It’s worth starting the American Dream definition essay with clarification of this term. Each of us heard this phrase. Someone treats it with contempt without distinguishing from the principle of "bread and circuses", identifying the American Dream only as monetary wealth. However, this is not the case.
The mixing of the concepts of the American Dream and consumer society occurred in the minds of many Americans at the end of the 20th century. The very term American Dream is often used to describe a nationwide ideology that unites Americans. However, there is no clear official definition. Every US citizen puts his own ideas about a beautiful capitalist future in it.
You may write in the American Dream essay introduction that, for the first time, this phrase appeared in 1931 in the book "The Epic of America" written by historian James Truslow Adams. The author traced the transformation of the American ideology from the moment the foundation of the New World. Usually this term is considered one of the foundations of Protestant labor ethics.
The following concepts are inextricably linked with the American Dream:
Today, this unique concept attracts the attention of many researchers. If you need to write an American Dream argumentative essay, the material below will be useful.
The American Dream was originally a religious idea. It should be noted in “Why do immigrants come to America?” essay that first English Protestants who arrived on a new continent in 1620 did not dream of wealth. Their purpose was to build the Kingdom of God on earth, where human will direct all his forces to the flowering of spirit. In the eyes of the first settlers, the Pilgrim Fathers, the Puritans, there was no place for the Kingdom of God in the Old World. Catholic Europe which lived in low-lying passions betrayed the ideas of true Christianity. The spiritual life faded there. This land was doomed just like Sodom and Gomorrah used to be.
On a new continent, far from the depraved civilization of Europe, amid untouched nature, the Protestants hoped to build a new perfect world. In the process of its creation and painstaking work, the spiritual nature of human had to be purified and enriched. Work is service to God. It increases the wealth that Lord has given to people, and the result of labor must belong only to Almighty. The person who creates wealth only for himself loses own soul descending into the abyss of the sinful pleasures of the flesh. As the Bible says, flesh decays but spirit is imperishable, spiritual wealth is more important than all physical riches of the world.
For the first settlers, Protestants, the Bible was not just a Holy Book. It was a guide to life. All the actions of members of the community were checked according to the divine law. Following the biblical postulates, Protestant communities limited attempts of personal enrichment. The power of the community over the life of its members was absolute, as it was impossible to survive alone during the first period of the new continent's development.
But, when the subsequent generations of colonists adapted to the new conditions of life, family clans and groups of like-minded people created their small colonies. By the middle of the 18th century, separate individuals were able not simply to survive but also to create wealth only for themselves. You can mark this moment as a turning point for ideological views in your essay about the American Dream.
Adapting to new conditions, protestant communities began to change their postulates. A citizen who created personal wealth by own labor but allocated a part of income for the needs of the community began to be considered a virtuous person. Poverty was classified as vice thing, because it was a shame to be poor in a country of great opportunities. Low incomes indicated the failure of a person, the lack of will, character, and moral inferiority. The poor man did not contribute to the community. And although he received help of fellow citizens, he could not receive respect.
The biblical commandment "all people are brothers" gave way to the commandments of Success which became a kind of a national religion. America created a new civilization with a new morality - the morality of labor, universal competition in which success is a sign of God's love. All that leads to success, to wealth is virtuous. All that leads to failure is immoral. Failure is a confirmation of the depravity of man, and the ability to create wealth is a divine gift that allows to come closer to God. Christianity eventually adapted to capitalism which was deeply alien to the teachings of Christ.
Write in the immigrants and the American Dream essay that massive immigration from the countries of Europe began in the second half of the 19th century. Goals of that time were different from the ideals of Pilgrim Fathers. It was a flight from European poverty to an earthly paradise where "the sidewalks are covered with gold".
Only the most desperate, risk-capable, dynamic and aggressive luck hunters were able to leave their native country and go to the distant continent with only emerging signs of civilization. A significant percentage of immigration also consisted of a criminal element: murderers, thieves, scammers who fled from European justice to a land of complete freedom.
Note in essay about immigration to America that people arrived to the New World to serve not God but Success. For the European poor, material prosperity was more important than spiritual and moral perfection. Next to the bright dream of wealth, all other aspects of life lost their value. Passing through the American melting pot, the variety of human desires and interests just turned into sediment.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a French lawyer who visited the United States at the beginning of the 1930s, saw great advantages in the American economic democracy in comparison with the European authoritarian system. But he noted its specifics, which amazed many Europeans: the Americans' striving for the acquisition of wealth has surpassed the ordinary limits of human greed.
