© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Great Gatsby

What's so great about him, anyway?

Babes, booze, and beautiful cars. Not quite how you'd imagine the description of a classic American novel, is it? Well, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby has all three in spades—not to mention, some of the most famous bits of writing and dialogue ever put to paper. This course will cover the book for what it is: a dramatic look at dreams, love, and society during the Roaring '20s that is endlessly praised as the Great American Novel.

Alcohol may be prohibited in Gatsby's world, but you know what's not? Dozens of engaging readings and Common Core-aligned activities that will help you understand:

  • Themes of love, desire, and identity as they appear in narrative storytelling.
  • Depictions of class and consumerism in the novel.
  • The portrayal of women, the wealthy, and the middle class in Fitzgerald's work.
  • The historical and literary context surrounding The Great Gatsby.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. The Great Gatsby

In this 15-lesson unit, we'll figure out what makes Gatsby so great and why on earth Fitzgerald uses phrases like "somnambulatory abstraction."

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 1: Glittering Eggs

An oil painting of a man at a dinner table, with a woman fussing over him on each side.
Fancy shmancy. (Source)

Meet Nick.

We hope you like him, because he'll be your guide through the entirety of The Great Gatsby. In Chapter One, he'll introduce us to the world of the 1920s.

First stop: Long Island. We'll tour West Egg and East Egg, where we'll see our share of mansions and big beach homes, reminding us that wealth, class, and success will be major players in the novel.

But as green (read: rich) as everything seems, there are some major differences between the two Eggs, so keep your eye out. By describing where our characters live, Fitzgerald is also telling us about their backgrounds and lifestyles.

Put on your flapper dress, and let's get to it.