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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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Myrtle Wilson's death

The death of Myrtle Wilson triggered other tragic events.
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book education literature reading The Great Gatsby


The Argument

Myrtle Wilson's death acts as a trigger, changing the direction of the novel. The hit and run creates tension and blame between characters.[1] Daisy was the person who hit Myrtle, but she was driving Gatsby's car. He took responsibility and claimed to be driving the car in order to protect her. Tom, despite knowing the truth, leads Myrtle's angry husband, George, straight to Gatsby to carry out revenge. Because Myrtle died, Gatsby died too.

Counter arguments

Even if Myrtle Wilson didn't die, another tragic event would have happened in its place. There was already tension between the characters, starting in New York City when Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby fight over who Daisy loves more. The characters were already having issues between them and would have most likely split up regardless.



[P1] Myrtle Wilson's death triggers other events in the novel. [P2] Gatsby took the blame for killing Myrtle Wilson. [P3] Gatsby died because Myrtle Wilson died. [P4] Therefore, the theme of The Great Gatsby is death.

Rejecting the premises


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This page was last edited on Thursday, 26 Mar 2020 at 12:03 UTC