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How to Write a Compare/Contrast Essay for The Great Gatsby

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 24, 2016 10:00:00 PM

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A very common essay prompt/discussion topic for The Great Gatsby is to have you compare and contrast a pair of characters in Gatsby. Why do teachers love these prompts so much?

These compare/contrast essays are an opportunity for you to tie the character similarities and differences to larger observations about society and class, the American Dream, or identity in the novel. They also allow you to practice standard English class skills: close reading, using lines from the text as evidence, and taking a stance and presenting a supporting argument in an essay.

We’ll go over some basic dos and don’ts for writing compare/contrast essays before diving into some analysis of the most asked-about character pairings. Keep reading if you have a Compare/Contrast assignment on the horizon!

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Best Crucible Act 2 Summary

Posted by Samantha Lindsay | May 24, 2016 9:00:00 PM

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Act 2 of The Crucible takes us to the Proctor household, where we learn just how crazy things have gotten in Salem after the initial flood of accusations. We'll also find out the extent to which John Proctor's relationship with Elizabeth has suffered after his affair. By the end of Act 2, characters who were thought to be beyond reproach will find themselves in mortal peril as a result of unchecked hysteria.  

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Best Crucible Act 1 Summary

Posted by Samantha Lindsay | May 24, 2016 8:00:00 PM

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The first act of The Crucible sets the stage (literally, heh) for the disturbing sequence of events that will unfold in Acts 2, 3, and 4. Most of the major characters are introduced, and there are critical insights into various political and personal conflicts that threaten to disrupt the social order in the town of Salem. We also learn how the witchcraft craze got started and why it spiraled out of control. This article will go over the very important sequence of events and their thematic relevance so you can answer all the questions your English teacher throws at you.    

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Every Great Gatsby Movie, Compared: 2013, 1974, 1949

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 24, 2016 7:00:00 PM

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If you’ve looked up The Great Gatsby movie, you’ve probably realized that there is more than one. So which of The Great Gatsby movies you should watch? Wondering if you can skip reading the book?

We have a complete guide to each of the Great Gatsby movie adaptations, as well as some advice for writing about the movies!

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Everything You Need to Know About F. Scott Fitzgerald

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 24, 2016 6:00:00 PM

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Curious about the man who created The Great Gatsby? Did you know that some of the events of this novel are actually based on things that happened to F. Scott Fitzgerald himself? This article will give you a broad overview of Fitzgerald’s life, with a focus on the autobiographical details that he later worked into The Great Gatsby

Use this background on The Great Gatsby author to further deepen your understanding of the novel, to connect it with the historical period that it's describing, and to better analyze the motivations of the characters.

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Best Analysis: Love and Relationships in The Great Gatsby

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 21, 2016 3:00:00 PM

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Love, desire, and sex are a major motivators for nearly every character in The Great Gatsby. However, none of Gatsby’s five major relationships is depicted as healthy or stable.

So what can we make of this? Is Fitzgerald arguing that love itself is unstable, or is it just that experiencing love and desire the way the characters do is problematic?

Gatsby’s portrayal of love and desire is complex. So we will explore and analyze each of Gatsby’s five major relationships: Daisy/Tom, George/Myrtle, Gatsby/Daisy, Tom/Myrtle, and Jordan/Nick. We will also note how each relationship develops through the story, the power dynamics involved, and what each particular relationship seems to say about Fitzgerald’s depiction of love.

We will also include analysis of important quotes for each of the five major couples. Finally, we will go over some common essay questions about love, desire, and relationships to help you with class assignments.

Keep reading for the ultimate guide to love in the time of Gatsby!

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Best Analysis: Money and Materialism in The Great Gatsby

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 21, 2016 2:00:00 PM

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In The Great Gatsby, money is a huge motivator in the characters’ relationships, motivations, and outcomes. Most of the characters reveal themselves to be highly materialistic, their motivations driven by their desire for money and things: Daisy marries and stays with Tom because of the lifestyle he can provide her, Myrtle has her affair with Tom due to the privileged world it grants her access to, and Gatsby even lusts after Daisy as if she is a prize to be won. After all, her voice is “full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it. . . . High in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl. . . .” (7.106).

So how exactly does materialism reveal itself as a theme, how can it help us analyze the characters, and what are some common assignments surrounding this theme? We will dig into all things money here in this guide.

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Most Important Themes in Great Gatsby, Analyzed

Posted by Halle Edwards | May 13, 2016 8:00:00 AM

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Need to write about a theme for a Great Gatsby assignment, or just curious about what exactly a theme is? Not sure where to start? Learn here what a theme is, what the main themes in The Great Gatsby are, and get some tips for writing about themes for your English/Language Arts class essays.

