How to Write a Thesis Statement for "The Great Gatsby"

Learn more about the classic American novel,

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” is a classic of American fiction and a staple in the literature classroom. The tragic story of Jay Gatsby plays out against the opulence of the 1920s. The text offers a range of subjects from which to create a thesis statement, including the book’s symbolism, the pursuit of the American dream, the clash of social classes and even the novel’s title. By learning why these ideas are important components of the book and understanding the purpose of a thesis statement, you can create the foundation for a successful essay.

Know that a thesis statement announces the topic and viewpoint of your paper in a succinct, direct manner. Place it at the end of the introduction in a single sentence.

Understand the meaning and purpose behind the book's symbolism. Concentrate on the purpose of the symbolism, not just one or two examples. If, for instance, several of the novel’s symbols deal with problems of materialism, determine why Fitzgerald would want to highlight materialism in his novel.

Know how the book deals with the American dream, through the character of Gatsby or the other characters in the novel. As above, determine how Fitzgerald feels the American dream through the imagery he employs.

Understand Fitzgerald's point of view about the various social classes that the characters in the novel represent. To narrow the topic, choose to write about how Fitzgerald deals with one class.

Decide what is meant by the novel’s title, "The Great Gatsby," and tailor your thesis statement around the adjective “great.” Be sure to consider if the title is ironic.

  • The thesis can alert you when you go off track during the writing process: If anything in the body of your paper does not support the thesis, it should be deleted.

Shelia Odak has over 10 years writing and editing experience for consumer and trade publications including "Radio/TV Interview Report." She has worked for over nine years in education and holds a Ph.D. from Georgia State University. Odak writes on a range of topics including education, literature and frugal living.