Essay prompts for The Great Gatsby
Write on one
of the following prompts.
Your essay will be due November 10th. You must include references to both texts: The Great Gatsby and the short story “Winter Dreams.” Your paper should be 2+ pages in length (typed) or 3+ pages written in pen (blue or black ink). You essay should be free of errors (grammatical and factual) and must have an interesting title.
1. Many readers of The Great Gatsby
struggle understanding the relationship between Tom and Daisy. Even Nick cannot pinpoint why they stay together: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." Discuss Tom and Daisy's relationship
, tracing it back to its origins through the end of the novel. Why does Tom indulge in multiple affairs? Why does Daisy stay with him, knowing about his affairs? How does the attitude of the time in which they live (Fitzgerald’s own time
, as well as
the time of “Winter Dreams”) affect their relationship?
2. Gatsby's obsession with Daisy drives his adult life
, and, thus, the novel. At one point Nick observes, "... and Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves
, of the freshness of many clothes and of Daisy, gleaming like silver
, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor." What is it
about Daisy that Gatsby loves? Why is he so obsessed with obtaining her? Why is it so
important to him to erase the previous five years? What does he mean when he cries incredulously to Nick, "'Can't repeat the past? . . . Why of course you can!" How does Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy parallel Dexter Green’s relationship with Judy Jones?
3. The Great Gatsby is, among other things, a sobering and even ominous commentary on the dark side of the American dream. Discuss this theme, incorporating the conflicts of East Egg vs. West Egg and old money vs. new money. What does the American dream mean to Gatsby? What did the American Dream mean to Fitzgerald? How does morality fit into achieving the American dream? You may reference the quote below in your response:
“Many successful entrepreneurs [a person who organizes and assumes the risk of a business venture] rose to their positions of power from great poverty. These wealthy people represented ‘the American Dream’. Young people were taught to believe that they could be financially wealthy, no matter how humble their beginnings, if only they would work hard enough. The popular writer Horatio Alger promoted this idea in his many novels with the theme of rags-to-riches. The heroes in his novels were poor boys who achieved wealth, a high social position, and power through hard work, virtuous living, and an unusual amount of luck” (Armento, Beverly J. et al. A More Perfect Union. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999. 445).