These The Great Gatsby project ideas extend learning and give students a variety of ways to demonstrate their skills, knowledge, talents, and creativity.
Overview: The Great Gatsby Final Projects
- The Geography of Desire (map)
- Character Monologue (performance)
- Judging a Cover by Its Book (art)
- Time Travel Gallery (historical context)
- Getting the Green Light (symbol presentation)
- Poetry Connections
- Modernism in Art and Literature
- Point of View Shift (narrative writing)
- The Great Fitzgerald (research report)
- Eulogy for Gatsby
- Despicable Them (social media project)
- The Not-So-Great Gatsby Debate
- Theme Reflection (personal essay)
- Viewing Guide and Film Review
The Geography of Desire (map project)
Fitzgerald uses the locations in The Great Gatsby as thematic elements. The landscape reflects what Maureen Corrigan calls “…an inner geography of yearning.” The settings are more than just places for the events to occur; the locations add layers of meaning.
Whether we identify the geography of the novel as symbolic or as a motif is unimportant. (Does an amusement park symbolize fun or is it simply a place where fun happens?) What matters is understanding how Fitzgerald uses the geography to specific effects.
Create a map illustrating the role of geography in The Great Gatsby. Include visuals (images, icons, symbols, etc.) to represent the settings and make connections. Each location should include an image, an excerpt, and an explanation of its importance. Your visual aid must illustrate how the geography of the novel interacts with and develops other elements.
Character Monologue (performance)
Fitzgerald’s memorable characters drive the plot and develop the themes of The Great Gatsby. Surely these carefully crafted individuals all have unique points of view, but the narration of the novel limits the reader to Nick’s perspective.
This project offers the other characters a chance to speak for themselves — a chance to bypass Nick’s interpretations and speak to us directly.
Demonstrate your understanding of point of view and characterization in The Great Gatsby through creative writing and performance. Write a monologue (a long speech by one character) for a selected character at specific point in their life’s story. For example, you might give Daisy a chance to explain why she does not feel any guilt after the death of Myrtle.
Judging a Cover by Its Book (original art)
The first edition of The Great Gatsby showcases a unique collaboration. Fitzgerald selected the art for the book jacket as he was writing and told his editor, “Don’t give anyone that jacket you’re saving for me, I’ve written it into the book.” Despite this contribution, the artist, Francis Cugat, received only $100 for his vision.
Provide the cover for a new edition by creating original art inspired by The Great Gatsby. You might make a sketch, collage, graphic design, painting, photograph, or sculpture. Choose elements from the novel (theme, image, symbol, allusion, setting, character, event, etc.) to explore in your art.
Time Travel Gallery (historical context)
Imagine that the class plans to time travel back to New York City on April 10, 1925 (the publication date of The Great Gatsby). We will attempt to experience the Jazz Age first-hand. Blending in will add authenticity to the experience, so we had better prepare.
Each group will conduct a short research assignment and provide a briefing on one important topic of the period. Your briefing will take the form of a primary source gallery. A primary source is an artifact, document, recording, or any other source of information that was created at the time under study. Photographs, prints, video, and newspaper clips can be primary sources if they originate from the specified time and place.
Be ready to share your research with the class. By sharing our respective findings, we can all be prepared for this visit.
Getting the Green Light (symbol presentations)
F. Scott Fitzgerald uses symbols like the green light to develop his themes. Choose one symbol from The Great Gatsby to analyze. Present your analysis in a polished slideshow in order to explain how Fitzgerald adds layers of meaning to the object, person, place, or event and how the symbolism develops a theme (or themes).
Organize your presentation logically (like an essay). Include digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, or interactive elements) to add interest and aid understanding.
Analyze three famous poems and see if you can make connections to The Great Gatsby. You might identify connections related to theme, setting, point of view, mood, craft, speaker, tone, imagery, word choice, structure, symbol, or anything else.
Level 1: Analyze As a Class.
- Can we identify the speaker of this poem?
- Explain the reference “So Eden sank to grief.”
- What is the theme (message) of this poem?
- Can you make any connections to the novel?
Level 2: Analyze In Partners / small groups.
- Who is the speaker of this poem? Who were the sirens?
- What is the speaker’s message and tone?
- Whom does the speaker address?
- What parallel does Atwood want us to see between the mythical sirens and our society?
- What connections can you find between “Siren Song” and The Great Gatsby?
Level 3: Analyze independently.
- What was the Jazz Age like for the speaker’s family?
- If “The Crash” has just occurred, why does the author say, “It was time to lay an elegant table, / as it is now; corporate paradise”?
- Explain the metaphor of the apple. (Hint: It helps if you know the story of Adam and Eve.)
- What connections can you make to The Great Gatsby?
Modernism in Art and Literature
Use examples of Modernism in fine art to explain the movement as a whole. Use a specific painting or sculpture to guide your exploration. Explain the work, its context, and its place in the larger movement. After conducting research, make connections between the Modernism that you see and what you learned about Modernism in literature (The Great Gatsby).
Presenting to the class:
- Title and medium
- Author (and biography if relevant)
- Subject (and treatment)
- Artistic movement
- Modernism elements
- Message or Mood
- Techniques (creating emphasis)
- Related works or artists (This could include performances, architecture, consumer goods, etc.)
- Connections to The Great Gatsby (if possible)
Point of View Shift (creative writing)
Fitzgerald structures the telling of The Great Gatsby on the point of view of Nick Carraway. What if Fitzgerald had selected Daisy, Gatsby, or a third-person omniscient narrator to tell the story? The choice of perspective makes a profound difference on the telling.
