The Great Gatsby Essay Topics

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel ''The Great Gatsby'' is among the most popular books for students. How do you know if they're truly grasping critical elements? These essay topics are designed to test comprehension.

Essay Questions

Symbolism and Metaphor

  • What does the green light represent for Jay Gatsby?
  • Gatsby's parties are lavish and indulgent, yet he rarely, if ever, attends. What do the parties represent for Gatsby?
  • The jazz era is widely known for its fashion trends. How do the changes in dress during this time signify a changing moral structure in society?
  • Discuss the significance of alcohol in The Great Gatsby.
  • A rainstorm creates a challenge as Daisy and Gatsby become reacquainted at Nick's. What message might the author have been sending by having it rain at this moment?
  • To reach New York City, people must pass through the Valley of the Ashes. Discuss the metaphorical significance of this.
  • The New York City scene where Tom and Gatsby face-off is pivotal. What role does the oppressive heat play in this?

Character Analysis

  • The Great Gatsby features several important female characters. Choose two and discuss their significance in the book using specific passages from the text to support your analysis.
  • George Wilson changes dramatically throughout the novel. What causes these changes? What does this say about George as a human being?
  • Daisy says that she hopes her daughter will be 'a beautiful little fool.' Why would she wish this for her daughter?
  • What does Myrtle Wilson represent in the novel? How does her appearance and demeanor support this notion?


  • East and West Egg divide the residents geographically. In what others ways does this physical divide create barriers for residents?
  • What does New York City stand for in the novel?

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