations.” The Great Gatsby story is full of symbols. And here are just two examples of them:

  • The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg painted on a billboard in the Valley of Ashes. You can find a lot of The Great Gatsby essay samples that draw the conclusion that Eckleburg represents God. However, let’s ask a few more questions. Why do these eyes have no mouth or arms, or legs? Does this mean that Eckleburg can only watch people transgressions without any ability to punish them as a God-like entity? Does this billboard mean anything?
  • Use of color in Fitzgerald’s story. If you carefully read the novel, you might notice the use of a few colors throughout the book. They are green, gray, gold, and yellow. Think, what do these colors can symbolize and represent these ideas in your paper.

Tip #2. Think about point of view in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is written in the first-person point of view. Nick Carraway, one of the main characters, tells us about the life and thoughts of Gatsby. In your writing, you can imagine how different the novel would be if it were told in the third-person point of view.

You also can provide some examples if the story was told from Gatsby’s perspective.

Tip #3. Assess how the book relates to the American Dream

If you look through the vast majority The Great Gatsby essay titles, you can find out plenty of samples that address the validity of high society or the social class divide. Gatsby had achieved the American Dream by building his wealth. However, he’s still not satisfied with the shallowness of the upper class and wants something more.

In your paper, you can argue why does one can never attain the American Dream, and why dreamers always want more.

Tip #4. Analyze the characters and their relations

Fitzgerald put each character into the novel for a particular reason. And your job is to analyze what they represent and why they are in the story. For example, Tom represents evil, while Daisy represents innocence. Another aspect you should examine is relationships between Daisy and Gatsby, Tom and Daisy, Nick and Gatsby.

Tip #5. Examine the tone of the novel

When we talk about the tone of the story, we mean how the author describes the events and characters. In your paper, decide what the tone of the novel is and analyze how it affects the readers’ attitude to characters and events.

Now, check The Great Gatsby essay examples below and use the acquired ideas to write your own paper!

  • Tom and Gatsby: Compare and Contrast Essay In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald pays attention to the relationships between both Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan and Daisy Buchanan. Scott Fitzgerald’s book is mainly focused on the relationship of Daisy with Gatsby and Tom, […]
  • Daisy Buchanan: “I Did Love Him Once, but I Loved You, Too” Another scene shows Daisy’s immoral behavior when she is in the room with Gatsby, Jordan, and Nick. This view shows Daisy’s lustful side in that she pushes Jordan to do the same and is out […]
  • Analysis of the Shirt Scene in “The Great Gatsby” Film Although the shirts mean nothing to Gatsby without Daisy, the audience watches Gatsby’s facial expression display a great deal of empathy and love whenever Daisy seems distressed, especially in this scene when she begins to […]
  • The Clock as a Symbol in “The Great Gatsby” By incorporating metaphorical elements that allude to the fleeting nature of time, “the Great Gatsby” emphasizes the idea of the futility of life and the inescapability of the past and its mistakes.
  • Silver & Gold: Color Symbolism in The Great Gatsby Although the color palette presented in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is rich, the problem of differing social status is most vividly described in the novel through the use of golden and silver colors that stand […]
  • Nick as the Narrator in The Great Gatsby Therefore, his connection with the Gatsby’s story is that he is depended upon to serve as the mouthpiece of the older generation as he metaphorically transcends through time to retell the Great Gatsby tale accurately […]
  • The Great Gatsby Reflection Paper Throughout the novel the major character Nick who was the narrator managed to bring out the main themes of the novel as well as developing other characters.
  • The Great Gatsby: Analysis and Feminist Critique The feminist critique is an aspect that seeks to explore the topic of men domination in the social, economic, and political sectors.
  • American Culture in the Novel “The Great Gatsby” In The Great Gatsby, Scott Fitzgerald documents these changes through an in-depth exploration of cultural changes such as the rise in consumerism, materialism, greed for wealth, and the culture of loosening morals in the 1920s […]
  • Daisy’s Character Study in “The Great Gatsby” The argument is that the author attempts to describe her as a pure and innocent female to ensure that the reader understands the perspective of Jay, but particular aspects of her true identity are revealed […]
  • The Great Gatsby and Winter Dreams by Scott Fitzgerald In this analysis, the researcher will try to confirm the argument that the Great Gatsby was a continuation of the Winter Dreams.
  • Gatsby & Nick in The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby is a novel of vibrant characters, and paradox is one of the main themes of the book. Even though Daisy and Tom are married, Nick agrees to help Gatsby be with the […]
  • The Great Gatsby All these characteristics of America during 1920 are evident and inherent in the main character, Jay Gatsby, in the novel The Great Gatsby. This is one of the themes in the novel The Great Gatsby.
  • The American Dream in The Great Gatsby After spending some time in this neighborhood, Nick finally attends Gatsby’s exuberant parties only to realize that Gatsby organizes these parties to impress Daisy, Nick’s cousin, and wife to Tom.
  • Why is Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby a Satire? Another aspect of satire in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is the wealth associated with Gatsby, as the reader observes in chapter two.
  • “The Great Gatsby” Film by Baz Luhrmann The Great Gatsby is a film that stars Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, Tom Buchanan, and the Southern Belle Daisy. The influence of the past comes out throughout the course of the film.
  • Female Characters in A Streetcar Named Desire & The Great Gatsby: Comparative It can be seen in the case of Stella and Daisy wherein in their pursuit of what they think is their “ideal” love, they are, in fact, pursuing nothing more than a false ideal that […]
  • Time as a Theme in The Great Gatsby The embodiment of these negative aspects comes in the form of Gatsby and his life, which in the end is seen as hollow and empty, just as the morals and values of the characters seen […]
  • “The Great Gatsby” by Scott Fitzgerald Who will take care of the dead creatures seems not to be in Tom’s order of what to bother him and together with the wife is comfortable enjoying their wealth while the creatures are rotting […]
  • Fairy Tale Traits in The Great Gatsby Basing on the several evident parameters, for instance, the character traits, the behavior of prince and princess, and gender distinctions amongst others, Fitzgerald’s masterwork stands out as a variation and sophisticated version of the fairy […]
  • “The Great Gatsby”: The American Dream in the Jazz Age The Jazz Age is a period in the history of the United States of America from the end of World War I to the beginning of the Great Depression due to the remarkable popularity of […]
  • Women’s Role in “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald Though the women in the novel are depicted as careless, treacherous, and selfish, the author uses them to underscore the power of the will to rebel against societal norms in pursuit of happiness.
  • The Corrupted American Dream and Its Significance in “The Great Gatsby” The development of the American dream and its impact on the society of the United States is a pertinent topic of discussion for various authors.
  • “The Great Gatsby” Novel by Francis Scott Fitzgerald However, what the reader should acknowledge is that the author manages to present a wholesome and clear image of the issues and occurrences that defined the United States throughout the 1920s.
  • The Dilemmas of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby is a story of a young man in the early twentieth century who seems to know what he wants in the way of that dream and what to do to achieve it.
  • Autobiographical Elements in “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The story is set during the roaring twenties, a period of significant social and cultural change, and it incorporates many of the author’s personal experiences, feelings, and perceptions of the time.
  • Architecture in “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald From this perspective, the case of Gatsby’s mansion is a symbolic call for leaving behind the anachronistic ideas of aristocracy and embracing American ideals.
  • Fitzgerald’s American Dream in The Great Gatsby & Winter Dreams To my mind, Winter Dream is a perfect example of the American Dream, since the main hero, Dexter, implemented each point of it, he was persistent and very hard-working, he was a very sensible and […]
  • The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald Review Gatsby’s dream to become wealthy to gain Daisy’s attention “is simply believable and is still a common dream of the current time”. However, Gatsby is the story’s main character and is a “personification” of the […]
  • Fertile Questions: “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald The two fertile questions arising from the novel are: what are political and economic impacts of the World War I? and what are the challenges faced by American students born from poor families post-World War […]
  • Impressions of “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald The contact between Gatsby and Nick is unique and consequently flavors the narrative. Global controversies such as depression are excluded from the narrative of hedonistic affluence and moral bankruptcy.
  • Tom and George in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby At the same time, the motives of Tom and George’s behavior differ due to their backgrounds, origins, and belonging to different social classes.
  • “The Great Gatsby Directed” by Baz Luhrmann This is due to the fact that the film is an indirect adaptation of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald’s book “The Great Gatsby”.
  • Jay Gatsby: The Great Fool or the Unfortunate Genius The main idea of the work is to show the unfairness of the fate of a poor young man who cannot marry the girl he loves.
  • Novel Analysis: The Great Gatsby and Siddhartha Hesse’s Siddhartha seems complementary to The Great Gatsby as Brahman, the main role in Siddhartha, finds contentment in self-realization and not in money, sensuality, and love.
  • Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ and the American Dream “The America Dream’ is a longstanding common belief of the American population that in the United States, people are free to realize the full potential of their labor and their talents and every person in […]
  • Characters in Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” The author presents challenges faced in the society as a result of the mixture racial and gender discrimination that a young black girl goes through in search of her dream and personal identity.
  • Greene’s “Our Man in Havana” and “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald It is imperative to realize that the purpose of the paper is not to carry out a critical analysis of the plays but to carry out a comparison of the attributes in which they relate […]
  • What Money Cannot Buy: ‘The Great Gatsby’ Book by F. S. Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby is a book that unveils the instrumental role of the social aspect of life among people; which not only concentrates on the economic part of it.
  • “The Great Gatsby” by Baz Luhrmann The filmmakers never stop depicting Gatsby’s wealth and his otherness. He throws money around and he is a topic of heated debates in the society.
  • First-Person Narrative in Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Joyce’s “The Boarding House,” Bowen’s “The Demon Lover” In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Joyce’s short story “The Boarding House,” and the Scottish poem The Demon Lover, the first-person narrative is used differently to achieve the authors’ objectives and create a comprehensive picture of […]
  • First-Person Narrative in Bowen’s ”The Demon Lover,” Updike’s ”A&P,” Fitzgerald’s ”The Great Gatsby” In this work, the unworked, repressed experience of the First World War is personified and embodied in the image of the ghost of a person who died in this war.
  • “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald: Betrayal, Romance, Social Politics and Feminism This work seeks to outline the role of women in the development of the plot of the book and in relation to the social issues affecting women in contemporary society.
  • Jay Gatsby, Jean Valjean and Henry Fleming: The Compare and Contrast Analyses of the Characters The way the characters of the main protagonists are revealed in the novel is one of the most important things in every piece of literature.
  • Alvarez’ “In the Time of the Butterflies” & Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” The shallowness, the injustice, the strive for wealth and power, brutality, and greed are the common themes, developed and explored in the books by Julia Alvarez “In the Time of The Butterflies” and by F.
  • Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” Jay Gatsby’s tragic flaw is related to his na ve way of thinking that implies his belief in the ability to buy true feelings.
  • ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ Literature Comparison Stella is a devoted wife struggling to make her marriage work, even though her husband Stanley, subjects her to a lot of pain and suffering.
  • The Great Gatsby’ by Scott Fitzgerald Literature Analysis This is one of the details that can be identified. This is one of the issues that can be singled out.
  • Political Satire in American Literature Scott Fitzgerald was one of the more famous satirists of the time, particularly in his production of the work The Great Gatsby.
  • The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald In the novel, the fictional village of West Egg is perhaps one of the key items that symbolize the life of the new millionaires in the city.
  • ‘The Great Gatsby’: Tom and Blanche Like Tom, Blanche in the book of Street Car Named Desire, is loyal to her sister who is the only member of her family that we come across.
  • Gatsby & Jean Valjean He is a mysterious person, and no one exactly knows his origins and the ways he used to acquire his fortune.
  • The Ethicality of an Action Jay Gatsby As well, an action is “wrong” if it results in the opposite of happiness to the people. Mill’s utilitarian theory can be used to assess the ethically of Jay Gatsby’s action, as presented in the […]
  • Babylon Revisited & The Great Gatsby: Motifs & Themes When he pleads his case to the guardians of Honoria, his sister-in-law Marion, and her husband, he continually evades his escapades of the past and recounts his hard work and sincerity of the present.
  • Francis Scott Fitzgerald & His American Dream In the novel “Tender is the Night,” Fitzgerald describes the society in Riviera where he and his family had moved to live after his misfortune of late inheritance.
  • Jay Gatsby & Eponine From Les Miserables: Compare & Contrast Gatsby is the main character in the book “The Great Gatsby,” while Eponine is one of the characters in the book “Les Miserables”.
  • Jay Gatsby & Gean Valjean: Characters Comparison This essay compares and contrasts the characters of Gatsby and Jean Valjean in the Les Miserable novels and films. Gatsby strikes the readers as a na ve and lovesick individual though his character is negative.
  • Jay Gatsby and Valjean in ‘Les Miserables’: Comparative Valjean’s life contains a series of misfortunes in the sense that he has to hide his true identity. Most of the people in his life were there just for convenience and for the fact that […]
  • The Idea of Love in The Great Gatsby and the Parallels or Contrasts That Can Be Drawn With the Presentation of Love in The Catcher in the Rye Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Jerome Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, it is possible to state that the notion of love is presented there similarly even though the texts are absolutely different and […]
  • What Destroyed Gatsby’s Dreams in “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald?
  • How Far Does “The Great Gatsby” Demonstrate a View of the American Dream?
  • What Is a Good Thesis Statement for“The Great Gatsby”?
  • What Is “The Great Gatsby” Main Message?
  • Is “The Great Gatsby” a Real Story?
  • How “The Great Gatsby” Is a Replica of America?
  • Why Is “The Great Gatsby” So Famous?
  • What Are the Four Major Themes in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • How Does “The Great Gatsby” Explore the Ideas of Illusion Versus Reality?
  • How Does “The Great Gatsby” Compare to the Life of Fitzgerald?
  • What Going From West to East Meant for the Characters in “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald?
  • How Does “The Great Gatsby” Portray the Death of the American Dream?
  • How Does Tom Buchanan Represent 1920’s Society in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • How and Why Does F. Scott Fitzgerald Use Nick Carraway as His Narrator of “The Great Gatsby”?
  • How New Money and Women Are Marginalized in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • What Part Does Social Class Play in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • What Makes “The Great Gatsby” a Classic?
  • Does Fitzgerald Condemn the American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • What Does the Green Light Symbolize in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • How Women Are Portrayed in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • What Techniques Does Fitzgerald Use to Convey the Main Themes in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • Why Did Fitzgerald Write “The Great Gatsby”?
  • How Does Nick Carraway Narrate “The Great Gatsby”?
  • What Is “The Great Gatsby” Actually About?
  • What Social Problems Are Exposed in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • How Multiple Incidents Develop the Plot Line in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • Does Money Buy Love in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • How Has Fitzgerald Used Cars as a Motif in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • Is “The Great Gatsby” Still Relevant Today?
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

