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. 

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1. The Great Gatsby – Really Great by Grace Nguyen

“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. 

2. Five reasons ‘Gatsby’ is the great American novel by Deirdre Donahue

“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. 

3. “The Great Gatsby” Color Analysis by Kurt Medina

“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. 

4.  In Defense of Plot: An Analysis of the Tension in The Great Gatsby by Aatif Rashid

“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. 

Top Writing Prompts on Essays about The Great Gatsby

1. How Does the Novel Manifest the American Dream?

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. 

2. The Story Behind the Title

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. 

3. Compare and Contrast

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. 

4. How Is New York City Portrayed?

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. 

5. The Great Gatsby’s Legacy

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.

6. The Theme of Race

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.

7. The Theme of Social Class

Essays about The Great Gatsby
Studio photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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.