Need thesis feedback: William Shakespeare's Hamlet and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby both share common themes within their respective stories, those being the isolation the two...

Need thesis feedback:

William Shakespeare's Hamlet and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby both share common themes within their respective stories, those being the isolation the two characters phase with themselves, the barriers that keep them from their happiness, the tragic flaws each man faces that leads to their downfalls, and the act of deception to get to their destinations. 

 In my introduction, should I give a brief overview of William and FSF and how their stories are similar to one another? Or is that the same concept as the thesis?

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billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

You have a tendency to overwrite--but that doesn't matter with the first draft, as long as you go back and cut unnecessary words out for your final draft. Cutting is one of the best things to learn about writing. I am copying your paragraph and offering a revised version.

William Shakespeare's Hamlet and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby both share common themes within their respective stories, those being the isolation the two characters phase with themselves, the barriers that keep them from their happiness, the tragic flaws each man faces that leads to their downfalls, and the act of deception to get to their destinations. 

William Shakespeare's play Hamlet and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby share common themes, those being the isolation both protagonists feel, the barriers keeping them from achieving happiness, their strategies of deception, and the tragic flaws that lead each to disaster.

amarang9's profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

You can include background information on Shakespeare and Fitzgerald later in your paper if it applies to your thesis. As for your introduction, this should contain your thesis statement, why it is significant or interesting, and how you propose to illustrate or prove your point with the rest of the paper. 

Both Hamlet and Gatsby face obstacles which prevent them from being happy. But there is a difference here. Gatsby's goal is happiness/love, but Hamlet's goal is revenge. They both isolate themselves from those around them. Hamlet acts crazy (his "madness") in order to mask his real strategy for revenge. Gatsby, likewise, creates a new persona in order to achieve his goals. So, they both use deception to get what they want. Hamlet has a number of flaws. He thinks too much. He procrastinates in trying to come up with the most perfectly righteous way to exact his revenge. Gatsby's tragic flaw is his idealism. He imagines Daisy with such reverence that she can not possibly live up to his expectations. 

This is a lot to think about in terms of a thesis. In the introduction, you should focus on one general similarity. Then explain how these other aspects will support your thesis that Hamlet and Gatsby are similar.

For example, your thesis is based upon the similarity of these two characters. Why is this important? What does it say about the individual striving towards a goal? It seems that you are saying that both characters isolate themselves from others and then change their personas in attempts to right some wrong in the external world. It seems that each man feels this is necessary in order to achieve some goal. In other words, deception (for good or bad purposes) is necessary (in Hamlet's and Gatsby's eyes) to outwit the corrupt, external world. Each man becomes like an actor, playing a certain role, to achieve certain ends.

Use your introduction to 1) show how both characters use similar strategies to achieve a goal. Then, 2) explain the thesis: how this is interesting that both men use deception in the service of justice (Hamlet) or love (Gatsby), and 3) add that you will use the rest of the paper to provide examples that will prove your thesis. 

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