The availability of wealth created an unprecedented heat of struggle among the numerous contenders. Those forms of life that arose in this process differed sharply from the traditional norms of the Old World. This shocked Europeans for whom wealth was only a means for a decent life but not its purpose.
In the hierarchical Old World, wealth passed from generation to generation. The struggle for it took place only within the privileged, propertied class. Lower, indigent classes struggled only for physical survival. But America gave full freedom to all, and millions of people were involved in the struggle for wealth.
Unlike other countries of the world that were built on the traditions and experience of the past, America created its history anew. It was a society of immigrants. It evolved in the process of merging and interpenetration of polar ideas, numerous cultures and moral values. America fused the contradictions into a single whole, combined the pragmatism necessary for survival with the religious ideas and rationalism of the Enlightenment. A special American way of life different from the European one was created.
As Friedrich Engels wrote, America created its own traditions on the basis of concrete circumstances, and circumstances formed the necessary new forms of relations.
In new forms of relations, extremes merged in unusual symbiosis that Europeans could not decipher. Tell about the following paradox in American Dream research paper: religiosity, which is irrational in its essence, coexisted with a rational, materialistic worldview; respect for others - with aggressiveness; responsiveness and desire to help - with indifference to another's destiny; honest work and respect for the law - with widespread crime; faith in fair play - with a general tendency to manipulation of others; competition of all with everyone - with a desire for cooperation; extreme individualism - with conformism.
Contrasts arose in the atmosphere of unprecedented freedoms of the new country. It was a stormy flow all streams of which merged into a single and inseparable whole. It moved in one direction - in the direction of the growth of material wealth. Those forms and types of freedom that corresponded to the channel of the movement emerged inside it.
On the one hand, the freedom of individual entrepreneurship has led to the sufficient level of material comfort which was achievable for many people. In Europe, only limited circle of citizens could enjoy it. On the other hand, it’s also worth writing about second side of the coin in essays on the American Dream: in market democracy, individual freedom could exist only within the rigid framework of the requirements of the economy. The individual had to give up free self-expression in order to achieve personal success. The economic game required adaptation to constantly changing conditions. In Europe, conformism and adaptation were a voluntary choice. In America, conformism was not an option. This was the only possible form of survival.
In Europe, with its economic and state structure which was forming during the centuries, society placed the individual within the bounds conditioned by law, traditions and morality. Within this framework, people were free. In America, where society and state only began to form, there were no tools to control the heterogeneous mass of immigrants from all over the world.
Here, freedom could lead not to the power of democracy but to the power of ochlocracy, the power of the crowd, the power of the plebs, and ultimately to anarchy. Freedom was dangerous in these conditions. To curb the chaos of human will, to direct it into the creative channel, those qualities of human nature that were considered negative in the Old World and classified as vices were used.
One of the USA founders, Madison, wrote that, in the European scheme of civil society, it is asserted that people tend to goodness by nature, but this leads to the blooming of all human vices, and only the despotism of a strong state helps to keep citizens from destructive instincts. Belief in the virtues of human is not confirmed by life. When a person talks about freedom, he thinks about freedom only for himself. When he talks about justice, he thinks about justice only for himself. Not virtues but sins move a human. He is moved by egoism.
In Europe, the goals of society, nations and states were considered more important than the goals and interests of each individual. If to allow everyone to think only about himself ignoring the interests of everyone else, this will inevitably lead to the collapse of society. Universal well-being is created by subordinating personal interest to the interests of the state. Using all its might, the government regulated conflicts of classes, social groups and individuals.
But writing the essays about American Dream, you should draw the attention of the reader to the fact that there was no strong state in USA yet. Public order could be created only by the people themselves, by the will of millions. For many centuries, Europe has maintained public structures using a variety of instruments of encouragement and punishment. Starting from scratch, creating all social institutions anew, America had only one tool - economic, selfish interest.
Personal wealth could appear only as a result of numerous mutually beneficial economic ties which were based on consensus, universal agreement with the rules. One had to take into account the interests of others: colleagues, partners, suppliers, buyers.
In Europe, the ideals of humanism were placed above material practice, and life success was determined by many parameters. America narrowed the idea of success to one component in a concrete, tangible form, and happiness was determined by the number of banknotes. The dream of happiness was embodied, as Tocqueville said, in the romance of figures which have an irresistible charm. The cult of wealth has become almost religious. It was a special form of idealism. Tocqueville described it as follows: there is something supernatural, mystical in the incredible ability of Americans to acquire.
Writing the American Dream paper, you can refer to the words of one more famous personality. 100 years after Tocqueville, President Calvin Coolidge, in his inaugural speech, said that America is a country of idealists, a country of dreamers where any idea, every dream is worthy of respect if it leads to greater wealth. Centuries of painful thoughts of humanity about the meaning of life were left behind.
