Is The Great Gatsby really great?
“On October 27, 1924, Fitzgerald sent to Max Perkins the manuscript … which he alternately was calling Trimalchio* in West Egg or The Great Gatsby. In his covering letter, he noted, ‘I have an alternative title: Gold-hatted Gatsby.’ A week later … he was floundering: ‘I have not decided to stick to the title I put on the book, Trimalchio in West Egg. The only other titles that seem to fit it are Trimalchio and On the Road to West Egg. I had two others, Gold- hatted Gatsby and The High-Bouncing Lover**, but they seemed too slight.’ A month later, he was still mulling over titles, including Among Ash Heaps and Millionaires and still Trimalchio in West Egg. ‘Maybe simply Trimalchio or Gatsby.’ On January 24th, 1925 in a … letter to Perkins, he noted: ‘I’m returning the proof of the title page, etc. It’s O.K. but my heart tells me I should have named it Trimalchio. However against all advice I suppose it would have been stupid and stubborn of me. Trimalchio in West Egg was only a compromise. Gatsby is too much like Babbitt*** and The Great Gatsby is weak because there’s no emphasis even ironically on his greatness or lack of it. However, let it pass.’
What a mistake! Too late he realized it, two weeks before publication date sending off to Perkins … a frantic wire: ‘CRAZY ABOUT TITLE UNDER THE RED WHITE AND BLUE. WHAT WOULD DELAY BE?’ … Too late, wired Perkins …”
Arthur T. Vanderbilt, The Making of a Bestseller: From Author to Reader.
* Trimalchio was the host of lavish parties in the Satyricon by the Roman writer, Petronius.
** These two titles refer to the poem which appears at the beginning of the novel. The verse, written by F Scott Fitzgerald, is attributed to Thomas Parke D’Invilliers, a character in his first novel, This Side of Paradise
*** A novel by American writer Sinclair Lewis, published in 1922.
In a thoughtful, well-written essay, that has a clear thesis statement, discuss the significance of the title, The Great Gatsby. What message is conveyed by it? Think about how the title relates specifically to at least one of the themes developed in the novel and explore this relationship in your writing. Be sure to use sufficient textual evidence to support your contentions. (Remember: a theme is NOT a thesis statement.)
Some Additional Reminders:
As always, ignore the obvious—it’s boring
No first person
You must have a strong thesis statement, and state it clearly in your introduction. Please underline your thesis statement.
The essay must have a distinct introduction, body and conclusion
Each paragraph must have a topic sentence
Be sure that tenses are used correctly—present tense to refer to any work you discuss. Past tense to historical references ONLY.
Be sure that you do not retell the plot.
If you use quotations, be sure that they are properly embedded and cited.
Your essay must be carefully proofread and edited.
DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF TO A FIVE PARAGRAPH ESSSAY
BE SURE TO GIVE YOUR PAPER A TITLE THAT REFLECTS CONTENT—THE GREAT GATSBY IS NOT A TITLE