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100+ Great Gatsby Essay Topics


Table of Contents

The Great Gatsby Essay Topics: Dive Deep into Fitzgerald’s World

When F. Scott Fitzgerald penned “The Great Gatsby,” he probably didn’t foresee the cultural phenomenon it would become. It’s not just a story about the Roaring Twenties, but a timeless exploration of ambition, love, societal pressures, and the ever-elusive American Dream. As students and literature enthusiasts, analyzing this classic novel can lead to intriguing insights.

What is a Great Gatsby Essay?

A “Great Gatsby” essay is an analytical or argumentative piece that delves into the themes, characters, symbols, and narrative techniques in Fitzgerald’s novel. From the opulent parties at Gatsby’s mansion to the faded eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg on a billboard, the novel offers a plethora of subjects ripe for exploration.

Guide to Choosing a Great Gatsby Essay Topic

When it comes to picking the perfect topic for your “Great Gatsby” essay, think about what fascinates you the most about the novel. Is it a particular character’s arc, a recurring symbol, or a central theme? Consider:

  • Your Passion : Choose a topic that genuinely intrigues you. This will make your writing process more enjoyable.
  • Relevance : If your essay has specific guidelines, make sure your topic aligns with them.
  • Scope : Ensure your topic is neither too broad nor too narrow. It should allow for a deep dive without overwhelming.

Great Gatsby Essay Topics Lists

Character analysis.

  • The evolution of Jay Gatsby: From James Gatz to the Golden Boy
  • Daisy Buchanan: A symbol of the American Dream or its victim?
  • The duality of Tom Buchanan: Aristocratic charm and brutish behavior
  • Jordan Baker: The modern woman of the 1920s
  • The tragic trajectory of George and Myrtle Wilson

Themes Explored

  • The decay of the American Dream
  • The superficiality of the Jazz Age
  • The role of wealth and class
  • The portrayal of love and obsession
  • Morality and corruption in the Roaring Twenties

Symbols and Motifs

  • The green light: Hope, dreams, and unattainable desires
  • The Valley of Ashes: Decay, despair, and the downtrodden
  • Dr. T. J. Eckleburg’s eyes: The omnipresent moral judgment
  • Cars in the novel: Symbols of status, freedom, and impending doom
  • East vs. West: The inherent tension and their symbolic meanings

Narrative Techniques

  • The reliability of Nick Carraway as a narrator
  • Fitzgerald’s use of color symbolism
  • The role of setting in character development
  • The significance of the title: Who is the “Great” Gatsby?
  • The structure of the novel and its impact on the narrative

Character Insights

  • The metamorphosis of James Gatz to Jay Gatsby: A self-made illusion
  • The allure and tragedy of Daisy Buchanan
  • Tom Buchanan: The embodiment of 1920s excess and entitlement
  • The enigmatic charm of Jordan Baker
  • George Wilson: A product of societal neglect
  • Myrtle Wilson’s desperate grasp for a luxurious life
  • Meyer Wolfsheim and the underworld of the Jazz Age
  • The subtle influences of Catherine, Myrtle’s sister

