A photo of an English essay has gone viral and divided the internet after it was shared by the teacher who marked it.

Comedian Alexis Pereira, who is based in New York, took to Twitter to post an image that revealed details of a paper written by a student, which had nothing to do with the assigned subject.

"Teaching my first English course this semester has been rewarding but I don't know what to do with this student," he tweeted.

The essay, which has been awarded a D, comes with a comment written by Prof Pereira in red declaring the student's efforts were way off the mark.

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"This was supposed to be about Tom from The Great Gatsby! The book we are reading!"

The essay submitted by the student was titled: "What Exactly Does Tom Want with Jerry?" – a paper about cartoon characters, rather than those from the assigned reading.

"In the Looney Tunes cinematic universe, many of the cartoon nemeses have a very clear goal," the essay begins.

"Wild (sic) Coyote wants to eat the Roadrunner. Pepe le Pue (sic) wants to impregnate Penelope. Elmer Fudd wants to shoot Bugs (and who doesn't?).

"But it is unclear what if anything Tom wants to do with Jerry."

The essay continues: "Submitted for the approval of English 101, I propose that Tom actually has no interest in doing anything with Jerry, but instead fulfilling his class role as 'house cat'.

"Heathcliff, Top Cat, Garfield, Sylvester – these are all famous cats, most of them cartoon."

The tweet of the essay along with the teacher's hilarious comments has gone viral since being shared and at the time of writing has over 49,400 retweets and more than 301,600 likes.

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While it is clear the student hadn't made any real effort to hand in an appropriate response, commenters who had seen the paper – and the teacher's comments – weren't convinced the work warranted such a low grade.

In fact, a few have said the student could have potentially earned an A for their inspired effort.

One person said: "This paper is way more interesting than anything they could've wrote (sic) about The Great Gatsby. A+."

Another added: "I would absolutely grade only on technical metrics and support this creative mind."

"This is already a million times more interesting than any possible further analysis of The Great Gatsby," said a third.

Others commenting on the thread agreed with the teacher but said they wondered if the student was "bored" or simply "unchallenged".

"Honestly I think they're just bored/unchallenged. Reading the start of this, it seems clear they actually did put time into writing it and seem to be a fairly decent writer," one said.

While another chimed in saying, "I would do sh*t like this (on assignments that weren't clearly a big part of my grade)."

A third advised the teacher to "zero the essay" and to make them write it again "if they want credit".

"But don't do that late-day deduction because that's a demotivator."

A few commenting said they were concerned the teacher may have displayed a lack of ethics by sharing a student's work online which has been subsequently mocked.

"The writing is terrible but the fact you posted it online should get you fired," said one.

"If this is a real paper then posting it on Twitter is deeply unethical, even redacted," said another.

Another: "Yuuuup. While our students may give us a chuckle with the silly stuff they do, we shouldn't be posting their work so that the internet can shame them."

Some said the biggest problem they had with the essay was the student had mixed up his "cartoon universes".

"Also Tom and Jerry isn't even part of Looney Tunes, it's Hanna Barbera cartoon! This student doesn't know anything," wrote one.

Another said: "I was coming here to say this! Keep your cartoon universes straight. There was never a Tom and Jerry – Bugs Bunny crossover."