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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 502

Sample Analytical Paper Topics
The following paper topics are based on the entire book. Following each topic is a thesis and sample outline. Use these as a starting point for your paper.

  • Topic #1
    Henry Steele Commager in The American Mind: An Interpretation of American Thought and Character Since the 1880s contends that “the tragedy is not that Gatsby lies dead, the rooms in his fabulous mansion silent—but that while he lived he realized all his ambitions.” Justify this contention.

    I. Thesis Statement: Although Gatsby’s end was tragic, he was able to realize his ambitions.

    II. He fulfilled the ambition of acquiring money.
    A. By illegal means, he acquired massive amounts of money.

    III. He fulfilled the ambition of experiencing love.
    A. By determination, he experienced a physical relationship with Daisy.

    IV. He fulfilled the ambition of gaining popularity.
    A. Through generosity, he entertained hundreds of guests.

  • Topic #2
    How do literary devices add to the dimension of depth or texture to this novel?

    I. Thesis Statement: Fitzgerald employs several devices, including color imagery, symbols, and descriptive tags, throughout the novel.

    II. Color imagery conveys dual meanings.
    A. Yellow is associated not only with bright, heavenly scenes, opulence, and wealth, but also with corruption and decay.

    III. Symbols add meaning.
    A. Cars symbolize restlessness, driving ambition, recklessness.
    B. Eyes symbolize the presence or absence of God.

    IV. Recurring “tags” of description characterize effectively.
    A. Jordan’s “jauntiness” establishes her as atypical and yet representative of young women in the 1920s.

  • Topic #3
    Prove that Gatsby really is worth more than “the whole damn bunch put together.”

    I. Thesis Statement: Nick’s assertion that Gatsby is worth more than “the whole damn bunch put together” is supported by Gatsby’s purer motives and actions.

    II. Gatsby retains the American Dream in its purest form.
    A. He has the quality of the original seekers of the dream—the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

    III. He adheres to the precept of accepting consequences.
    A. Having “taken” Daisy that night in Louisville, he feels it is his responsibility to marry her.

    IV. Gatsby possesses indefatigable hope.
    A. He believes Daisy will do the right thing, will make the moral choice she failed to make five years before, especially now that he can provide for her needs materially.

  • Topic #4
    Show how literary techniques most effectively convey Fitzgerald’s theme of waste in the American Dream.

    I. Thesis Statement: A primary theme of the novel is waste, which Fitzgerald conveys through not only the narrative but with literary devices as well.

    II. Symbols effectively convey wasted energy.
    A. Cars, the green light, and the billboard of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg’s eyes convey waste on different levels.

    III. Imagery effectively conveys wasted lives.
    A. Color and heat images convey decadence.

    IV. Naming effectively conveys wasted opportunity.
    A. Name of the novel, names of characters, and names of places suggest a waste of ideals.

    V. Other devices convey the same theme.
    A. Settings
    B. Contrasts

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Critical Evaluation