Exploring Central Themes

  • The ephemeral nature of the American Dream
  • Love versus obsession: Gatsby’s pursuit of Daisy
  • Moral decay in the heart of the Jazz Age
  • The consequences of unchecked ambition
  • Illusion vs. reality: The facades characters maintain
  • The societal clash: Old Money vs. New Money
  • The isolation and loneliness lurking beneath the parties

Symbols and Their Interpretations

  • The elusive green light and its manifold meanings
  • The Valley of Ashes: The grim face of industrialization
  • The haunting eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg
  • The significance of Gatsby’s lavish parties
  • The role of automobiles: Symbols of modernity and death
  • The shirts and materialism: Daisy’s emotional collapse

Narrative Techniques & Structure

  • Assessing Nick Carraway’s reliability as a narrator
  • Fitzgerald’s prose: A blend of poetic and prosaic
  • The non-linear timeline and its effects on suspense
  • The role of weather and its influence on the narrative mood
  • Foreshadowing in the novel: Predicting Gatsby’s downfall

Comparative Analyses

  • “The Great Gatsby” and the plays of Tennessee Williams: A study in Southern Gothic
  • Comparing Daisy Buchanan and Blanche DuBois
  • The Jazz Age in “The Great Gatsby” vs. “This Side of Paradise”
  • Comparing the tragedies of Jay Gatsby and Oedipus Rex
  • The portrayal of the American Dream in “The Great Gatsby” vs. “Death of a Salesman”

Societal Implications

  • The role of women in “The Great Gatsby”: Traditionalism vs. Modernism
  • Racism and xenophobia: The dark undertones of the Jazz Age
  • The impact of Prohibition on the characters and plot
  • Jazz music and its influence on the Roaring Twenties ethos
  • The disillusionment of World War I veterans: Gatsby’s hidden scars

Miscellaneous Topics

  • The significance of the Midwest vs. the East Coast
  • The influence of Gatsby’s father and his cameo in the novel
  • Analyzing the epigraph: Why “Then wear the gold hat”?
  • The role of minor characters in building Gatsby’s world
  • The cultural legacy of “The Great Gatsby” in modern media

Unraveling Relationships

  • Gatsby and Nick: A friendship built on admiration and intrigue
  • The love triangle: Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom
  • The tragic love affair of George and Myrtle Wilson
  • Tom and Myrtle: Lust, power, and socioeconomic dynamics
  • The nuanced relationship between Nick and Jordan

Behind the Illusions

  • The significance of Gatsby’s Oxford photograph and medal
  • The root of Gatsby’s wealth: Ill-gotten gains and their implications
  • The role of gossip and rumors in shaping perceptions
  • The real reason behind Gatsby’s infatuation with Daisy
  • The illusion of East Egg’s sophistication and its moral bankruptcy

Contextual Analysis

  • The influence of the Lost Generation on Fitzgerald’s narrative
  • The impact of the stock market and economic dynamics on the story’s backdrop
  • Jazz, flappers, and the cultural shifts of the 1920s
  • The role of organized crime and its influence on the novel’s events
  • The societal implications of prohibition in the Roaring Twenties

Deeper Dive into Symbols

  • The significance of the color yellow in the novel
  • Gatsby’s mansion as a symbol of his ambitions and insecurities
  • The motif of water and barriers in Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship
  • The broken clock during Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy
  • The juxtaposition of fire and water in the novel’s climax

Literary Legacy

  • The influence of “The Great Gatsby” on modern American literature
  • Adapting “The Great Gatsby”: Comparing the novel to its film adaptations
  • “The Great Gatsby” in popular culture: References, homages, and parodies
  • The continued relevance of “The Great Gatsby” in the 21st century
  • How “The Great Gatsby” reflects the cyclical nature of societal excess and downfall

Call to Action

Feeling overwhelmed? Our essay writing service at writeondeadline.com is here to help! Whether you need assistance in topic selection, research, or the entire essay, our team of experts can craft the perfect piece tailored to your needs.

Useful References:

  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald – Read the full novel for free on Project Gutenberg.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald and the American Dream – A deep dive into the author’s perspective on the American Dream.
  • The Roaring Twenties and The Great Gatsby – Understand the historical context of the novel.

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20 The Great Gatsby Essay Topics

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.

Citing Sources

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.

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.

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Essays About The Great Gatsby: Top 5 Examples and Prompts

The Great Gatsby is a classic American tale; if you are writing essays about The Great Gatsby, find interesting essay examples and writing prompts in our guide. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) revolves around a young man named Nick Carraway and his interactions with his New York neighbors, including the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. Throughout the novel, Gatsby attempts to rekindle his relationship with Daisy Buchanan, a cousin of Carraway’s; along the way, he is revealed not to be who he seems. The novel is regarded as a literary masterwork due to its profound exploration of love, social class, gender, and race, among other themes. As a result, it has developed into one of the most well-known ls of all time. 

If you need to write a good essay about The Great Gatsby , look at our featured essay examples below. 

1. The Great Gatsby – Really Great by Grace Nguyen

2. five reasons ‘gatsby’ is the great american novel by deirdre donahue, 3. “the great gatsby” color analysis by kurt medina, 4.  in defense of plot: an analysis of the tension in the great gatsby by aatif rashid.

  • 5. ​​Behind The Great Gatsby by William Peace

Top Writing Prompts on Essays about The Great Gatsby

1. how does the novel manifest the american dream, 2. the story behind the title, 3. compare and contrast, 4. how is new york city portrayed, 5. the great gatsby’s legacy, 6. the theme of race, 7. the theme of social class.

“Gatsby is the prime example of a person disregarding whatever morals he might have had, in order to pursue Daisy, his own personal American Dream. Consequently, his actions were reprehensible, not great. Gatsby also showed himself to be a generally dishonest person. Daisy

was married to a man named Tom. By trying to win her affections Gatsby is, in turn, adamantly trying to get Daisy to cheat on her husband.”

Nguyen writes about the novel’s titular character and how he changed himself so much for one person. This would be admirable if not because he was most enamored with Daisy’s rich life rather than her shallow character. From a working-class background, Gatsby acquired massive amounts of wealth through illegal means to match Daisy’s life, letting go of his morals to achieve his goals. In the end, Nguyen writes that Gatsby dies due to his deception. 

“One reason: It offers complicated characters who can be interpreted in fresh ways for new readers. Is Nick in love with Gatsby, as Greg Olear theorized on Salon? Could Gatsby — the other, the outsider — actually be a black man? Often dismissed as a selfish ditz, is Daisy victimized by a society that offers her no career path except marriage to big bucks?”

Donahue enumerates reasons for which The Great Gatsby is so highly regarded and considered the “great American novel.” These include an “American Dream”-type story, complex and exciting language, and most importantly, the unbelievable love story of Gatsby and Daisy. The millionaire is not motivated by greed but by love; however, he is in love with the idea of Daisy and the past in general rather than Daisy herself. 

“These colors connect the reader to the novel by making him see and feel the actual events and emotions a character has and not only an imaginative image. Gatsby’s example, which is full of lines rich of color imagery, makes the reader feel what he feels; sense what he senses; and try to be what he is. Gatsby’s figure is greatly shaped by this color imagery, validating and supporting the title of the book, colors show how great The Great Gatsby was.”

In his essay, Medina explains how Fitzgerald uses color symbolism to progress the plot and characters, using quotes from the novel as sources. For example, yellow represents Gatsby’s wealth, green symbolizes his greed and jealousy, and white symbolizes the pure, innocent idea he has of Daisy. Medina believes that these colors help readers connect more to the characters, making them feel what they feel and identify with them. 

“The central tension and conflict in the novel is not just whether Daisy will chose Gatsby or Tom but whether Nick will come to sympathize with Gatsby or not. And with this line, it’s clear that Nick does indeed sympathize with Gatsby. He realizes that old money Daisy and Tom are rotten, and that Gatsby is worth more than them. Human sympathy, thus, becomes more expansive than Nick had previously thought.”

Rashid starts off his essay by summarizing The Great Gatsby, then reveals how much of an impact tension has on the novel. Rather than the tension between Gatsby and Daisy, he believes that the tension lies in the extent to which Nick’s sympathy goes. He sympathizes greatly, going so far as to help invite people to Gatsby’s funeral (barely anyone comes, however). Rashid says this is emblematic of the “larger failures of society.”

5. ​​ Behind The Great Gatsby by William Peace

“Drawing on his own personal experience, Fitzgerald specialises in drawing characters who yearn to break into the ranks of the rich and powerful. Through his vivid depiction of the Wilsons, the unhappily married couple who run the gas station in Ash Valley, Fitzgerald captures the sense of life literally passing them by.”

