The Great Gatsby: a Rhetorical Analysis

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About this sample


Words: 1205 |

Page: 1|

7 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 1205|Page: 1|7 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024


Table of contents

  1. Example 1
  2. The Power of Imagery
    The Art of Persuasion
    The Elegance of Language
  3. Example 2
  4. Introduction
    Body Paragraph

Example 1

The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a classic American novel that explores themes of wealth, love, and the corruption of the American Dream. Through his masterful use of rhetoric, Fitzgerald captivates readers and sheds light on the flaws of society during the Roaring Twenties. In this essay, we will analyze the rhetorical devices employed by Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, examining their effects on the reader and the deeper meaning they convey.

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The Power of Imagery

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald utilizes vivid imagery to create a rich and immersive experience for the reader. For example, he describes Gatsby's parties as "riotous excursions" where "men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars" (Fitzgerald, 43). This evocative imagery not only transports readers to the extravagant world of the novel but also highlights the superficiality and emptiness that lies beneath the surface of the Jazz Age.

Fitzgerald's skillful use of imagery extends beyond mere description. He also employs symbolism to convey deeper meaning. The green light at the end of Daisy's dock, for instance, represents Gatsby's unattainable dreams and desires. Fitzgerald writes, "Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever" (Fitzgerald, 90). Through this symbolism, Fitzgerald emphasizes the ephemeral nature of the American Dream and the disillusionment that accompanies its pursuit.

The Art of Persuasion

Fitzgerald's rhetorical prowess is evident in his ability to persuade readers to sympathize with flawed characters. Jay Gatsby, for instance, is a man of questionable moral character who amasses great wealth through illegal means. However, Fitzgerald employs various rhetorical strategies to make readers empathize with Gatsby's pursuit of love and acceptance.

One such strategy is the use of flashbacks to reveal Gatsby's humble beginnings and his unwavering dedication to winning Daisy's heart. By presenting Gatsby's backstory in a sympathetic light, Fitzgerald encourages readers to overlook his criminal activities and root for his success.

Fitzgerald also employs the rhetorical device of irony to challenge societal norms and expose the hypocrisy of the upper class. The character of Tom Buchanan, for example, embodies the arrogance and entitlement of the wealthy elite. Fitzgerald writes, "The idea is if we don't look out, the white race will be—will be utterly submerged" (Fitzgerald, 17). By juxtaposing Tom's racist beliefs with his own extramarital affair, Fitzgerald criticizes the moral decay and hypocrisy of the upper class.

The Elegance of Language

Fitzgerald's mastery of language is another aspect that contributes to the effectiveness of his rhetoric. His prose is elegant and poetic, painting a vivid picture of the characters and their surroundings. This is particularly evident in his descriptions of Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby's love interest. Fitzgerald writes, "Her voice is full of money" (Fitzgerald, 128). This concise and evocative phrase not only captures Daisy's allure but also speaks to the materialistic nature of the society in which she exists.

Fitzgerald also employs rhetorical devices such as parallelism and repetition to emphasize key ideas and create a rhythmic flow to his writing. For example, he writes, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" (Fitzgerald, 180). The repetition of the phrase "borne back ceaselessly" underscores the characters' inability to escape the mistakes and regrets of their past, adding a sense of tragedy to the novel.


In conclusion, F. Scott Fitzgerald's use of rhetoric in The Great Gatsby serves to engage readers, convey deeper meaning, and shed light on the flaws of society during the 1920s. Through vivid imagery, persuasive techniques, and elegant language, Fitzgerald captivates his audience and leaves a lasting impression. The Great Gatsby stands as a timeless literary work, reminding us of the power of rhetoric and its ability to shape our understanding of the world around us.

Example 2


F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, published in 1925, stands as a seminal work in American literature, offering profound social commentary on the Jazz Age. The novel intricately explores themes of wealth, love, and the American Dream through its complex characters and emotive narrative. Fitzgerald employs a variety of rhetorical strategies to enhance the novel's themes and engage readers. This essay seeks to delve into the rhetorical devices used by Fitzgerald, such as symbolism, imagery, and irony, to highlight their significance in conveying the novel's central messages.

Body Paragraph

One of the most prominent rhetorical strategies used in The Great Gatsby is symbolism. Fitzgerald's use of symbols serves to deepen the reader's understanding of the characters and the overarching themes. The green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan's dock is one of the most significant symbols in the novel. It represents Gatsby's hopes and dreams for the future, particularly his desire to reunite with Daisy. The green light is described as ""minute and far away,"" indicating the elusive nature of Gatsby's aspirations (Fitzgerald, 1925). This symbol not only reflects Gatsby's unattainable ambitions but also serves as a broader commentary on the American Dream, suggesting that it is perpetually out of reach for many.

Imagery is another rhetorical device that Fitzgerald uses effectively to create vivid scenes and evoke emotions. The opulent parties at Gatsby's mansion are described with rich, sensory details that highlight the excess and decadence of the era. For instance, Fitzgerald writes, ""The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names"" (Fitzgerald, 1925). This passage not only paints a picture of the lively and extravagant atmosphere but also underscores the superficiality and fleeting nature of the relationships formed in such settings. Through such vivid imagery, Fitzgerald critiques the moral decay and hedonism of the upper class during the 1920s.

Irony is also a key rhetorical device in The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald often uses irony to highlight the contradictions and moral ambiguities in his characters and their actions. One poignant example is the character of Jay Gatsby himself. Despite his immense wealth and lavish lifestyle, Gatsby is fundamentally a tragic figure, driven by his unrequited love for Daisy and his misguided belief that he can recreate the past. His parties, intended to attract Daisy, are filled with people who do not genuinely care for him, further emphasizing the hollowness of his pursuits. Moreover, Gatsby's death is ironically juxtaposed with the triviality of the other characters' lives, as they continue their routines with little regard for his demise. This use of irony serves to underscore the emptiness of the American Dream and the moral disintegration of society.

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In conclusion, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby masterfully employs rhetorical strategies such as symbolism, imagery, and irony to convey its poignant themes. Through the symbol of the green light, Fitzgerald highlights the elusive nature of the American Dream. His use of vivid imagery brings to life the extravagance and moral decay of the Jazz Age, while irony exposes the contradictions and superficiality that pervade the lives of the characters. Together, these rhetorical devices enrich the narrative, offering readers a profound critique of the American Dream and the societal values of the 1920s. As a result, The Great Gatsby remains a timeless and relevant exploration of human aspirations and the complexities of the human condition.

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 2004.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Great Gatsby: A Rhetorical Analysis. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from
“The Great Gatsby: A Rhetorical Analysis.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
The Great Gatsby: A Rhetorical Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2024].
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