People were used to believe that America is the freest country in the world because every shoemaker could become a millionaire here. But, in reality, it is not entirely true. If all become millionaires, who will be the "millionaire"? A "million" is a symbolic concept. It means the sum of money which is unattainable for most citizens. Each person can't have more than most people. This contradicts common sense. But the dream has nothing to do with common sense. A dream is an ideal, albeit unattainable.
Americans borrow their convictions from folklore in which everyone can become a millionaire if he mobilizes all his energy and abilities. A rather dreamy person will never refute this generally accepted myth. In how has the American Dream changed over time essay, you may note that many modern citizens still share this opinion.
A dream can contradict life experience. But a dream is not an abstraction. It embodies itself in the system of social values, and the main among them is respect for others. A person can survive in any physical conditions, but psychologically, without respect of society, he will not survive. Society determines for what a person can be respected or despised.
In the Old World, personal qualities, the uniqueness of the inner world, broad and deep knowledge, emotional richness and high ethical standards have traditionally been qualities that ensured respect in society. In the New World, the uniqueness of personality was determined by the uniqueness of the bank account and, in order to become an interesting personality, to earn respect, it was necessary to become a "millionaire". It was unbearable for poor citizens to feel like a nonentity in the eyes of the surrounding people.
Public respect was determined by the amount of wealth and, above all, by money, and the criteria for monetary status were constantly changing. Until the middle of the 19th century, the owner of several hundred thousand dollars was considered a rich man. In the second half of the 19th century, a millionaire had the same prestige, in the last decades of the twentieth century - a billionaire. The pursuit of a dream has no end.
Writing a persuasive essay “Whether it is possible to earn American Dream?”, you may refer to the words of Scott Fitzgerald. In the novel "The Great Gatsby", he wrote that the dream is always ahead. The closer we get to it, the farther it goes to the future. But it does not matter. It is always possible to run faster. And then one fine morning...
Or, as it was said in the old joke of the Soviet time, communism is a horizon line that becomes more distant as it approaches. What common traces USA and Soviet Union can have? The purpose of the Soviet and American Dream was identical - the growth of material wealth.
The only difference is that the American Dream is a dream of individual material success, the Soviet dream was a dream of universal, collective material well-being. But both dreams grew out of the same soil, from the idea of Progress, the need for non-stop industrial development. The goal of the industry was to move to a constantly retreating target.
The main postulate of Progress is the conquest of nature - not only surrounding world but also the nature of human himself. In the process of adaptation to the changing conditions of life, a person must constantly change, and only this ability gives him the opportunity to survive.
Extreme example of such conquest of nature which may be presented in achieving the American Dream essay is the history of the state of Georgia which began from a colony for exiled criminals. Having set foot on the new land, British prisoners got freedom - the freedom to survive in the wild world in the absence of any civilization and state, the freedom to cultivate land which never met with the touch of a plow.
These people were able to work not for the landlord or the state but only for themselves. Work has turned British criminals into large owners of land and plantations, and their descendants - into aristocrats of the South.
In the development of Progress, work has become the main instrument of "conquest of nature", became associated with freedom. The slogan which stood in front of the inner gates of Soviet labor concentration camps stated "Labor is the path to freedom". In the German concentration camps, the slogans were the same.
"Who was nobody, will become everything", the propaganda of labor proclaimed in America and Soviet Russia. Work has become a new form of religion. Not without reason, the term "religion of labor" was widely used in Soviet Russia. The source of the term was American Protestantism, which, in fact, was the true religion of work, without quotes. Labor is not only created by material values. It educates a person, ensures that absolute social order of which mankind has dreamed since the time of Plato whose Utopia showed the main direction of civilization's progress toward an ideal society.
Socialists-utopians of the 17th century (Thomas More and Campanella), vivid figures of 18th century (Saint-Simon, Owen and Fourier) continued and supplemented the ideas of Plato. But these were only reflections, theories. In the twentieth century, they received a material base, developed industrial, mass economy. Its goals and direction were determined by the specific features of all countries of the civilized world.
In countries where state and political goals were traditionally considered more important than economic goals, the new order was built by state oppression. The total control was carried out by the repressive apparatus. In the countries of economic democracy, the instrument of total control was the economy itself.
Mention the following information in the American Dream in other countries essay: the Nazis called their dream the Third Reich, the New Order, the order established for the millennium; the Bolsheviks also had their version of the New Order, communism, the future of the whole world. America had the same goal - the New Order for ages, "Novus Ordo Seclorum". These words are imprinted in a one-dollar bank note, the main symbol of the American nation.