Peace’s essay explores the background of Fitzgerald, the novel’s author, and how it inspired him to write it. He joined the army, fell in love with another wealthy woman named Zelda Sayre, and proposed to her; however, she rejected him, and he fell into despair. However, his later success led Zelda to accept him. Nevertheless, their relationship was rocky, as they struggled to sustain their extravagant lifestyle. Peace writes that the story, particularly the character of Daisy, is based on this period in his life. 

A significant reason for the novel’s status today is its reflection of the“American Dream” many desperately wish to achieve. Explain exactly what the American dream is and how it is represented in The Great Gatsby , particularly in the character of Gatsby. 

The title refers to Gatsby as “great”; the question is, is he truly deserving of this title? Analyze the character of Jay Gatsby, citing quotes from the novel and online sources, and determine whether you believe he is indeed “great” or not. Be sure to justify your response correctly; there is no wrong answer as long as it is well-supported. 

For your essay, compare and contrast any two characters from the novel. How are they similar? How are they different? What is their fate at the end of the story? Answer these questions in your essay and cite text evidence when analyzing a character. 

The Great Gatsby has also gained much notoriety due to its portrayal of New York City. Analyze the setting of the story and the way it is described- what is he trying to say about the city and its way of life? Compare Fitzgerald’s vision of the city to how it is seen today. 

The novel has left a longstanding impression on American literature and the world, having been adapted countless times. Write about why the novel has become a classic and how its legacy can be seen today in film, literature, television, art, and pop culture. What exactly has been its impact on society? Delve into this question in your essay to create an exciting piece of writing.

Being set in the 1920s, when racism was rife in society, The Great Gatsby is littered with racial prejudice. Discuss the presence of racism, particularly against Jewish people and African-Americans. Which characters show it? Who is the racism being subjected to? Answer these questions in your essay and use quotes to support your arguments.

Essays about The Great Gatsby

The theme of social class is prevalent in the novel. Write about how Fitzgerald views the social hierarchy of the 1920s based on the novel. Keep in mind the author’s background when writing; the book is primarily based on his own experiences. 

Tip: If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead. If you’re stuck picking your next essay topic, check out our guide on how to write an essay about diversity .

good essay titles for the great gatsby

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Topics for the great gatsby argumentative essay, dr. wilson mn.

  • August 1, 2022
  • Essay Topics and Ideas , Samples

When it comes to writing an argumentative essay , there are a lot of topics to choose from. However, if you’re looking for something on The Great Gatsby you might want to consider writing about one of the following Topics for The Great Gatsby Argumentative Essay

What You'll Learn

Possible Topics for The Great Gatsby Argumentative Essay

Is Nick a reliable or trustworthy narrator? How does his point of view affect the story?

Is the story of The Great Gatsby believable? Why or why not?

Where is the climax of the story? Explain your choice.

Are the characters in The Great Gatsby stereotypes? If so, explain why Fitzgerald used stereotypes in  the novel. If not, explain what makes the characters individuals.

What is the most essential symbol in the novel? What does it represent?

Analyze Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy.

Are Gatsby’s actions believably motivated? Explain why or why not.

What makes F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing style unique and/or effective?

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Compare and contrast various characters.

Explain how F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the minor characters–Owl Eyes, Mr. Wolfshiem, Pammy, Michaelis, and George Wilson–in the novel. What does each character add to the story?

Explain how the title, The Great Gatsby, is appropriate.

Why do Daisy and Tom stay together?

What does it mean to be wealthy? Do responsibilities come with money?

Does Gatsby’s money bring him happiness?

Interpret one of the novel’s key symbols (the green light, the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, the valley of ashes, etc.).

Suppose this novel had been written from Gatsby’s (or another’s) point of view. How would the story have changed?

Read a sample The Great Gatsby 46 Essay

Analyze each of the novel’s locations (West Egg, East Egg, the Valley of Ashes, and New York City), and explain how each corresponds to the social position, lifestyle, and personality of its residents.

What traits does Nick find admirable about Gatsby? What traits does he dislike?

Is The Great Gatsby an outdated novel, or is it relevant today? If it is relevant, what specific elements of current society does the book describe or explain?

What motivates Daisy, Myrtle, and Jordan? Is there a common thread?

Surprisingly, Tom Buchanan and George Wilson are actually similar in many ways. Be sure to focus on their attitudes toward women, their approach to violence, and their reactions to being cheated on.

How does Fitzgerald use weather in the novel?

How does the state of the current financial markets resemble the economic problems of the 1920s? How does Fitzgerald highlight and predict those problems?

Which characters are static and which are dynamic? Why did Fitzgerald choose to portray them this way?

In the final chapter, Nick describes Tom and Daisy as “careless people.” Are they? Are they each careless in their own way?

Explore ONE of the following themes: alienation, friendship, identity, the American Dream, materialism, corruption, fate, the past, love, hope, etc.

Additionally, feel free to explore your own topic regarding the novel. If you do so, please discuss the topic with me so I can help you verify that it is practical, as well as help you brainstorm how to proceed.

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Argumentative Essay Topics For The Great Gatsby

How The Novel “The Great Gatsby”, Examine Complex Ideas about Identity, others and The World

Essay Prompts: The Great Gatsby that was published in the year 1925 has been rated as one of the best fiction stories about American during its time. The Great Gatsby was written by one of the celebrated American Authors called F. Scott Fitzgerald.

A Comparison and Contrast of Tom and Gatsby

Essay prompts: Compare and contrast Gatsby and tom. how are they alike? how are they different? given the extremely negative light in which tom is portrayed throughout the novel, why might daisy choose to remain with him instead of leaving him for Gatsby?

Nick or Gates?

Essay prompts: The question pertains to The Great Gatsby story and actually it is more of Nick because he lists down all the attendees of the party that summer. The list includes all of the powerful and rich people in the nation.

Comparison of The Characters of Hamlet and Jay Gatsby

Essay prompts: Hamlet is the main character in the play “Hamlet,” the son of King Hamlet and Gertrude. He was brought up in the palace and his family was wealthy. Jay Gatsby, who is the main protagonist in the novel “The Great Gatsby” is different from Hamlet because he came from a humble background.

When it comes to writing an argumentative essay, there are a lot of topics to choose from. However, if you’re looking for something on The Great Gatsby you might want to consider writing about one of the following Topics for The Great Gatsby Argumentative Essay

The Great Gatsby and The American Dream

Essay prompts: The American dream is essentially dishonest in the Great Gatsby, where Gatsby rises from humble beginnings to be a wealthy man through dubious means. When compared to the ‘old money’ people like Tom Buchanan, who did not flaunt their wealth Gatsby, wanted recognition.

An Analysis Of Gatsby Based On Color Green

Essay prompts: The following analysis will focus on Gatsby as a character from the novel and the analysis will be based on color green.

You can also check out  150+ Top-Notch Argumentative Essay Topic Ideas

Write an Essay analyzing a character from The Great Gatsby, based on one of The colors associated with that character.

The Imagery of a Passage in Great Gatsby

Essay prompts: Scott Fitzgerald writes the book titled The Great Gatsby. It Is appropriate to conclude that Fitzgerald conveys both good and sinister qualities of Gatsby in the passage.

The Role of Women in The Great Gatsby

Essay prompts: The Great Gatsby is novel composed by Scott Fitzgerald around 1922 in New York. It is a love story, loss and scandal during the social unrest.  

The Impact Of The Social Context In Great Gatsby And Elizabeth Barrett Brownings Sonnets

Comparative Themes of Eiger Dreams and The Great Gatsby

Essay prompts: Eiger Dreams is a non-fiction book written from a collection of articles and essays based on rock climbing and mountaineering. It takes place in two different locations. One is the Swiss Alps, the other location is in Alaska (Krakauer, 2012).

The Great Gatsby: The Corrupt Nature of The American Dream

Essay prompts: The focus of this paper is on the nature of the American dream as depicted by Fitzgerald. Therefore, the withering of the American dream is the central thesis of this paper

The American Dream as portrayed in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald

Essay prompts: Fitzgerald has illustrated American dream by use of several characters to show how elusive the dream has been to some people whilst others are already living it.

How Trauma is Represented in Fitzgerald’s Work “The Great Gatsby”

Essay prompts: Trauma is a motif in The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald published in 1925. The novel narrates the tragic story of Jay Gatsby, who happens to be a millionaire in pursuit of the love of his youth, Daisy, which he lost while serving in the army.

Find out more on  How to Write a Narrative Essay

Best essay topics for the great gatsby

Social Constructs of The American Society on The Narrative “The Great Gatsby”

Essay prompts: The Great Gatsby is a narration about an individual struggling to create an identity for himself that will elevate his status to that of a wealthy man of stature and hence realizing his American dream that takes the form of a woman he so desires to marry.

Analysis of “The Great Gatsby”

Essay prompts: This is just one among many such examples that unravels how a man’s wealth would affect his relationship and social relations as a major theme throughout Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby”.

How would a man’s wealth affect his relationship and social relation?

