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What are the themes of The Great Gatsby? Show more Show less

F. Scott Fitzgerald's beloved novel The Great Gatsby is required reading for most high schools. It shows New York City during the 1920s: a time of youth, wealth, and prohibition. What exactly are the themes of the novel, and how are the characters influenced by the values of the era?

The Great Gatsby is about death Show more Show less

Death affects every character in the novel.
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Jay Gatsby's death

Gatsby's death is the climax of the entire novel.
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The Great Gatsby literature education reading book


The Argument

Gatsby's death is symbolic of the death of the American dream, bringing the novel full-circle. Even though George Wilson murdered him, Gatsby still carries some of the blame for his death. He took responsibility for Myrtle Wilson's death in order to protect Daisy.[1] The plot builds to that moment, with death being the climax of the story. It again separates the characters, and they go back to their daily lives. Without Gatsby, the characters are not tied together. The only person that grieves over Gatsby is Nick Carraway. He lost a friend and his ties to the elite class; without Gatsby, Nick does not see the point in staying in New York so he moves back to the Midwest.

Counter arguments

Gatsby's death isn't symbolic of the death of the American dream. Instead, it is a symbol of his love for Daisy. He was able to prove how much he loved and cared for her by taking responsibility for Myrtle's death. Gatsby created his life around pursuing Daisy, and she was the reason for his death.



[P1] Gatsby's death symbolizes the death of the American dream. [P2] Gatsby's death is the climax of the novel. [P3] Therefore, the theme of The Great Gatsby is death.

Rejecting the premises


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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 25 Mar 2020 at 18:51 UTC