Previous centuries could not create totalitarian regimes. In a class society, political power belonged to a narrow, elite group and reflected its ideas. Thanks to the active participation of the masses in political and economic life, a basis was created for the emergence of a totalitarian society.
Utopias of the past spoke about the inviolability of the correct order, and the idea of the New Time emphasized the constant change, the growth of wealth. Utopias saw the "golden age" in the past samples. The twentieth century, the Age of Progress, saw only errors in the past. "Tomorrow will be better than today", the American press claimed.
American Dream college essay should reflect the important fact: the American Experiment which begun in the 17th century turned the United States into the leader of social change by the end of the First World War. The economy of consumption made it possible to create a new social order.
Freedom of individual entrepreneurship, of course, without any state pressure, led the economy of agrarian America in the industrial direction that created more products of mass consumption than handicraft labor. Mass production provided the masses with all kinds of material comfort. Creators and consumers of goods adopted a new order in which they voluntarily became the details of an economic machine.
The Soviet Experiment aimed at creation of an industrial economy began much later than in the United States. It was an attempt to achieve the same level of development that was reached by America in a peasant, agricultural country. Traditionally, the state was the only power of control in Russia, and the Bolsheviks used the authority of the state system to form a new labor class instead of the peasantry. In a result of state oppression, the peasant was turned into an employee of the agricultural industry and became part of the industrial labor force.
You can state with pride in the American Dream argumentative essay that USA has made tremendous strides in the creation of industrial production and has become a model for the Land of the Soviets.
In a pre-industrial society, the peasant was earning a livelihood on own piece of land that gave him everything needed, more depended on nature than on society as a whole. In an industrial society, the mass production of consumer goods provided not only jobs but also all means of subsistence. The industrial economy has become a powerful tool for controlling both the individual and the entire society.
The active participation of the masses in economic life led to the creation of huge, unprecedented wealth concentrated in the hands of the American economic elite, which enabled it to manipulate public institutions, create new structures of power, and change the life of the whole country.
In Soviet Russia, the political elite possessing a monopoly on the means of production of consumer goods managed to make cardinal changes in all spheres of public life. The complete economic dependence of the population on the state gave the party a powerful tool that subordinated society and brought up a new morality, a new consciousness, a new worldview. Moreover, in Russia, the society was traditionally accustomed to show obedience facing state violence.
In European countries, social policy was also carried out by the state, but the state was controlled by society. In America, the state was controlled by the economic elite, practically served its interests. "Captains of industry" formulated political and economic goals, created life ideals and world outlook of the masses.
The European countries created the New Order by destroying the old customs through revolutions. In the New World, there was nothing to destroy. The New Order was built on the continent without any signs of civilization. Working with American Dream research paper assignment, you may emphasize this fact as main advantage of USA over old Europe. America started from a clean page.
The French Revolution of 1789 proclaimed "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" - a generalized interpretation of the centuries-old dream of a society where brotherhood is the result of freedom and equality. The American Declaration of Independence seemed to announce the same: "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
But "Life", unlike the slogan of the French Revolution, did not mean freedom of the individual. It was understood as the right to participate in competition. "Liberty" was understood not as social and economic equality but as equality of opportunities in the conditions of individual entrepreneurship. There was no place for brotherhood in the universal struggle for wealth, and the call for brotherhood in the slogan of the French Revolution was replaced by "the pursuit of Happiness".
European revolutions proclaimed the heyday of the individual, the freedom of self-expression as their goal and result. There was a hierarchical system in which freedom for individuals meant a lack of freedom for the crowd, an impersonal mass. American civilization did not perceive the heyday of personality as its goal. On a new, uninhabited continent, only an employee was needed. All segments of the population turned into workers. In a free economy, the hierarchy of labor results arose. As one of the creators of the American Constitution, Thomas Paine wrote that the economy effectively implements the principle of universal equality.
The economy needs only one type of citizen - the person of the action. The economical activity brings the personality to the standard and thus creates a society of equal people. In Europe, one of the criteria for identifying a worthy person was the mastering of world knowledge, a high culture. But a person of action should not to know more than is needed for the labor. He perceives culture as a form of recreation, as entertainment, does not value the wealth of world heritage, and understands wealth only as material, physical property.
In Europe, the dynasties of aristocrats and a bourgeois class inherited wealth from generation to generation along with culture. In the United States, there was neither a hereditary aristocracy, nor an established bourgeois class. Local elite consisted of those who climbed up from the bottom. Public classes differed from each other not by education, culture and manners - only by economic status.
