There is no denying that F.Scott Fitzgerald novel - The Great Gatsby - is nothing short of iconic and mind stimulating. Published back in 1925, the book is set in the early decades of the 20th century and makes an outstanding use of contrasting imagery that depicts a tumultuous 1920s society. The novel unravels a number of themes throughout its plot such as money, relationships, pursuing the American Dream, and alcohol; all of which form excellent topics for a research paper for anyone who is looking to analyse Fitzgerald's novel more in details.
That being said, here are some of the most popular topics covered in The Great Gatsby. If you want to see some new and fresh ideas, please, read our other list of Great Gatsby new essay topics.
1. The Elusive American Dream
Throughout Scott's novel, different characters are depicted as trying to reach different heights of the proverbial American Dream. They all have their own unique definitions of the same and aspire to shape their destinies through these personal beliefs. As expected, money and wealth play quite an important role in achieving these lofty dreams. Through Gatsby's characters, we can that success, love, wealth and respect are somehow intertwined in the quest for these life visions and aspirations. The idealisation of Jay Gatsby, for instance, shows how the society has no qualms with the amassing of wealth with the aid of illegal means. Under this topic, a student can discuss how hopeful aspirations and the American dream ideology is turned into despair and anguish by affluent but crooked members of the society.
2. The Roaring 20s
The decade between 1920-29 is of particular importance and interest in the American history. And no wonder it is popularly referred to as the 'Roaring 20s' or the Jazz Age by many historians. This was a decade characterised by strife by all political, cultural, religious and social standards. Similarly, Fitzgerald, in his novel, "The Great Gatsby" paints the 1920s as a dark era of a self-absorbed, empty, and selfish pursuit of money and physical pleasure. Illegal activities, greed, and outright plunder of public coffers was the order of the day here as moral standards that had earlier helped hold the society in place slowly decayed. But it is not all grim as Scott Fitzgerald proves in this book. The same 20s saw the rise and rise of the US Stock Market and the increased recognition of women rights.
3. The Pervasiveness of Social Classes Segregation
One of the most dominant themes in "The Great Gatsby," was the discrimination of the members of the society along race and social classes lines. Jay Gatsby, for example, who rose from rags to riches is a typical illustration of how a man's prospects in the society change as soon as he acquires a sizeable fortune. At the same time, the strife between the 'old money' and the Nouveau Riche in a society is well-highlighted when Jay Gatsby is denied admission to the top echelons of this society despite his newfound wealth. Most of which, as a matter of fact, was gotten through illegal/questionable means. If anything, this proves that the disheartening human culture of discriminating people along racial and affluence lines did not start with us.
The Bottom Line
Like any other well-written piece of literature, there is no shortage of in-depth, thought-provoking popular topics to dissect in "The Great Gatsby". This is one of those of few novels that mirrors our current modern 21st-century society perfectly despite having been written almost a century ago.
Some call the 1920s the roaring 20s. I personally think so because the war had just ended and many soldiers are coming back. People started businesses and were doing quite well therefore the people have money to spend. The 1920s was also a time for new inventions and technology, such as the invention of the assembly line, which made production much cheaper and quicker. Another reason why the 20s was in the upswing is because people had money and many invested in the stock market bringing the economy in full drive. Hence the 1920s was a time of prosperity everything working in a cycle benefiting everyone.
As the soldiers were returning from the war, people had a sense of settling down and enjoying life. New businesses were found therefore creating more jobs in turn people had more money to spend and creating a high demand on a lot of products such as cars, newspapers etc. Such businesses that brought the economy in an upswing was that of oil and gas, hydro electric power, newsprint, and mining. There was a demand of oil and gas since people can afford cars and need gasoline and lubricating oil for their cars. The demand for electricity also high because people are starting to buy and use electric appliances such as lamps, telephones, radios, and electric stoves. In conclusion due to the attitude of the people who want to make a happy life they also brought the economy up by creating businesses and jobs.
The 1920s was also a time of exciting new inventions to make life much more convenient. New technology was widely used by the general public. Such new inventions and technology include telephones, cars, and airplanes. All these new machines made life much easier either by connecting two people verbally or shortening the time it takes to travel to a certain destination. The invention of the assembly line was also a big success as it made production much more cheaper and faster.
But this also meant that the people who assembled the vehicles would be fired, therefore not all inventions are all beneficial which mean sacrifices must be made. The world also benefited from this time when Frederick Banting from Toronto discovered insulin which would help a lot of people in the present as well as in the future. In the end, this time of upswing brought many new inventions and discoveries that would benefit generations to come.
As people made more money they invested in stocks and boosting the value of such companies. Prices soared and many people became rich overnight. But as people are blindly buying stocks thinking that they are guaranteed to become rich, they don’t know the big crash that is awaiting them. And is which one of the reasons why the 1920s led into the great depression. Therefore people had much money to spend which went right back into the companies through stocks creating a self-sustaining cycle.
Although the 1920s may appear to be all-positive, there is also a darker side of the 1920s. Due to the prohibition laws, alcohol was illegal. The 1920s gave birth to bootleggers and gangsters, which is still a problem to this date. Gangsters based their businesses on bootlegging, gambling, prostitution, and drugs. They destroyed families and made many people alcoholics and drug addicts. Even the police couldn’t stop these types of organized crime since the gangsters have enough money to bribe crooked cops. In other words, they were above the law. Therefore the 1920s was a time of organized crime and a big portion of money went into the business of gambling and illegal liquor.
The 1920s is a time of prosperity and new hope, new businesses being created along with new jobs. New technology and pioneering the beginning of these new inventions made life in the 1920s much easier and interesting. The stock market also created opportunities for people to invest in companies and many people did become rich overnight. Therefore “The Roaring 20s” suits its time as a time of new energy and prosperity.