Rewrite one section / event from The Great Gatsby from a different point of view. (E.g., you might rewrite the reunion of Gatsby and Daisy from Daisy’s point of view.) You may choose a different first-person narrator or a detached third-person narrator (omniscient or limited).
Be consistent regarding the sense of time and the tense. Is the narrator looking back (past tense) or telling the story as it happens (present tense)? This will impact the tone in terms of emotional involvement and immediacy.
The Great Fitzgerald (research project)
Literature experts may analyze works through a variety of different perspectives or approaches. These include the psychological, reader-response, formalist, feminist, archetypal, deconstructive, and social power perspectives.
You will analyze The Great Gatsby taking the biographical approach. Learn more about F. Scott Fitzgerald as a person and add depth to your understanding. When you learn more about the author, you will find clear connections to the novel.
Eulogy for Gatsby
Gatsby’s funeral saddens in two ways. First, George Wilson kills Gatsby in the prime of life due to a complete misunderstanding. Second, Gatsby’s so-called friends dismiss his life and death without a thought.
Add some meaning and reflection to Jay Gatsby’s funeral by composing a eulogy. Demonstrate a specific point of view and incorporate public speaking devices.
Point of view options:
- You, the reader
- Tom Buchanan
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- A minister
- Henry C. Gatz (father)
- Owl Eyes
Despicable Them (characterization & social media)
The Great Gatsby demonstrates why readers should pay attention to character names. An author might simply want the name to sound right for the character’s personality and background, or the author might go so far as imbuing the name with symbolic meaning.
Fitzgerald crafts the names and all the other details of his characters carefully. Think about the character names in the novel. Can you offer any theories or insights?
- Gatz / Gatsby: gat is slang for gun (from Gatling gun)
- Jay: a bird
- Daisy and Myrtle: both are flowers
- Fay: a fairy, as in “elves and evil fays.”
- Buchanan: Scottish, “House of the Canon” in Gaelic
- Nick: patron saint of sailors; an “everyman” sort of name
- Carraway: A domestic seed. Might his name mean “care away?” Is he caring but distant? Does it mean that he does not care (away from care)? Is he getting carried away during the story?
- Jordan: a river; gender-neutrality may be meaningful here
- Wolfsheim: “Wolf home” in German
In this The Great Gatsby final project you will illustrate the characterization in the novel using social media. Choose one character and create posts on their behalf. Tip: It is easy to create a reaction post. Perhaps the character is reflecting on an event in the novel, opining on a current event, reviewing a play, or critiquing a restaurant.
We will come back together as a class to ask…
- Which character is the most despicable?
- What moral or message does each character help develop?
The Not-So-Great Gatsby Debate
Many consider F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby “the Great American Novel.” This is clearly a matter of opinion. However, in recent decades, more American high schoolers read The Great Gatsby than any other novel (Stallworth and Gibbons).
Does The Great Gatsby deserve this position of dominance and reverence in the canon of American literature? Do we dare question its long-lived supremacy? Do its themes and qualities truly stand above the rest, or is this a crumbling monument that we visit out of habit?
Criteria of Greatness:
How would you define the Great American Novel? Which aspects or qualities matter most?
Identify relevant criteria and assign each a point value to reflect its relative importance.
- Literary excellence (symbolism and stuff): 20 points
- Diversity and diverse perspectives: 30 points
- Relevance over time (long lasting): 10 points
Team debate: Great or Not So Great?
RESOLUTION: “The Great Gatsby does NOT merit its dominant literary position in American schools.”
Preparation: Use the TEAM DEBATE HANDOUT to guide your efforts.
- “Why Gatsby Is So Great” by Jay McInerney
- “We’re Still Reading — and Changing Our Minds About — Gatsby” by Parul Sehgal
- “I Hate The Great Gatsby” by Aron Ravin
- “The World’s Most Misunderstood Novel” by Hephzibah Anderson
Theme Reflection (personal essay)
Write a personal essay inspired by a theme explored in The Great Gatsby. You might completely endorse the message, reject the idea vehemently, or elucidate a nuanced view. Assume that your reader knows The Great Gatsby and feel free to make relevant connections; however, a personal essay is focused on you.
Start by choosing one of the novel’s theme subjects:
- Family background
- Love / Romance
- Wealth / poverty
- Morality / immorality
- Gender / Sexism
- Ostentation (showing off)
- The past / memory
- Death / loss
- Social class
- Friendship / connection
Viewing Guide and Film Review (2013 version)
Related Post: The Great Gatsby Viewing Guide and Review Assignment
Write a review of the 2013 film adaptation based on your expert knowledge of The Great Gatsby. What grade (A+ to F-) would you give this movie? What did the filmmakers get right? What are the film’s shortcomings?
Make sure to…
- Organize an effective argument. Defend your judgement (A+ to F-).
- Compare the original and the film adaptation.
- Support your conclusions with details from the film and details from the novel.
- Use appropriate key terms (theme, editing, effects, symbol, acting, camerawork, etc.)
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Whether you seek a typical school project or something more creative, I hope this list has given you a final task idea that you can use. If you like what you see, check out the entire unit which is full of creative assignments for Fitzgerald’s masterpiece of Modernism. The unit contains the materials for these final assignments as well as reading quizzes, discussion sets, final exam banks, and much more.