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Essay Topics for the “Great Gatsby” Can Be Found in the Book

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal work of literature has been studied in high school and college literature courses for decades. And though the well-known work is often an enjoyable read for most, many students have a difficult time coming up with original essay topics to write about. The novel, however, is filled with plenty of subjects to write about.

Here is a list of 7 original essay topics for you to consider:

  • Is Nick a reliable narrator? Or do his qualities make his version of the events suspect?
  • Nick gives himself a description at the beginning of the novel that carries throughout the novel. However, should we question the ease and willingness in which he describes himself certainly does raise some red flags about whether or not he is being sincere or if he wants the reader to sympathize?

  • What are the novel’s biggest symbols? Does “Great Gatsby” say anything about the role that symbols play in everyday life?
  • Apart from the geographical symbols, perhaps the two biggest symbols are Dr. T.J Eckleburg’s eyes and the green light that appears at the end of Daisy’s clock. How does Fitzgerald use these symbols to direct emotion and control in the novel’s major character?

  • According to Nick, what exactly makes Gatsby “great”? How would our perception of Gatsby change if the Nick wasn’t the storyteller?
  • There is nothing that is great about James Gatz (Gatsby) and the life he’s created around for himself is really nothing more than an illusion. Is Fitzgerald being ironic in the use of “great” in both the title and throughout the novel?

  • What role does the novel’s geography and setting serve in dictating characters and themes?
  • The novel has four essential locations – the valley of ashes, East Egg, West Egg and New York City – and each correspond to a particular character type or theme. How do the encounters between characters and these locations tell us about the novel as a whole?

  • In what ways does the novel represent the American dream?
  • The American dream in the 1920s was tremendously different from what people might consider of it today. How does the novel’s exploration of wealth and aspiration contribute to the notion of American ideals?

  • Can “The Great Gatsby” be considered an autobiography of Fitzgerald’s life?
  • Does Fitzgerald write more of his life into the character of Gatsby or that of Nick? Or are Fitzgerald’s attributes and characteristics found in both Gatsby and Nick?

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