Franklin’s Almanac: The Way to Wealth vs. The Great Gatsby

Essay prompts: The American dream is the notion that one can be anything they wish to be in the United States. Chance and opportunity are there for the taking, but these are limited to those willing to work hard, and set forth for what they believe.

Similarities between “The Great Gatsby” and The “Generation Wealth”

Essay prompts: We are going to discuss the similarities between “The Great Gatsby” and the film, “Generation Wealth”, while at the same time elucidating on the main theme of money.

Analysis of Fitzgerald use of language and symbolism in Gatsby

Essay prompts: The inability to win Daisy’s love undermines Gatsby’s success. That is why Fitzgerald’s writing language uses irony in explaining how impossible it was for Gatsby to achieve his dream.

Find out more on  Argumentative Essay Topics About Social Media [Updated]

Great Gatsby essay prompts

Masculinity in The Great Gatsby Novel

Essay prompts: Undergraduate Essay: Masculinity in The Great Gatsby Novel…

Gatsby Does Not Truly Love Daisy:

A Misunderstanding Of The American Dream Leads To The Tragedy Of Love

Essay prompts: The American Dream refers to the belief that everybody, disregarding their social class or birthplace, can achieve the success they dream of when living in a society that promotes upward mobility for everyone.

War Trauma in The Great Gatsby

Essay prompts: The casualties of war are not only those who fall on the battlefield but even those that walk away dead from the inside. In the Great Gatsby, the effects of war are felt through Jay Gatsby, who comes back from a different man. His war trauma is worsened by losing his love while he was at war.

The American Dream in The Great Gatsby and The House on Mango Street

Essay prompts: This paper will give invaluable insights concerning how the American Dream as an ideology has been presented in the Great Gatsby and The House on Mango Street.

Great Gatsby Quotes About Money Can’t Buy Happiness

Essay prompts: He quote money can’t buy you happiness is never truer than when viewed through the storylines of The Great Gatsby and Wolf of Wall Street. This conflicts with the notion that living the American dream translates to happiness.

How Manifestation and Materialism are Related to The American Dream

Essay prompts: This article seeks to draw on real-life examples as well as textual evidence to showcase how the American dream is closely associated with manifestation and materialism….

The Great Gatsby vs The Godfather

Love in Th Great Gatsby

Essay prompts: The idealized conception of love is one in which individuals are committed and faithful to each other unconditionally.

The Symbolism of Time in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Essay prompts: Time is of the essence, and it waits for no man. Therefore, humans should concentrate their minds on the present and neither dwell on the past nor dream about the future. In Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald explores the roaring twenties and their American dream. In this novel, the main character, Jay Gatsby.

Representations And Discourses Of The American Dream In Film

Essay prompts: The “American Dream” means that as long as the person starts working hard and follow their dream, thus it can lead to a better life. Equal opportunity is the soul of the “American Dream.”

Symbolism in The Great Gatsby and its significance in modern society

Essay prompts: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story, “The Great Gatsby,” has used symbolism depicting the city where the story is set. Further, the author has also used symbolism in representing individuals characters and Gatsby’s problems, among others.

The Futility Of Human Dreams: Independence

Essay prompts: The author successfully manages to show how we can dream in vain by demonstrating from the characters. George and Lennie dream of a better life full of freedom and independence.

Representation And Discourses Of The American Dream In Film

Essay prompts: The American Dream can be achieved by individuals who exercise hard work, independence, courage, determination, creativity, and diligence.

“Winter Dreams” and “The Great Gatsby” mirror into S Fitzgerald’s life

Essay prompts: These two novels have been widely read, and The Great Gatsby was even adopted into a movie. Often, people say that the story Winter Dreams was merely a draft for The Great Gatsby. The two are very similar and encompass similar themes.

If you're looking for something on the great gatsby, here are possible topics for the great gatsby argumentative essay

Comparison Between East Egg and West Egg

Essay prompts: The novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald is narrated by Nick Carraway, one of the main protagonists in the book. Nick lives in West Egg, a new village in New York with upcoming millionaires and billionaires.

Analysis Of Movies That Portray The American Dream

Essay prompts: The paper aims at discussing the American Dream by analyzing films that portray the accomplishment of the dream as well as the factors that make it difficult for individuals to achieve their version of the American Dream.

Representation and Discourses of The American Dream in Film

Essay prompts: This paper aims at conferring the American Dream by analyzing films which portray the accomplishment of the dream as well as the factors that make it difficult for individuals to achieve their version of the American Dream.

Why Economies Succeed or Fail during The Great Depression

Essay prompts: The Great Depression was an austere worldwide financial depression in the 1930s, starting in the United States. One major cause of the Great Depression was the ensuing global crisis. Europe had not settled after the First World War and faced severe consequences.

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The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

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.

The Great Gatsby Material

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The Great Gatsby Essays

Criticism, sympathy, and encouragement: depicting the american dream in 'the great gatsby' and 'enrique's journey' jessica wu 11th grade, the great gatsby.

The American dream, the belief that one will be able to achieve success through hard work and sacrifice, is an overly romanticized concept that people have been actively pursuing for decades. Many individuals set out in pursuit of their own idea...

Analysis of The Great Gatsby through the feminist theory Anonymous College

The aim of this paper is to write an analysis of The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald which was published in 1925. The first part of this essay is written based on a close reading. In the second part the feminist theory is applied to the...

The pride displayed by tragic heroes elevates them rather than diminishes them Karol Seroczynski 12th Grade

The idea that the pride displayed by tragic heroes elevates them rather than diminishes them can be proven in relation to Shakespeare’s “Richard II” and Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” In both texts the protagonists display a great deal of pride...

The Great Gatsby: The Repercussions of Private Events on Public Lives Alexandra Bayer College

Privacy is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as being the “quality or state of being apart from company or observation,” or “freedom from unauthorized intrusion.” The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald revolves around the theme of...

Foreshadowing Destiny Olivia Verma

<blockquote>[G]audy ... primary colors, and hair shorn in strange new ways, and shawls beyond the dreams of Castile. ... [T]he air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and...

The Eulogy of a Dream James Boo

The central theme of <I>The Great Gatsby</I> is the decay of the American Dream. Through his incisive analysis and condemnation of 1920s high society, Fitzgerald (in the person of the novels narrator, Nick Carraway) argues that the...

Materialism Portrayed By Cars in The Great Gatsby Joanna Cruz

"But as I walked down the steps I saw that the evening was not quite over. Fifty feet from the door a dozen headlights illuminated a bizarre and tumultuous scene (58)."

After the first of Gatsby's parties that Nick attends, Fitzgerald dedicates two...

Role of Narration in The Great Gatsby Steven Rice

Renowned author F. Scott Fitzgerald became "the most famous chronicler of 1920s America, an era that he dubbed 'the Jazz Age.'" (Phillips 1). His fame grew in part from his widely published short stories, and also from the art of his novel, The...

A Great American Dream Jens Shroyer

The Great Gatsby and "Babylon Revisited," both by F. Scott Fitzgerald, are stories about the emptiness and recklessness of the 1920s. Each story has its distinctions, but Fitzgerald's condemnation of the decade reverberates through both....

Restless in West Egg Anonymous

To many Americans, wealth and happiness are inextricably intertwined. After all, the democratic ideals of our country are predicated on the notion of the âself-madeâ? man. Ironically, it is sometimes the striving for wealth or the striving for...

The Death of a Dream Martha E. Andrietti

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is regarded as a brilliant piece of literature that offers a vivid peek into American life in the 1920's. The central characteristics of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920's society are shown through the decay...

The Fall of the American Dream Josh Weiss

The figurative as well as literal death of Jay Gatsby in the novel The Great Gatsby symbolizes a conclusion to the principal theme of the novel. With the end of the life of Jay Gatsby comes the end of what Fitzgerald views as the ultimate American...

Jay Gatsby's Representation of America Josh Weiss

It was literary critic Lionel Trilling who quite aptly described the collective entity Jay Gatsby when he wrote, "Jay Gatsby [stands] for America itself." Jay Gatsby lives his life entrenched in unfathomable wealth. His true roots are rather...

Decay of American Greatness Michael Jin

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a shining example of the principle that the most powerful messages are not told but rather shown. Although the novel is written in the form of largely impartial narration by Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald's...

Through A Lens, Darkly: The Use of Eye Imagery to Illustrate the Theme of an Extinct God in The Great Gatsby Anonymous

Throughout history, the eye has always been an emblem of the deities. In the Egyptian pantheon, there is Horus, god of light, who is signified by his famous Eye; in the Roman pantheon, there is Juno, associated with the many-eyed peacock; and in...

Obsession Anonymous

In his book The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald explores the psychology of love's fantasies and realities through the character of Jay Gatsby. During their five-year separation, Gatsby pines for his love, Daisy Buchanan, rearranging his entire...

Daisy and Her Men: Analysis of Character in The Great Gatsby Ashley Smith

Throughout literature, there are countless characters whose only positive attributes seem to be the fact that they are utterly detestable - the reader loves to hate them. From Shakespeare's conniving Iago to Dickens' endlessly cruel Estella, these...

