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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Society and Class

America is a classless society. True or false? You'll have good support no matter which way you answer, but The Great Gatsby has a pretty clear answer: no. There's no such thing as the American Dre...

Love

Only fools fall in love, and the biggest fool in The Great Gatsby is, well, Gatsby. Tom and Daisy may have some kind of affection and loyalty for each other, but we're pretty sure it's not actually...

Visions of America

Did the American Dream die in 2008, or did it die in 1918—or did it never really exist at all? In The Great Gatsby, the American Dream is supposed to stand for independence and the ability to mak...

Wealth

In The Great Gatsby, money makes the world go 'round—or at least gets you moving in the right direction. It can buy you yellow Rolls-Royces, "gas blue" dresses, and really nice shirts, but in the...

Memory and the Past

Pro tip from the olds at Shmoop: if the best years of your life took place in high school, you're in for a long downhill slide. There's nothing wrong with remembering the good times, but living in...

Dissatisfaction

You have a handsome, wealthy husband; a string of polo ponies; and a closetful of really nice white dresses. What more could you want? Apparently, a lot. None of the characters in The Great Gatsby...

Isolation

There's a reason they called it the Lost Generation: the world Fitzgerald lived in, and the world his characters inhabit, is one without connections, friends, or family. People may come together in...

Mortality

Sure, there's the hit-and-run and murder/ suicide at the end. (Oops. Did we spoil it for you?) But The Great Gatsby is also interested in metaphorical kinds of death: the kind where Gatsby kills th...

Marriage

If the marriages in The Great Gatsby are anything to go by, we want nothing to do with marriage. Love? Optional. Loyalty? Definitely not. The only marriages we see are marked by adultery, deception...

Gender

Here's a fun scavenger hunt for you: see where and how often the word "woman" shows up in The Great Gatsby. (Helpful hint: this online text is searchable.) We'll give you a hint: it's mostly in ref...

Lies and Deceit

Nick may say that he's one of the few honest people he knows, but we're not so sure about that. The Great Gatsby is built around lies, and why should this be any different? Human beings are inheren...

Education

In The Great Gatsby, education is a must-have for the socially elite. For the most part, characters in The Great Gatsby are well-educated – this is reflected by their speech and dialogue. The n...

Compassion and Forgiveness

The characters in The Great Gatsby all show a unique combination of a willingness to forgive and a stubbornness not to. Gatsby is willing to forgive Daisy’s marriage to another man, but not her l...

Religion

The fact that religion is absent among the upper echelons of society suggests that a moral standard might also be absent – as much is borne out by characters’ actions. When God does appear, it...
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