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We’ll go over some basic dos and don’ts for writing compare/contrast essays before diving into some analysis of the most asked-about character pairings.
Finally, differences between Nick and Gatsby raise some of the novel’s larger questions about the American Dream, repeating the past, and identity.
In short, these pairings have become common because they each allow fairly easy access to one of the novel’s larger issues.
We're using this system since there are many editions of Gatsby, so using page numbers would only work for students with our copy of the book.
To find a quotation we cite via chapter and paragraph in your book, you can either eyeball it (Paragraph 1-50: beginning of chapter; 50-100: middle of chapter; 100-on: end of chapter), or use the search function if you're using an online or e Reader version of the text.
) Make sure to address your larger argument in each body paragraph as you draw out the similarities and differences between the two characters.
Don’t get caught in the weeds as you tease out the many differences and similarities in each character pair. Finally, analyze each quote you use – in other words, don’t stick a quote in your essay and do nothing with it.
That’s not to say you couldn’t also explore some of those themes by comparing, say, Jordan and George, or Daisy and Gatsby, but cross-gender compare/contrast essays can be challenging because the status of women and men is so different in the novel.
If you are interested in seeing how a particular male and female character are paired, you may be better off studying them through the lens of love, desire, and relationships in the novel, or through the way they relate to one of the novel's symbols or motifs.
Although you can definitely start brainstorming by making a list of similarities and differences, just presenting that list in essay form won’t get you a good grade, since you need to go deeper and explain what the similarities/differences suggest about the novel as a whole.
And, on the other side, don’t make big claims without some evidence from the text to back them up.