The African American Dream B. L. Fox

Social class plays a dominant role in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. In fact the title character is living proof that the American dream really exists. Readers recognize the importance Fitzgerald places on social class throughout the...

The Shift From Realism to Modernism Anonymous

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good essay titles for the great gatsby


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It is not easy to create an essay about Gatsby, I confirm this, and I am going to share my experience with my readers. If you are required to make the great Gatsby essay, this guide will be helpful. I am a student, so I understand you well how you feel: you know about the assignment and cannot understand how to start. Yes, I was in your shoes and you should feel free to use my experience, and I hope that you will spend less time on your work than I did. I recommend reading the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald . Yes, you may say that you watched a movie but I assure you that it is different. It is great if you watched a famous movie about Gatsby with a great actor Leonardo DiCaprio but try to read the book! Believe me, it is a big difference between the book and movie as in the book, you can find much more details and descriptions that are skipped in the movie. Make sure you have received all detailed instructions from your teacher. I didn't think it is so important until I started to work on my essay and got some questions so I spent a lot of time trying to understand what to do. Eventually, I lost my hope, and I accidentally opened the requirements given by my teacher and found answers to all the questions I had. Funny, isn't it?  

How to Start the Great Gatsby Essay?

How to start an essay ? I guess this is the most popular question students have after they get this assignment and as I already mentioned before, your first step is to read the book. I suggest taking a pencil and paper and taking some notes during reading. It will help you to structurize everything better, plus you will be able to find some citations to use in your future essay much easier. At the beginning of your work, you have to make a good plan. Yes, like the most of the students, I hate planning, but they say it is the only way to fulfill the assignment within a deadline. So, count how many days you have, and make your own detailed plan of writing. Needless to say, every student may have their individual plan depending on their skills. It is my own plan:  

  • Reading a book (with notes) - 2 days
  • Choosing a good topic and brainstorming all my ideas - 1 day
  • Writing my work (approximately 1000 word essay ) - 3 days
  • Proofreading the finished paper - 1 day.

You can count easily - I spent around a week to create my own document. I spent more days because I lost a lot of time trying to find answers to questions that were just in my hands! It means you will need about 8-10 days to create a great work. I know some students practice writing their academic papers on the last night, and this is a very bad idea. All you can get is just a low grade.

Tips on Selecting the Great Gatsby Essay Topics

It is great when your teacher provides you with a list of interesting themes to write your great Gatsby essay. Sometimes, students have to choose their own topics. I appeared in the second situation, and I had to surf the Internet to find the great Gatsby essay topics. I found around 10 topics that turned my attention, and later selected one. Here is the list:

  • Was Gatsby in love with Daisy or he was deeply in love only with an idea of her?
  • In what ways Jay Gatsby is great. Does he deserve to be called great?
  • Symbolism in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel “The Great Gatsby”.
  • A movie based on the book The Great Gatsby.
  • American dream essay in the novel The Great Gatsby.
  • How the writer shows the contrast between poor and rich?
  • The idea of the American Dream in Fitzgerald's novel.
  • Who can be blamed for the death of Gatsby?
  • The concept of happiness and wealth in The Great Gatsby.
  • Does love mean something in The Great Gatsby?

Hints on Creating a Successful Paper Without a Headache

From my own experience, it is not so hard to structure your work properly; these are the main steps I took:

  • I divided my work into three main paragraphs: the introduction, main part, and conclusion;
  • I used essay transition words to tie together paragraphs of my paper;
  • I wrote a detailed outline of the future document. At the start, it seemed to me just a waste of time, but it was helpful!
  • When I have finished the paper, I proofread it thoroughly to find mistakes. If honestly, I am not strong in grammar, so I used Grammarly software to check and correct errors.

How to Find the Great Gatsby Essay Examples?

When you are going to write a paper, reading successful examples can help you to find your own ideas and thoughts on how to create your paper. I spent some time searching the great Gatsby essay examples on the Internet and I did find some good examples that turned my attention. It is a sample I want to share with my readers. F. Scott Fitzgerald in his novel, The Great Gatsby shows us the American dream from different perspectives. We meet Jay Gatsby - a man who follows his dream too hard and is unable to understand his life of riches is false. In the novel, the author shows to us how crazy the desire of power and wealth is, how Jay destroys himself. Jay Gatsby truly believes his money makes him great. The man believes he could get anything he wants with his money. Gatsby even tries to fix his failures from the past with it. Gatsby tries to “buy” the love of Daisy who is obsessed with wealth and power just like him. Gatsby attempts to get anything to satisfy his desires, but he can't find happiness in his money. Gatsby loses the sense of his life. This is true - if a human can't reach happiness, the whole life seems boring and empty. Jay Gatsby's fate eventually was destroyed by money and power he always wished for. This story shows us the Jazz Age period in the United States, and the author portrayed all events and characters with detail and elaboration. Nick Carraway who just moved to New York, becomes neighbors with mysterious and rich Jay Gatsby who grabs readers' attention from the beginning. With Daisy Buchanan character, Fitzgerald shows us people of that time were seeking the American dream. Daisy cheats her husband with rich Gatsby because she loves money and luxury things. This behavior evokes negative emotions in readers and gives a lot of food for thoughts if to try to compare modern Americans and their values with those described in the book. Fitzgerald defines the American dream as a strong desire for imperialism and individualism. Though this dream is distorted, it's like Jay's dream to be with Daisy who betrays her lovely husband just because of her desire for money, luxury, and splendor. With this novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald wanted to create something extraordinary but simple. The book grabs your attention from the beginning and keeps in tension until the end. We don't like Daisy, Gatsby or even Nick but we are deeply involved in the book because the author succeeds to grab readers' attention. He showed us people can be so much empty and lonely that they are unable to find their dream and they even push it away when they finally move to it. Such a short story, but it's full of dreams and desires. I truly hope my experience was helpful. Writing is hard work, and it is worth the result. Feel free to use my advice or delegate this essay to StudyCrumb  to get a high grade!  


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.

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Richard Marriott English

English Lecturing and Tutoring

The Great Gatsby Sample Essay

good essay titles for the great gatsby

This sample essay demonstrates the full range of A-level skills needed to meet the assessment objectives at the highest level.

“They’re a rotten crowd.” I shouted across the lawn. “You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” How does Fitzgerald convey a “rotten crowd” in The Great Gatsby and to what effect?

“Rotten” describes a state of putrefaction. It is a word we apply to decomposing fruit, fruit that is over-ripe, decaying and which, close-up, stinks. What a brilliant word to convey the decaying civilisation of post-war Europe and America that surrounds Gatsby – and repulses his friend, Nick – shocking him into moral awareness.

It is primarily through the moral judgements of his narrator, Nick Carraway, – the character that goes East to make money only to retreat revolted by the moral, cultural and social rottenness that he finds among the moneyed classes he wished to join – that Fitzgerald presents his “rotten crowd.” Through Nick, Fitzgerald exercises his narrative art with extraordinary compression: cultural allusion and symbolic names and images are central to his method – underpinning the actions of his characters – so too a poet’s feel for the sound and connotations of words.

Fitzgerald’s allusive method brilliantly conveys the rottenness of Gatsby’s crowd. Names, and names of books allude to a rotten world. Relationships in the East are rotten and infect the outlying members of the great Carraway dynasty: Nick’s second cousin twice removed is married to a philanderer; already unfaithful on honeymoon, we find him in the second chapter introducing Nick to his mistress. Now, the great Gatsby himself has been no monk (he ‘knew women early’ (82) Nick tells us, momentarily picturing a proud and promiscuous young Gatsby), but in pursuing Daisy, he pursues more than sex: he wishes to attain a higher state of being – to ‘romp with the mind of God,’ to ‘gulp down the milk of wonder.’ Romping and gulping suggests a child’s wide-eyed amoral appetite for unbounded satisfaction. Tom’s rottenness, his sexual corruption, then is apparent by contrast with the sublime, high-minded aspirations of the man who would cuckold him. Taking then, Nick, to the apartment where he conducts his affair, Tom leaves Nick while he and Myrtle both disappear – presumably to the bedroom – before reappearing after Nick has had time to ‘read a chapter’ of Simon Called Peter . A chapter-read is an innovative way to measure the length of a human coupling and perhaps degrades (reveals the rottenness of) Tom’s relationship in its brevity (or in its longevity, reveals the rotter luxuriating in his sin) – but more importantly, it is through the title of the book that Fitzgerald reveals the rottenness of this crowd. Robert Keable’s 1922 best-seller records the career of an earnest young clergyman, Peter Graham who volunteers as an army chaplain in the First World War. His faith fails to sustain him on the path of righteousness and he abandons his nice middle class fiancée, Hilda, for the generous charms of a prostitute and a generation of young women whose sexual freedom is more aligned to the Myrtles of Gatsby than the prim propriety of Hilda and the Edwardian England Peter has left behind. However, Peter is not simply a lost cause to the church, he is disillusioned with its teachings and with human nature, the sexual freedoms and easy pleasures of the war generations seem to him more real, more essentially human than the morality he preached from the bible. The novel, condemned in his review as ‘immoral’ by Fitzgerald, is seriously concerned with what war reveals of essential human nature: its immorality, its pessimism lies in its disillusion with love. Fitzgerald’s Gatsby holds on to his aspirations, his faith in the possibility of transcendence through love, despite the hardships of his (quickly overcome!) poverty. It is perhaps only through the contrast with Keable’s response to war that we can appreciate the extraordinary hope implicit in Fitzgerald’s, in his faith in the higher callings and aspirations of the human heart. It would be interesting to know if Fitzgerald had a particular chapter in mind that “didn’t make any sense to [Nick].”

