03 Nov 2008

Essays on The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby,” written during the era between World War I and The Great Depression of the 1930s, was a social commentary novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald who sought to question the paradox of economic prosperity versus the rapid decline of morality during the 1920s. The United States was experiencing a massive post-war economic rally, but was plagued by the growth of organized crime, cultivated by the rebellious resistance to the Eighteenth Amendment’s mandated prohibition on alcoholic beverages.

The Great Gatsby focuses on the mysterious individual known as Jay Gatsby and the climate and events surrounding that character. It is presented from the viewpoint of Nick Carraway, a non-judgmental, mid-western born Yale graduate who lives in New York. The Great Gatsby, though set in an environment of opulence and mirth, complete with glamorous parties and social wealth, bares many underlying dark subplots of marital infidelity, social class discrimination and criminal activities during the course of the novel, revealing the prosperity-immorality paradox Fitzgerald sought to document with it.

The Great Gatsby is a veritable playground for character, plot, and social analysis, revealing complex and dynamic relationships between a diverse character pool and revealing the eternal skill of F. Scott Fitzgerald as one of America’s greatest historic authors. The social commentaries contained in The Great Gatsby are as applicable today as they were in the 1920s when the story was written.

  • The Great Gatsby reveals a fundamental paradox of human society, documenting a disturbing trend towards decadence and immorality during times of economic prosperity. Why does this paradox exist? What might the mechanisms behind it be? Have we experienced this trend in modern days and if so how?
  • Like many historically and socially significant novels, The Great Gatsby contains a diverse variety of character types, many bordering on stereotypical personas. Two of these, Jay Gatsby and the character Tom Buchanan, are perfect for character analysis. Though both Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan have achieved a level of “success,” each has arrived at that status via separate paths. Prepare a detailed comparison between the two characters, examining the described background experiences of each and the manner in which these backgrounds have affected the character. How do these differences affect the relationship between the two characters and those around them?
  • The Great Gatsby is considered one of the most influential novels in American history. It holds this consideration because, though laden with social commentary and criticism, the novel does not overly moralize. It presents the plot and leaves the conclusions to the reader, much as the events of the novel leave the character Nick Carroway to contemplate them upon his return to the Midwest after the events. How does this technique affect the quality and effectiveness of the novel? What evidence does the novel contain to support this position?

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