In Europe, high society connected its life with literature, theater, philosophy. Market circus played the role of the culture for the ordinary citizens. As America is a land of workers, market circus became a culture for all classes. Therefore, earlier than in other countries, a mass culture of spectacle has grown here. In the second half of the twentieth century, it began a victorious procession throughout the rest of the world.
Mention the following positive factor in American ideals essay: the economy, becoming the main goal of US democracy, pulled people out of poverty which humiliated their dignity, created the material basis for a full-fledged life, and provided material comfort. Culture was a form of recreation, entertainment for free time. It helped to ensure well-being in the emotional sphere.
Interesting fact for money and the American Dream essay: Marx foresaw that, under capitalism, the economy would cease to be a separate sphere of society's life, occupy all the public space and create those forms of life that correspond to the goals of the economy.
The works of Marx were largely built not so much on analysis as on conjectures. Many of them were not confirmed. But the conjecture that the economy will become the main content and meaning of social life in the future was a brilliant insight. The economy, having become the center of public interests, ceased to serve society. It began to serve only itself.
Marx was the first to see the contradiction between the interests of the economy and goals of human life. This phenomenon may be characterized as alienation. In the process of increasing the importance of the economy in public life, a person is alienated not only from the products of his labor. He is estranged from himself, loses those qualities that make him a human.
Prior to the industrial revolution, politics, religion and culture were the main tools for improving human relations within stable social conditions, but fundamental problems remained unresolved. The economy was able to solve these problems in many respects, and politics, ideology, culture, the whole life of society were submitted to its enormous force.
The economy proved its superiority over all other forms of creating a balanced social mechanism, and after the collapse of the last stronghold of ideology which was used by politics, culture, and economy, Western democracy abandoned the decorations of ideological formulas and recognized that Force of economy if the main regulator of social relations.
European civilization is called Christian. But Christian morality saw evil in this Force. Ethical norms of Christianity are love for others and compassion for the weak. Moral was aimed at holding back that creative impulse that the Force carries. The economy creates a new order destroying the old one. The weak only benefit from what is created by the Force.
You may state in “Can everyone achieve the American Dream?” essay that not a human, not a freedom of spirit, not a virtue create wealth. It is created by the Force in the forms born by an industrial society. This Force managed to realize the centuries-old dream of mankind about material well-being and brought up a new attitude towards human: he is respected only for what he creates.
In Europe, it was believed that the state is a guarantee of social and economic development, that it balances the interests of the economy and society. But the state, a cumbersome mechanism, does not have the capabilities that a free market has. It is a flexible structure which constantly adapts to changes. Regulating social relations, the state not only suppresses the creative potential of the nation in the creation of wealth but also limits all types of freedom.
Collecting the important facts and historical material for synthesis essay on the American Dream, you may refer to the opinion of Founding Fathers of the US. They saw the main danger for the free development of society in the state and sought to limit its power. Thomas Jefferson, creator of the Declaration of Independence, wrote that the state is the main enemy of society.
The first American president, George Washington, compared the state with fire. While the fire is in the fireplace, it is a kind servant. But if you stop watching it, fire will destroy your house.
Society can't exist without the state. But it is worth clarifying in argumentative essay on modern American Dream that citizens must learn to control this force which always tends to break out of the "fireplace". At the end of the twentieth century, it became obvious that another force - the economy - has the same tendency. In the period of crises, when the economy breaks out of the "fireplace", it becomes especially clear.
The history gives many examples when the state violently subordinated the society to the tasks contradictory to the purposes of a human life. The economy has an even greater power of influence because it uses not violence but conviction, a complex system of manipulation by the public consciousness that instills opinions, dictates ideas, worldview and way of life necessary for the system.
If you are one of those people who do not have time to read books, write “The Pursuit of Happyness” American Dream essay. This biographical drama had a stunning success in 2006. However, assignments with analysis of literary compositions are much more common. So let's focus on this type of research papers in more detail. You can consider one of the following topics:
The literature of the United States of America is the youngest among the developed literatures of the world. Apparently, that is why, from the very beginning, it insistently, with haste and not concealing its intentions, was looking for the answer to the question: what is the American ideal? The tension and direction of these searches is clearly expressed even by the names of many outstanding works: novels, plays, poetic books, journalism of New World.
In the US, serious literature has always sensitively perceived reality (the course and contradictions of national life) and a motley spectrum of ideas about it. In this sense, it is one of the most realistic literatures in the world, because it was born "on earth not cluttered with dams of abstractions". Its artistic potential was revealed most vividly in the collision of the real and the imaginary factors. It can be said so: in its highest manifestations, US literature stands on the disagreement of American history and the American Dream.
