The Great Gatsby – Critical Essay

Here’s an example paragraph to help with your essay planning – remember this is an example to guide you; don’t copy it for your own essay.

P (TOPIC SENTENCE): Fitzgerald uses this turning point to reveal how brutal the impact of Gatbsy’s uncovering is, as well as hinting at the dark end to come.
E (EVIDENCE): When Tom reveals Gatsby’s true source of income and reveals him for the criminal he really is, the shock of Gatsby’s undoing is clearly apparent.
“[Gatsby] looked – and this is said in all contempt for the babbled slander of his garden – as if he had ‘killed a man’. For a moment the set of his face could be described in just that fantastic way.
E (EVALUATION): Fitzgerald’s use of the phrase “killed a man” immediately suggests that there has been a death, but it is not a literal one; rather, it is the death of the man Gatsby had created around himself. The word choice of “fantastic” also has dual meanings here – it says that though it is untrue that Gatsby has killed someone, it echoes the fantastical nature of his persona – that he has created a character in his life as Jay Gatsby. The quote effectively shows that at this moment, any front or false persona Gatsby has left has now disappeared – he is revealed for what he truly is. This is the key turning point in the novel – we see how Gatsby has symbolically been “killed”; nothing remains of the charismatic pretender we met early in the novel. Instead, this quotation foreshadows his literal death at the hands of George Wilson, and implies that this is almost unavoidable – that there the most important part of him is already “dead” or destroyed.


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