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Best Analysis: The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 12, 2016 11:00:00 PM

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The Great Gatsby is a tragic love story on the surface, but it’s most commonly understood as a pessimistic critique of the American Dream. In the novel, Jay Gatsby overcomes his poor past to gain an incredible amount of money and a limited amount of social cache in 1920s NYC, only to be rejected by the “old money” crowd. He then gets killed after being tangled up with them.

Through Gatsby’s life, as well as that of the Wilsons’, Fitzgerald critiques the idea that America is a meritocracy where anyone can rise to the top with enough hard work. We will explore how this theme plays out in the plot, briefly analyze some key quotes about it, as well as do some character analysis and broader analysis of topics surrounding the American Dream in The Great Gatsby.

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Best Character Analysis: Myrtle Wilson - The Great Gatsby

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 12, 2016 4:00:00 PM

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In most books and movies, the “other woman” – the woman having an affair with a married man – is often painted as a villain. But what about in The Great Gatsby, a novel in which both married women (Myrtle Wilson and Daisy Buchanan) are having affairs? Especially given that one (Daisy) ends up killing the other (Myrtle), is Myrtle just a one-note “other woman,” or is there more to her?

Myrtle’s role in the story isn’t as large as Daisy’s, Gatsby’s, or Tom’s. However, she is crucial to the plot of the story, and especially to its tragic conclusion. Find out more about Myrtle’s role in Gatsby in this guide!

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Best Character Analysis: George Wilson - The Great Gatsby

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 12, 2016 3:00:00 PM

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When you think about The Great Gatsby’s major characters, George Wilson is often the last to come to mind. Compared to his voluptuous wife, Myrtle, Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and, of course, the titular Gatsby himself, pale-faced, shrinking, passive George can almost escape your memory – and perhaps he entirely would if he didn’t turn out to be one of the novel’s most crucial characters.

George has the least “page time” of the seven major characters, but is important because of the crucial role he plays in the novel’s conclusion. Because of this, we don’t know quite as much about George’s personality, motivations, or characteristics as we do about other characters.

This guide goes over what we do know about George and explains why he is so important. Read on to learn more about the man underneath the ash.

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Best Character Analysis: Jay Gatsby - The Great Gatsby

Posted by Halle Edwards | May 8, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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The man, the myth, the legend, Jay Gatsby is the titular hero of The Great Gatsby.

Nick first comes to know him as an incredibly wealthy, mysterious man who throws lavish parties, but we eventually learn his background: a boy from humble origins who is desperate to win back the love of a rich woman, Daisy, and loses everything in his last attempt to win her over.

So where did Gatsby get his money? Does he actually love Daisy? And what’s so “great” about him anyway? This guide explains Gatsby’s rags-to-riches story, what he does in the novel, his most famous lines, and common essay topics. Read on for an in-depth guide to all things Jay Gatsby.

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Most Important Symbols in The Great Gatsby, Analyzed

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 8, 2016 8:30:00 AM

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Have you ever come across an object or an image in a book that was really over-described? That the author seemed way too over-invested in? Most of the time, that feeling is a hint that what you've encountered is a symbol! The Great Gatsby features many objects and images that pop up exactly like this.

But how do you interpret Great Gatsby symbols once you've found them? And how can you find symbols that don't have as much signposting around them? In this article, I'll take you through an explanation of what symbols are, how to locate them, and how to write about them. I'll also point you to in-depth articles about each of the most important symbols in The Great Gatsby.

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Understanding The Great Gatsby Ending and Last Line

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 7, 2016 10:00:00 PM

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As crucial as a detailed setting or the right mix of characters is to the success of a story, nothing quite packs a memorable gut punch like the perfect ending. Think about it: the way a story ends tends to shape our understanding of what we have just read. If it ended in love and marriage, then it must have been a love story. If it ended in death, then it was a tragedy.

So what do we make of the The Great Gatsby ending? Why is there so much death? Why doesn’t anyone get their just comeuppance? In this article, I’ll talk about the significance of endings in general, and explore the meaning behind The Great Gatsby’s last line, last paragraphs, and the conclusion of the plot.

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Understanding The Great Gatsby First Line and Epigraph

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 7, 2016 9:00:00 PM

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There’s a reason why magazines regularly put together lists of the greatest first lines in all of literature: book openings make a huge impression on readers. How a book starts helps us orient in the world that the book is creating.

First, it gives us our first idea of the narrator, and the type of narration we’re going to encounter. Will it be a breathy first-person confession? Or a cool and detached third-person observation?

Second, it introduces the setting, letting us know where and when the story takes place - which is very important for modulating reader expectations. What we think about two people kissing in prim and proper Victorian England will be very different than what we think about the same couple in modern day Canada.

So what does the beginning of The Great Gatsby reveal? Read on for the meaning of this work’s epigraph, its opening line, and its beginning paragraphs.

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