When writing a positive review for essay that explains how Americans’ beliefs make it possible for them to pursue the American Dream, you can mention that, in US literature, there is no shortage of attempts to present the American Dream as the basis of national democracy, and its founders - as prophets and dreamers.
The first fixed American Dream was the image of a small ship crossing the raging ocean with passengers on board. They could hardly believe that the day will come when they would be remembered as pioneers and "Mayflower" would symbolize the "birth certificate" of American democracy. The greatest American Dream is described by the majestic lines of the Declaration of Independence which is based on the Constitution. US nation is the only one in the world that is proud of its ideal and which gave it the name "American Dream".
Some litterateurs believe that the notion of American Dream is relevant only to the distant past of American history and is completely inapplicable for the XX-XXI centuries. You can call this conclusion quite hasty in “Is the American Dream still possible?” essay. In fact, the current state of the American Dream, its evolution and transformation into "American tragedy" are also inside the field of research.
Another concept considers the entire history of modern American literature, beginning with T. Dreiser and ending with the works of the 1970s. It is difficult not to agree that the topic is not exhausted, the literature must return to it again and again comparing the Ideal with changing reality, penetrating deeper into the existing contradictions, the dialectics of social processes, phenomena of psychological and moral life which are somehow connected with faith in the Dream and attempts of its practical implementation.
In the course of the study of modern American literature, interesting attempts are being made to define the American Dream: this is the total idea of America's ideal future arising in the works of US writers, beginning with Cooper and ending with many modern prose writers.
Analyzing the American Dream, its social and historical content, its evolution in the spiritual culture and public consciousness of US, the authors rely on the research already done in the literature. At the same time, it should be emphasized that their approach to the topic is not limited to considering the fate of fictional characters. First of all, the authors try to trace the historical origins of the American Dream, its connection with different periods of US history. In the context of this work, some ideological components are analyzed, in particular, the "ethics of success", the concept of "equal opportunities", etc.
An important subject for the “Cultural identity and the American Dream” essay is an analysis of how the Ideal and its evolution are reflected in the spiritual culture of America, in its morals, ideas about the future, in various forms of art: literature, cinema, drama.
“The Great Gatsby” is considered one of the most vivid works of art touching upon the theme of the American Dream. Therefore, many students choose exactly the plot of this novel as a soil for reflection. Let's talk about what information you can offer to readers of your essay about the American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”.
This literary work shows how the American Dream unconsciously occupies the mind of protagonist Jay Gatsby. The rules that he prescribed for himself in youth play the role of code of conduct for each believer in the "dream" and are firmly committed to diligence, frugality, sober calculation and hard work aimed at paving the way in life, at proving that the chances are equal for all and only the qualities of the person himself are decisive.
However, Gatsby also was guided by aspirations of a completely different kind - not utilitarian. And such aspirations suited the "dream" too. Jay believed that, in America, a person is free to choose his destiny and nothing prevents him from living in harmony with own soul. In a country where everyone has enough space under the sun and can choose among a multitude of paths, the person is boundlessly free and may become "naturally" happy as Adam was free and happy in the Garden of Eden.
And, using own right to happiness, to personal independence, material prosperity, family well-being, a person thereby restores harmony of social relations. By affirming own individuality, he helps to improve the human community in the foundation of which personal courage, honest work and mutual responsibility lie.
In some respects, Gatsby is an absolute "new Adam". American literature saw a lot of such characters before Fitzgerald. But in the 1920s, something was seriously shaken in the notion of a "dream". Perhaps, for the first time, the "dream" itself began to be realized as a tragic illusion. Mention about this important moment in “How does The Great Gatsby demonstrate the death of the American Dream?” essay.
"Legend" accompanied Fitzgerald himself prompting the writer to go to Europe in the spring of 1924 with the only purpose - to leave the old life forever. After reading the work sent by Fitzgerald from Paris, his editor advised to describe the figure of the protagonist more clearly: to tell about his profession, past, interests. Fitzgerald refused. He persistently sought to create a sense of some mystery hidden in the fate of Gatsby.
Unclearness, vagueness lies in the very nature of Gatsby. A conflict of two incompatible aspirations, two dissimilar beginnings unfolds in his soul. One of them is naivety, the simplicity of the heart, the unflagging shining of the "green light", the star of the incredible future happiness in which Gatsby believes with all his heart. These are the features of the "new Adam".
