The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis Lesson Plan

It was a matter of chance that I should have worked at a school in one of the strangest communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous island which extends itself due east of New York — and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual administrators. Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous egos, identical in contour and separated only by a degree in educational administration, jutted into my classroom.

Luckily my class was working on this Great Gatsby Literary Analysis lesson.

And here’s The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis Lesson Plan I used that day.

Literary Analysis Lesson Plan for The Great Gatsby

These Great Gatsby lesson plans will have you living the American Educational Dream.

We’re barely in to the post and I’ve already given you what you were looking for. Here’s more.

The Great Gatsby Literary Merit

Who am I to question the literary merit of a novel that T.S. Eliot calls “the first step” American fiction has taken since Henry James?

  • The American Dream: According to Fitzgerald, is the American Dream Dead? Is the American Dream dead today?
  • Prohibition: What were the effects of prohibition? Would it work today?
  • Profligate Living: How did profligate living lead to the destruction of so many lives? How does such a lifestyle lead to destruction and woe today?
  • Modern Marriage: How are marriages portrayed in The Great Gatsby? Is marriage dead? What are some issues facing married couples and families today?
  • Greed: How does greed lead to Gatsby’s downfall?
  • Obsession: Is obsession ever a good thing? How does obsession lead to Gatsby’s death?
  • The Importance of Social Status: What role does social status play in the novel? What role does social status play in high school?

The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis

When teaching The Great Gatsby, you may want to focus on the following literary devices:

  • Foreshadowing: Gatsby’s impending doom is hinted at from the beginning. The narrator writes it as a history and is looking back on events that have already occurred.
  • Setting: If you want to provide an example of how to use setting to enhance a novel’s meaning, teach The Great Gatsby.
  • Mood: Fitzgerald establishes the proper mood for each scene: the party scenes feel gay and happy; tension dominates the Buchannan family scenes; and Fitzgerald deftly creates suspense as the novel’s tragic ending unfolds.
  • Tone: Higher level students may detect an overriding sense of sarcasm and humor to the entire description. I read the book all the way through on three consecutive days. By the third time, I was laughing hysterically and wondering how I had not caught the narrator’s nuances before.
  • Plot: There is not one wasted word.
  • Characterization: The characters are brought forth through their actions, words, and deeds.
  • Conflict: individual v. society; individual v. individual; individual v. self
  • Byronic Hero: Some consider Jay Gatsby a Byronic hero.
  • Tragic Hero: Others consider him a tragic hero.
  • Symbolism: Readers gain a greater understanding of the novel by identifying and interpreting its symbols.

Student Readability

Not all students understand Fitzgerald’s writing style and diction. For that reason, teaching The Great Gatsby requires a more hands-on approach for average and below average readers. However, the novel’s brevity and clear scene breaks make it a natural read for the classroom. Once you get past chapter 1, students will look forward to coming to class (kind of).

Teaching The Great Gatsby fits in perfectly for college bound classes: 1) It’s an outstanding literary work; 2) It forms part of the foundation of American Literature; 3) It’s taught at just about every university in the country.

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