Literary Research

Why use research?

The purpose of using research in a literary essay is to find scholars who agree with your opinion. This makes your argument even more credible, because you are showing that experts agree with you. Some people are paid to essentially write literary papers. These people are called literary critics . Research that literary critics create is called literary criticism.

How do I find research?

We will guide you to databases where you can search through articles and journals that contain essays by literary scholars about The Great Gatsby. You will choose a quotation from a scholarly essay or article to use in your research body paragraph. Like using quotations from the book, you will weave the quotations from research into the text of your final body paragraph and cite them appropriately according to MLA guidelines. You will also have to create a Works Cited page that includes your source from the database and The Great Gatsby.

What will this look like?

There are three parts to the literary research paragraph:
Sentence one: Transition + topic sentence
Sentence two: Introduction to the quotation + quotation
Sentences three- five: analysis of quotation including how quotation relates back to your thesis
Here are two examples of literary research paragraphs:
Example One:
One critic Ray Canterbury also notes the significance of the green light and its relationship to the American Dream. He argues, “early in the novel, Jay Gatsby is observed in the attitude of a worshipper, alone, stretching his arms toward a single, faraway green light… the visible symbol of his aspirations… But it turns out that Daisy Buchanan is unworthy of his vision of her…her pretentiousness, is a snare. Gatsby dies disillusioned, while Daisy lives on,
oblivious. So much for Gatsby-like hope, so much for… the American Dream” (Canterbery). Through his analysis of the novel, Canterbery says that Gatsby is a dreamer, whose obsession with the Daisy is represented through the green light. The Daisy he dreams about, however, doesn’t really exist. Because of this, the green light, and in a larger sense the American Dream, is unreachable.
Example Two:
Additionally, one critic, Scott Donaldson, argues that in The Great Gatsby money and social class placement negatively affect the characters and their moral values. At the beginning of the novel, ‘Gatsby seems to be living life to its fullest–he’s got money, cars, and a mansion. Unfortunately, Gatsby’s material goods do not seem to bring him what he actually yearns for, which is love. Gatsby ‘seeks fulfillment’ from his ‘obsession with material things’’(Donaldson), and he eventually ends up never being with his one true love, Daisy, because they have both become too caught up in buying and bragging about their material possessions. Love is put second in relation to wealth in The Great Gatsby. Society’s main focus in life has shifted from finding happiness to maintaining material goods.