The other side of his personality is the sober mind accustomed to the insecure yet lucrative game. Even on the happiest day when Daisy crossed the doorstep of his house, Gatsby was handing over commands to the branches of his "firm". We see dreaminess at one pole and practicality without which there would be neither a mansion, nor millions - on the other. The breadth of soul and unprincipledness change each other. From this image, it is evident that Fitzgerald was attracted by energy, strength and disturbed by the empty waste of forces. Use this contrast as a basis for “The Great Gatsby” is a criticism of the American Dream essay.
The means chosen by the protagonist are not capable of ensuring happiness in that way which Fitzgerald's "new Adam" imagined. "Dream" collapsed, partly because Daisy was venal. Gatsby strived to win happiness by paying a large sum for company of beloved woman. In reality, the result was not worth these colossal efforts. But, without the "dream", the existence of the "new Adam" is meaningless: Wilson's shot was like a dagger stab which, in the Middle Ages, was an act of charity finishing the man dying from wounds.
Why is Gatsby great? He is "great" in his role of a rich man with a mysterious reputation, the master of loud evening festivities which he arranged in the hope of drawing Daisy's attention. He is great due to the power of his feelings, devotion to a dream, a rare gift of hope, spiritual generosity.
He is great due to his steadfast adherence to the ideal of the "new Adam". But, if to use the metaphor with which Fitzgerald completed his novel, the ideal is noble only if the person swims forward without any interference, as if the water flow does not exist. In fact, we try to sail forward struggling with the water flow, but it just throws our boats back into the past.
It’s worth using the idea of the American Dream in “The Great Gatsby” essay because exactly in this literary work, for the first time, there was openly expressed disbelief that America would indeed become the "earthly sanctuary for a single person" someday.
In the final scene of the novel, Carraway saw an ancient island that once appeared before the eyes of Dutch sailors - the untouched green shore of the New World. The rustle of its trees, those that later disappeared giving way to the house of Gatsby, was the music of the last and greatest human dream. For one short, enchanted moment, the human had to hold his breath before the new continent.
But "one fine morning" did not come. Finishing "The Great Gatsby", Fitzgerald wrote to one of his friends that his novel is about how illusions may be exhausted. They give the world such a colorfulness that, having experienced this magic, a person becomes blind when it comes to the differences between true and false values. In "The Great Gatsby", the tragedy of "Jazz Age", its special, painful beauty was depicted. In the whole book, there are two series of images - contrasting and closely interlacing in a sad, poetic tonality of the novel.
Mention in “The American Dream is dead” essay that "The Great Gatsby" is an example of a "double vision" that the author himself defined as the ability to simultaneously hold in the mind two directly opposite ideas. They enter into controversial relations thereby creating a dramatic plot movement and character development.
The duality of the protagonist gives him tragic shades. The narrative is saturated with metaphors. Due to masterly contrast, they emphasize the double perspective of the events: the carnival in the Gatsby estate - the garbage dump adjacent to his house, the "green light" of happiness - the dead eyes staring from a giant billboard, the fragile poetry of the "Jazz Age" - its underside: rampant profit-seeking instincts.
Despite the fact that the author sincerely despised everything that Gatsby embodied, he considered him great, because the protagonist managed to preserve the purity of feelings, loyalty to the romantic dream in a world of debauchery, rudeness and callousness. The writer believed that sincere generosity, a rare gift of hope could make Gatsby a hero in another situation if he had not been so tawdry "great" in the role of a businessman organizing lavish celebrations, surrounding a way of obtaining wealth with mystery.
Unlike Theodore Dreiser who painted the image of Clyde Griffiths in his novel "An American Tragedy" (whose environment created a passion for money, selfishness, the desire to become successful, even through a crime), Scott Fitzgerald showed that the life, capturing Gatsby in tenacious hands and turning him into a scammer of international scope, could not take away and trample a dream, to take possession of his heart and to turn it into a solid stone, which often happens with others.
You can tell about the complex internal struggle in which Gatsby showed himself as worthy person in “Paradox of the American Dream” essay. Money, fortune, material superiority was necessary to Gatsby (as to the Cowperwood, hero of another Dreiser's novel) only to achieve his goals. True, these people had different life priorities. But wealth was not a main value for them.
Unlike Dreiser, Fitzgerald did not focus on the ways in which the hero made a fortune, did not show his participation in capitalist relations. This is understandable, since the writer was not familiar with the range of Gatsby's business affairs. But Fitzgerald could not hide protagonist's work in general, because he was well aware that the life of rich people does not pass on the beaches and in the country clubs.
He only emphasized that Gatsby obtained his power working independently, investing all his vigorous energy and abilities. It is an inspiring example for “Is the American Dream accessible to everyone?” essay.
All these features distinguished central figure of novel from the surrounding society. The writer's ambiguous attitude toward Gatsby is felt. He admires his energy, the power of his feelings and despises everything that makes a hero mystically "great".
