There’s an essay for “The Great Gatsby” due in a couple weeks, and you still don’t know what to write about? Look no further. Here are some tips and examples to a good literary analysis.
- Create an Eye-catching title: The title has to pull your readers in! Boring titles make readers want to ignore your essay and move on to another one that would catch their interest. Feed their curiosity. Make them want to know what you are writing about. An example would be something like this: A Fool’s Masquerade
- An Introduction: A good introduction consists of some background information, a brief overview of what will be inside the essay, and a clear thesis statement.
Hailed in the beginning as a character who lived a lavish and almost god-like existence, Jay Gatsby presents himself to the world as the epitome of undefined perfection. However, as time passes, the cracks in the mask he had forged through constant deception deepen and threaten his godly disposition. With every lie he speaks to bury his past, a piece of Gatsby’s fractured mask falls and unveils his true colors rather than his own idealistic self-presentation. In the novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald creates Jay Gatsby, a character whose extravagant conception of himself crumbles, illustrating the consequences of failing to grasp reality.
- Topic Sentences: The topic sentence of each paragraph should have some sort of connection to the thesis statement, or, at least, explain its relevance to the thesis. Some examples would be:
–Despite his inability to live the perfect life, Gatsby still compels himself to pull off the facade that displays perfection.
–As flawless as his plan seems, the enchantment hardly lasts the entirety of the story.
–Like the promise of safety of a lighthouse at a harbor, the green light symbolizes the naive hope that kept Gatsby going for the past five years.
–In a vain effort to reinvent himself, James Gatz creates a fake persona to live for him in the real world where the person behind the charming mask no longer holds the capability of existing outside the boundaries of Gatz’s fantasy.
- Solid Paragraphs: The whole point of a literary analysis is to make a claim, take a quote from the book to support that claim, then analyze the quote and claim. Remember, quotes should always be introduced and it is not advisable to start or end paragraphs with a quote. Example:
Like the promise of safety of a lighthouse at a harbor, the green light symbolizes the naive hope that kept Gatsby going for the past five years. However, once Daisy waltzes back into his life, “[p]ossibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of the light had now vanished forever”, and that maybe the dream he had worked so hard for was never worth it from the beginning (93). Even though he points out this uncertainty, Fitzgerald does not criticize the hard work Gatsby puts into achieving his dreams, both realistic and unrealistic. He acknowledges the courage of perseverance in spite of the odds and praises the dreams and goals fulfilled by facing rejection head on. He does, nonetheless, criticize the lack of skill to see the distinction between dreams. Incompetence and blind optimism destroy “Gatsby” in the end because they bar him from seeing the defects of his world. The green light that once encompassed the entirety of Gatsby’s luxurious fantasy with Daisy now holds no significance because he chose to resign himself into a fantasy already consumed by greed.
- Wrapping It Up: Your final paragraph should sum up all of your previous points and introduction. This does NOT mean, however, that it should just repeat the introduction. Final paragraphs should be concise and should clearly support (and restate) your claim while also bringing a new light to the points your previously discussed. Make sure to end the paragraph well because it will be the last thing your readers will see.
In the end, Jay Gatsby, an extravagant and wealthy fellow, dies as James Gatz, the poor owner of the mask “Gatsby”. “Gatsby” plays the role of the perfect gentleman who lives in the present to try to fix the past mistakes of James Gatz–a faint memory of simpler times. However, instead of moving forward to fix those mistakes, Gatsby chooses to resign himself to an idealized illusion of the past corrupted by love and greed. He dances around the lies he fabricates because he lacks the courage to face the future head-on, which causes his inevitable demise. James Gatz traps himself in the ruins of his dreams until the very end, hoping and hoping that he still holds the capability to reach that green light at the end of the dock. “Gatsby”, a mask that shattered and turned into nothing but shards of past memories, competed for a love that he would never receive because the past has no other fate but the past.
These are the basics to a good analysis paper. Always do lots of editing and make sure to take different inputs from a variety of people. The more you write, the better you will become!