Thus, almost passing reference to a contemporary novel, is fraught with much meaning. The use of a character’s reading material to shape and create meaning is a familiar part of the novelist’s art: think Austen’s Catherine Morland, gently mocked by her author for her indulgence in The Mysteries of Udolfo and the power it has over her imagination. This allusive method is not surprising in Fitzgerald: it is the foundation of Eliot’s “The Waste Land” –a poem Fitzgerald knew by heart, written in the year he sets his Gatsby . In it, the morality, the spiritual condition, of one generation is measured against representative cultural fragments from earlier civilisations.

Fitzgerald is similarly wide-ranging in his frame of reference to convey his “rotten crowd,” alluding to contemporary novels and events as well as ancient texts. Take the casual naming of just one party-goer for example: Ismay. Ismay is collected up as part of a group: “the Ismays and the Christies.” Perhaps Fitzgerald has in mind Bruce Ismay, Managing Director, of the White Star Line and held to blame for the greatest shipping disaster of all time: the loss of the Titanic in 1912; he was J Brute Ismay to the press at the time. He was rumoured to have put pressure on the Chief Engineer to drive the ship faster for a record time for the Atlantic Crossing and was himself a survivor. Newspaper cartoons showed him watching the ship sink from the safety of a lifeboat whilst the true “women and children first” heroes stood facing death on the doomed ship. So, Ismay comes to represent the selfish, self-serving rottenness of Fitzgerald’s contemporary society and the inversion of its moral values.

Ismay is among the first of the East Eggers on Nick’s famous list that helpfully divides the party guests into two according to the Egg whence they arrive: East Egg is the old money (Jesmond) in our local terms; West Egg is new money (we think Darras Hall). The West Eggers are “all connected with the movies in one way or another.”  So one “controlled films Par Excellence” another is a “promoter” (and at the Chapter VI party we meet “the moving-picture director and his Star” (89)). In contemporary – and non-party political terms we find in West Egg the New Labour celebrity culture of film stars, pop stars, and fashion designers as well as the stalwart Old Labour of the Trade Union movement meeting at Blair’s parties: it would be a mistake to believe either group is any more free from corruption than Gatsby’s guests.  Fitzgerald’s crowd fills up the “empty spaces of a timetable” (52) that is now out of date. And their “gray” names assigns them to the ash heaps of The Valley of the Ashes – where the detritus of a dead civilisation is dumped.

The whole list in its conception is a brilliant tribute to writers of the past: “the Prince of something, whom we called Duke, and whose name, if ever I knew it, I have forgotten” concludes the roll with a wonderful contempt for empty title (“of something”) and undeserved respect (“whom we called”). The forgotten name that concludes his portrait echoes Chaucer’s final valediction on his Merchant:

For sothe (truly) he was a worthy man with alle, in every way But, sooth (truth) to seyn, I noot (= ne woot, don’t know )how men hym calle.

“I noot how men hym calle,” he is in other words unworthy of name or remembering. Of all writers, Chaucer is so especially concerned with a man’s worth, (the word is used ironically in the quotation above) his worthiness, the parity between the inner and the outer man. The choice of the Merchant is apt: he represents financial rottenness, self-serving material greed.

The last line of all in Nick’s guest list, “All these people came to Gatsby’s house in the summer,” in its obvious summing up of what we already knows echoes Homer’s method in the famous muster of the armies at the beginning of The Iliad , (e.g. “These were the men whom Amphimachus and Nastes brought.”). The very idea of remembering each with some anecdote of their deeds is again Homeric – but how unedifying their deeds: fighting with bums, drunk on the gravel, arriving with another’s wife, run over by Mrs. Ulysses Swett. The name Ulysses is enough to point us to our Homer. This “rotten crowd” is mocked in comparison to the Greek Heroes of the great ancient civilization of the past: the one at its heroic zenith, the other at its rotten nadir.

Plenty of food then for scholars wishing to track down all these names and associations. Ulysses Swett is in fact a real person (born 1868) and a member of the famous Swett family of Cape Cod who traced themselves back through thirteen generation. However, the names have an immediate, not just a scholarly impact. Swett (homophone for a squalid bodily function) is allied with Belcher (the, what, shamelessly, insolent expulsion of stomach gas through the mouth?– usually avoided because of the bad smell) and Smirke (the silent mocking laugh) – all aspects of our base corporeal rather than spiritual natures.

Worse are the animal names: Blackbuck, Roebuck, connoting both money (buck=dollar) and animal sexuality (a buck is a male deer – like the word ‘tup’ we make the gender distinction usually to refer to sexual behaviour). The name ‘Blackbuck’ perhaps evokes Tom’s fear of the Rise of the Colored Empires , of the sexual potency of black races according to popular myth and also a fear of the black dollar, of black wealth as a part of rising black supremacy. So the names have a resonance that goes beyond the animals and fish they denote (Beluga, Whitebait, Hammer Head – it is easy fit them into a taxonomical classification). It is fun to learn from Wikipedia that the Beluga whale has a ‘high-pitched twitter.’ Such information adds another dimension to our own imagined constructions of Gatsby’s party crowd. But the name itself seems ugly. Is it because it has the consonants of the word ‘ugly’ in it? Or because, as we search to make sense of an unfamiliar word, our brains try out the word ‘bulge’ through the association of sound and thus evoke some ungainly swollen creature, some ulcerous tumescence of money and immorality. Is there something belchy in the sudden release of air in the second vowel sound, Bel u ga? And that is before we think about the associations with caviar and the untouchable luxuries of the war-time rich.

And then there are the Hammerheads: another wonderfully evocative name. What rottenness does this conjure? A family of boneheads. The Hammerhead Shark has evolved an elongated and flattened skull perhaps for the manipulation of prey – nice associations there. It also contains the idea of the tool after which the shark is named, the hammer, blunt bludgeoning instrument. Picture it here in the hands of one of Gatsby’s bootlegging cronies, crushing the skull of some unfortunate prey. Hear in its sounds, the repeated glottal fricatives, (‘ Ha mmer hea d’) the heavy breathing of the hammer-wielder exerting himself in the act of skull-crushing.

There is a poetry in this carefully constructed mock epic that delights in the cultural allusion, in the connotative capacity and the phonological features of words to express the sheer rottenness of this crowd.

Fitzgerald offers a wide, but not comprehensive, survey of the animal kingdom to convey his rotten crowd: in all this verminous, predatory, bestial crowd there is not one airborne, flying creature. There are fish aplenty as well as the semi-aquatic rodent, Ernest Beaver and the tree dwelling Doctor Webster Civet , who despite his airy habitat “drowned last summer.” James B. (“Rot-Gut”) Ferret take his name from the domesticated earth-burrow dwelling carnivorous mammal. All three (beaver, civet, ferret) are noted for scent glands, genital or anal: in the wild, they pollute the air to mark territory; killed, they are used for perfume. The point is of course that Fitzgerald’s elemental imagery portrays Gatsby’s aspirations to transcend mortal bounds as an aspiration to fly. Daisy is associated with air, floating, fluttering, anchored like a balloon. Gatsby aspires to her airiness which lifts her among other things, ‘above the hot struggles of the poor.” (122) He is condemned, through Fitzgerald’s imagery to death by water: he is shot in a swimming pool, to be buried in “soggy ground” (142). The moment is foreshadowed at Nick’s tea-party reunion: Gatsby stands “in a puddle of water glaring tragically” (72). Fitzgerald’s rotten crowd is an earth-bound water-dwelling crowd and they drag Gatsby down to his watery death and earthy resting place. Their very names make the air he breathes stink.

This crowd perhaps constitutes the ‘funny fruits’ (103) of New York of a civilisation that has, in Spenglerian terms, (Oswald Spengler, The Decline of Civilization – the book Fitzgerald never recovered from when writing Gatsby) organically outgrown itself, lost touch with the nature that feeds it to produce the cities, and city folk, this ‘rotten crowd’ that are its fruit. And Fitzgerald’s judgement reveals Nick’s growth to moral understanding – he too will reject the wealth of the East, its money, machines and rottenness to nurture the reputation and aspirations of Jay Gatsby, seeking his flower, his Daisy Fay, who, in his imagination (according to Nick) represents the green breast of an earlier, rural America. For Nick, in Gatsby, found an incarnation of the Faustian legend (there was indeed a Faustina O’Brien –a diminutive and corrupt mini-Faust on that party-list (53)), of man’s desire to transcend the bounds of his mortality and the rottenness of his world.

