The Great Gatsby Thesis Statements and Important Quotes
Below you will find three outstanding thesis statements / paper topics on “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “The Great Gatsby” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “The Great Gatsby” offer a summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below for “Great Gatsby” in conjunction with the list of important quotes at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Character Flaws in “The Great Gatsby”
Stories and novels such as “The Great Gatsby” interest us because they involve people whose lives are as complicated as our own; otherwise, they would be unlikely to hold our attention. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, Gatsby has a number of serious character flaws, though these are only revealed over time. As you think about “The Great Gatsby” and the topic of character flaws, consider how rich this topic is and how many different directions it could take. Choose one direction for “The Great Gatsby” and elaborate upon it by providing relevant evidence from the text. Are Gatsby’s most obvious flaws also his most fatal ones? Or is it the case that Gatsby’s seemingly less important flaws are those which bring him the most pain? How did character flaws function in the development of plot?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: “Passing” and Issues of Identity in The Great Gatsby
Many great American novels such as The Great Gatsby tackle the subject of “passing,” which involves a character pretending to be something or someone that he or she is not. Although it takes awhile for the reader to learn that Gatsby has invented his entire life in order to pass as someone from a higher social class, this dynamic becomes one of the most important aspects of The Great Gatsby. Considering what the reader learns about Gatsby’s humble origins and the life that he has created for himself, what does his “passing” signify? Another idea might be to consider how others relate to Gatsby’s efforts to “pass”… Initially, there is an air of intrigue about this man who is so generous yet so mysterious, but as his false identity is exposed, he becomes a pathetic and pitiable character. What might the author be trying to say about identity and self-acceptance?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Great Gatsby: Comedy or Tragedy?
Upon first glance, The Great Gatsby appears to be a tragedy. The title character, Gatsby, is exposed as a pitiable fraud and his carefully constructed life falls apart, ending in murder. Yet, is there the possibility to read this novel as a comedy? There are certainly many comedic episodes throughout the novel, such as the scene in which Owl Eyes goes to the library because he believes books will sober him up. If you had to choose, would you classify this novel as a comedy or tragedy? What textual evidence supports your argument? Be sure to indicate your understanding of the definitions for “comedy” and “tragedy,” and take into consideration that one person’s tragic episode may be another’s comic relief.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 Symbols in “The Great Gatsby”
Most great novels have at least one symbol that can be referred to as a trope, the symbol that represents the thematic thrust of the work. There are many symbols in The Great Gatsby, but perhaps none so evident and so metaphorically powerful as the eyes on the billboard. While this symbol seems to play a marginal role, it actually holds far deeper significance to the novel’s intent. Building upon this idea, what are other passages and instances in the novel where eyes figure prominently in developing the relationships among the characters, the action, and the theme? What does this symbol mean in relationship to this particular text? Consider related topics, such as illusion and perception, and their metaphorical relevance.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: Light and Dark in The Great Gatsby
In addition to the symbols related to eyes, the use of light and dark to represent emotional and mental states is prominent in The Great Gatsby. Frequent references are made to lights of various sorts, including the light on the distant dock, the light in a neighbor’s house, and car lights. While light and dark are conventional and well-worn ways to refer to psychological states of characters, what are the particular meanings of the instances of light and dark as they appear in this novel?
This list of important quotations from The “Great Gatsby” will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “The Great Gatsby” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned. All quotes from “The Great Gatsby” contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of “The Great Gatsby” they are referring to.
“I’m inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores.” (5)
“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.” (6)
“No—Gatsby turned out all right in the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.” (6-7)
“The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg… look out of no face, but instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. …But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.” (27-28)
“We all turned around and looked for Gatsby. It was testimony to the romantic speculation he inspired that there were whispers about him from those who had found little that it was necessary to whisper about in this world.” (48)
“Some time before he introduced himself I’d got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.” (53)
“ ‘I’m going to make a big request of you today,’ he said…, ‘so I thought you ought to know something about me. I didn’t want you to think I was just some nobody. You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad thing that happened to me.’” (71-72).
“It was when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that the lights in his house failed to go on one Saturday night….” (119)
“ ‘Of course we was broke up when he run off from home, but now I see there was a reason for it. He knew he had a big future in front of him. And ever since he made a success he was very generous with me.’ ” (181)
“And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him….” (189)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Collier, 1992.