10th Grade English A

Kurt Estep
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The Great Gatsby Essay Assignment

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Write an analytic essay on the importance of imagery in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

What is Imagery in Literature?

In literature, imagery refers to words that trigger your imagination to recall images – memories of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, sensations of touch, and motions.  Imagery is a channel to your active imagination.  An author’s use of imagery provokes a mood or emotional response that helps to communicate the key ideas of the story.

Classifications of Imagery

Sight – visual images.  Sight helps us to remember experiences, and thus visual images are most frequently used in literature.  Example: The billowing white curtains of the Buchanan’s living room make it seem as though Nick is entering a heavenly realm, highlighting his perception of the Buchanans as an elegant and untouchable wealthy class.
Sound – auditory images.  Example: The fog horn keeps Nick awake at night in Chapter 8, foreshadowing the misfortune that lies in store for Gatsby.
Other classifications – Smell (olfactory image), taste (gustatory image), touch (tactile image), and motion (kinetic image).  Visual images are often kinetic as well, such as the billowing white curtains of the Buchanan’s living room.

How to Write your Essay

This essay should follow the same format as the “Everyday Use” essay, with an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and a conclusion (remember the candy wrapper diagram).  You have two options for ways to write this paper:

1. Use the thesis statement (or a version of it): Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald uses imagery effectively to highlight his themes.  Then proceed to write about three different examples of imagery and how they help us to understand Fitzgerald’s themes.  Each body paragraph should focus on one example of imagery in The Great Gatsby.

2. Construct a thesis of your choosing that focuses on the use of imagery in The Great Gatsby.  An effective approach would be to pick one of Fitzgerald’s themes, and discuss the imagery that helps to illuminate this theme (For example, the image of Gatsby’s house is first bright and beckoning, but slowly deteriorates, illuminating the false promises of the American Dream). 

Questions to get you thinking:

- What ideas or moods are evoked by the images?  Do the images promote approval or disapproval?  Cheerfulness?  Melancholy?  Why? 
- Are the images consistent or do they change (for example, Gatsby’s house is first glowing with light, but later is dusty and dilapidated). 
- You can also discuss the types of images in the text...  Are there many visual images in one point at the story?  If so, why?  Does the author use both visual and auditory images?  Do they assist in making the author’s message convincing?

Final draft due:  Thursday, December 19 or Friday, December 20 (No class on Friday).
Grading Rubric: Thesis statement (25%), organization (25%), language use (25%) and mechanics (25%).

Revisions to corrected essay due no later than Friday, January 10th, 2014.