Richard Marriott English

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Book Guides


Most often, your first sense of a book is your reaction to its title. The best titles make novels sound mysterious, exciting, or interesting, attracting readers. Well-chosen titles also give readers a sense of what they can expect to find within the pages of the book.

At the same time, a title is usually an author’s way of declaring what is and isn’t important in the book. A title can reflect a work’s theme or focus, pointing out the right frame of mind for reading.

So how does the title of The Great Gatsby work? What is it showing us about the book that we are about to read - and how does our understanding of the title shift as we make our way through the story? Is Gatsby really great?

In this article, I’ll dissect the different meanings of this title and explain the other titles that Fitzgerald was considering when he was writing the book .

What Can We Learn From The Title of The Great Gatsby ?

In order to really explore the ways that this title reflects the novel, let’s first cut it into its parts, and then consider them back to front.

The Title Features the Name of a Character

Usually, when a novel is titled with the name of one of the characters, that either means that we’re about to read a biography or that the named person is the main character (for instance, Jane Austen’s Emma or J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter ).

So, here, the fact that “Gatsby” is in the title shows us that the focus of the story will be on him . In this case, this focus goes both ways. The novel is biographical, meaning, the novel is the story of Gatsby’s life. But also, Gatsby is, in fact, the protagonist of the story. It’s helpful for the title to show us this, since in this book the first-person narrator turns out not to be the main character.

Great? Great! Great.

Now let’s investigate four possible readings of the second part of the title, which all depend on the meaning of the word “great.”

1. Shallow and Straight-Faced

This version takes “great” as a straightforward compliment , meaning “wonderful.” In this version, Gatsby is great because he is the richest, coolest, handsomest dude, who drives the best car and throws the most banging parties. In this take, the title means total admiration: Gatsby is nothing but greatness. This reading of the title applies best in the beginning of the novel, when Gatsby is all mysterious rumors, swirling success, and unimaginable luxury, and when Nick is in his thrall.

2. Mocking and Ironic

On the other hand, we could be dealing with the “oh, that’s just great.” version of this word . As we - and the novel’s characters - learn more about Gatsby, the initial fascination with him turns into disappointment. In this reading, the “great” turns bitter. In reality, Gatsby’s money comes from crime. His parties, house, and material wealth don’t make him happy. He’s a moral bankrupt who is chasing after a married woman. And he hates his real self and has created a whole new fake persona to live out a teenage fantasy. This reading of the title works when Gatsby seems like a sad, shallow shell of “greatness” – he’s like a celebrity brand with no there there.

3. Deep and Soulful

Another possibility is that “great” here means “intense and grand.” After all, even though Gatsby is a hollow shell of a man who’s propped up by laundered money, Nick firmly believes that he stands head and shoulders above the old money set because everything Gatsby does, he does for the truest of true love. Nick, who starts out being on the fence about Gatsby, comes to think of his love for Daisy as something that elevates Gatsby. For Nick, this love marks Gatsby as the only one who matters of all the people he met during that summer ("They're a rotten crowd....You're worth the whole damn bunch put together" (8.45)).

4. Theatrical

The final possibility is that this “great” sounds like the stage name of a magician (like “The Great Cardini,” master card illusionist). This version of Gatsby is also completely fitting: after all, he literally transforms into a totally different man during the course of his life. And, it wouldn’t be the last time that the novel was interested in the way Gatsby is able to create a spectacle, or the way he seems to be acting on a stage rather than actually living. For example, Nick says Gatsby reminds him of a “turbaned ‘character’ leaking sawdust at every pore” (4.31), while one of Gatsby’s guests compares him to David Belasco, a famous theater producer (3.50).

The Title Is a Timeline

So which of these versions is the correct one? All of them. One of the interesting things about this novel is that the title’s meaning shifts depending on how far we’ve read, or how much time we’ve spent reflecting on what we’ve read, or what we ultimately choose to believe about Gatsby’s motivations  and driving ambition. Which version of the “great” Gatsby appeals to you?


Famous Alternate Titles

Did you know that Fitzgerald actually was not a huge fan of the title The Great Gatsby ? It was pushed on him by Max Perkins, his editor, who was facing a deadline (and probably by his wife Zelda as well). 

Fitzgerald had a list of titles he actually preferred to this one, and each of them reveals something about the novel, or at least about Fitzgerald’s sense of what the novel he wrote was all about.

Unlike the actual title the novel ended up with, the alternate titles vary in how zoomed in they are onto Gatsby. Let’s go through them to see what they reveal about Fitzgerald’s conception of his work.

Trimalchio , or Trimalchio in West Egg

This was Fitzgerald’s favorite title - it’s what he would have named his book if Max Perkins hadn’t interfered to say that no one would get the reference.

Perkins may have been right. Trimalchio is a character in The Satyricon , a book by the Ancient Roman writer Petronius. Only fragments of this work survive, but basically, it’s a satire that mocks Trimalchio for being a nouveau riche social climber who throws wildly elaborate and conspicuously expensive dinner parties (sound familiar?).

Trimalchio is arrogant and vulgar and very into displaying his wealth in tacky ways. In the fragment we have, Petronius describes one party at length. It ends with the guests acting out Trimalchio’s funeral as an ego-boost.

It’s important to note that in The Great Gatsby , Fitzgerald does refer to Gatsby directly as Trimalchio at one point: "...as obscurely as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over" (7.1). Since T he Satyricon is a satire, this alternate title suggests Fitzgerald originally wanted to present Gatsby as a figure to be mocked rather than to appear more grand/mysterious. This attitude towards the novel’s main seeker of the American Dream  paints Gatsby’s ambition to join elite society in an even darker and less flattering light than the novel does now.

Among The Ash Heaps and Millionaires , or On The Road To West Egg

These titles pan out, away from Gatsby and toward the geographic, social, and economic environment of the book . Both of these titles do this by giving us a sense of being between things, primarily the places with money and those without . Character-wise, these titles seem more Nick-focused, since he is the one who shows us the differences between these two worlds. 

Also, by referring to the physical space that separates Manhattan and the Long Island towns where the wealthy live, both of these titles directly reference the book’s climactic death, which takes place on the road back to West Egg, right at the place where the richly symbolic valley of ashes is.

Gold-Hatted Gatsby , or The High Bouncing Lover

These rejected titles are both references to the epigraph that opens the book :

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!”


Thomas Parke D'Invilliers is a secondary character in Fitzgerald’s semi-autobiographical first novel, This Side Of Paradise . In the novel, D’Invilliers is a poet who befriends the main character and whose poetry seems never to reflect the darker realities of life.

The poem gives advice to a lover who is willing to go to desperate lengths to get the woman he is interested in to return the feeling (again, sound familiar?). A title based on this poem would place the novel’s emphasis squarely on Gatsby’s longing for Daisy , reorienting our sense of Gatsby as a striver to his function as a love interest.

Under The Red, White, and Blue

Rather than referencing any part of the book - a character, a place, or even an idea - this title instead broadens the reader’s perspective to a patriotic or nationalistic view of the United States. The effect is that we could easily be looking at a war story, or some political tract - there is simply nothing in this title that gives us any sense of what the underlying novel might be about. 

If Fitzgerald had gone with this title, we would read this novel much more squarely as a more direct indictment of America, or at least the myth of the American Dream . This is certainly one of the enduring themes of the novel, but since Nick ends up contrasting the midwest and the east coast’s totally different ideas about success and the American Dream, this title would actually dilute Fitzgerald’s disapproval by making all of the U.S. complicit.


The Bottom Line: Is Gatsby Great?

  • The title is the reader’s first encounter with a book, which means it usually declares the focus or theme of that book.
  • The Great Gatsby is a title that can be read
  • Straightforwardly, as a declaration of Gatsby as a man who actually achieved the American Dream
  • Ironically, since Gatsby’s greatness is a hollow sham and he is an amoral striver
  • As a measure of the depth of his inner life
  • As a stage name of sorts for Gatsby’s great performance of “upper-class WASP”
  • Fitzgerald wasn’t particularly happy with the name and instead was considering
  • An allusion to Trimalchio, which would link Gatsby to another famously vulgar new-money guy
  • Titles that focused more on the geography of the novel’s climactic scene
  • A broad American flag reference that calls into question the American Dream

What’s Next?

Learn  why The Great Gatsby  begins the way it does  - with a poem written by Fitzgerald himself, but disguised as the work of someone else.

Analyze the character traits of Jay Gatsby  to see which meaning of the word “great” really applies.

Investigate the key themes pointed to by the various alternate titles : the American Dream  and unrequited love .

Read our summary of  The Great Gatsby , and find links to our many other  Great Gatsby  analysis articles.

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Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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