Literary Analysis: The Great Gatsby

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Fall Dates:

November 4 - December 4 (Wed.), 2013
(Thanksgiving break: 11/27-11/29)
(4 weeks)


Susanne Barrett


$199.00 per student

Class Size:

20 students


9th - 12th grade students

The Literary Analysis (LA) course is for competent high school writers.


Literary Analysis: The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This four-week course is taught by Susanne Barrett, MA in literature.

If there is one quintessentially American novel, it’s the brilliant exploration of the “Roaring Twenties” depicted in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Accepted by most scholars as Fitzgerald’s greatest work, The Great Gatsby is a classic novel of American literature, offering an insightful yet negative exploration of America in the 1920s. Stylistically, the novel is well-crafted and extraordinarily neat, as is most of Fitzgerald’s work.

The author provides a compassionate yet convicting understanding of his corrupted, greedy characters who don’t understand why they are depressed and unfulfilled. The scintillating character of Jay Gatsby, a self-made man who, while a product of his generation, also yearns for the simple things of life: friendship, respect, and love. His relatively poor neighbor, Nick Carraway, unaccountably becomes Gatsby’s friend, confidant, and biographer. The characters, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, demonstrate the gulf between the truly cultured and the nouveau riche, between those who take responsibility for their actions and their sins, and those who callously ruin lives wherever they go.

Brought to more attention by this year’s film release of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan, this novel explores what it is to be an American in the 1920s. Does money make us successful, or does hope? Can dreams really come true? Is there (divine) retribution for the sins of our past? Does the good guy always win and the bad guy always lose? These questions and others are addressed in Fitzgerald’s most famous novel.

Susanne Barrett will lead students on a four-week exploration and analysis of the characters, stylistic devices, symbolism, and themes of The Great Gatsby. Students will learn the literary and social background of the novel, respond to Discussion Questions, reply to other students’ analyses, and watch a film version of the novel (either the 2013 film if it’s out on DVD in time or the 1974 film starring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, and Sam Waterston). In addition, students will write a Final Writing Project in which they will choose among four possible topics.

Class Schedule:

Week 1: Background on Fitzgerald, the “roaring twenties,” and overview of the novel; Start reading and discussing The Great Gatsby
Week 2: Continue reading and discussing The Great Gatsby
Week 3: Continue reading and discussing The Great Gatsby
Week 4: Watch and discuss a film version of The Great Gatsby and compose a Final Writing Project (choice of four projects)

Reading and studying The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a common reading requirement in American high schools. Exploring this quintessential American novel with Brave Writer methods will provide an enjoyable and memorable experience for students.