Initially, the writer said that he was going to present the story of his hero's childhood but preferred to keep the atmosphere of secrecy and withdrew this scene turning it into a story "Absolution" from the collection "All the Sad Young Men".
In one of the letters, Fitzgerald reported that the image of Gatsby is associated with some sense of romance. The author did not deny the lack of disclosure of the main character of the book. Apparently, it is connected with the fact that Fitzgerald, according to his own statement, has never seen the whole image clearly. Writer was going to depict one of his acquaintances and then turned the main figure into himself.
The wealth did not turn Gatsby into an arrogant lord. Human warmth, responsiveness, some kind of softness combined with the firmness of a big businessman were felt in his attitude towards people. Gatsby did not forget about his father, provided him with financial support. The author endowed Gatsby with some kind of heightened sensitivity to all the promises of life, ability to respond to events quickly. They had nothing to do with flabby impressionability called "aristocratic temperament".
Emphasize this as an example of conscious use of the alienation style in the American Dream is leaving America essay. We clearly see the characters of the novel, but we can't feel them as living people with inner life. It seems like they came from another world. Describing the alienation of people from each other or their human nature, Fitzgerald also showed his own alienation from them.
He is recognized as the author who was able to convey the rhythms, colors, beliefs, illusions of America of the 1920s with rare plasticity. Writer depicted how the country started "the most expensive orgy" in its history. The feverish "Jazz Age" found in Fitzgerald its chronicler and poet.
One of the most significant problems in the novel "The Great Gatsby" is society. Fitzgerald did not describe only one layer present at Gatsby's receptions but the whole population of the US in general. Jazz is the best definition for people of that time. Melody can dramatically change the rhythm. Or the familiar, quiet music may be suddenly diluted with the saxophone. So, people of "jazz time" were lost in search of themselves.
With amazing accuracy, Fitzgerald recreated the atmosphere of vulgar American society. If all the guests of Gatsby are famous or have reached a high position in society, why do not they act culturally? We see only obscurity instead of gratitude. This is what the higher society pays to the protagonist for his hospitality. Why do they come? Just for fun.
And it concerns not only the guests of Gatsby. In the post-war period, the whole population was demoralized. No wonder it is called a "lost generation". Such situation took place not only because of the "hastily" lifestyle, the short pleasures, etc. The main goal of life should not be concentrated on material goods as it happened then. Writing “Does the American Dream still exist today?” essay, you may note that we are not far from these ideals even now. In reality, human is created to enrich own soul.
Fitzgerald saw the decline of morals characterized by the alienation of human from the true destiny and the search for greater means of subsistence. Such trends lead to the collapse of society as a whole. Each person stands for himself: he can receive money, love, and happiness regardless of the state of the soul. But such person can create only emptiness.
The problem of Gatsby, who failed to separate his ideal of love from the ideal of wealth, boils down to the moral and aesthetic capitulation of human under pressure of the power of money.
The twentieth century, as it seems today for many people, have passed under the sign of the US domination. The leading role of the United States in world economy, international relations, military-technical and strategic sphere is quite obvious.
It is much more difficult to determine “subtle” indicators. What are the positions and achievements of American society in the spiritual sphere on the world arena? How important is the deep, ontological metaphysics of this society, which is unfolded in the global historical and social process? In short, where the humanity moved in a result of the American humanitarian and, in more narrow sense, ideological pressure? You should find the answers to these questions writing “What is the American Dream today?” essay.
Modern researches show that the American Dream loses its popularity. The ideas of the unification and prosperity of US society, the guarantee of freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly, idea of a country that may become an example for the whole world are being transformed today. In many ways, they are already turned into the idea of "American exclusiveness". There are various arguments in support of this conclusion.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the notion of "American exclusiveness" became widely used by social scientists in an attempt to explain the reasons for the weak spread of radical ideas among the American working class. The scientific community was actively seeking an answer to the question: why the United States is the only industrialized country in which a significant socialist movement has not been observed?
This problem bothered many researchers, because, according to Marx, more developed country shows less developed ones the image of their future. Proceeding from this logic, US had to become the strongest socialist country.
At the very beginning of the last century, the German socialist, sociologist Werner Sombart published a book titled "Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?" In 1927, Jay Lovestone, Secretary General of the Communist Party of the United States (later, an ardent anti-communist and CIA agent), defined "American exclusiveness" only as gradual increase in the strength and stability of capitalism, which prevented the socialist revolution in America. In 1929, Joseph Stalin, unwilling to accept the fact that America is resistant to social revolutions, called Lovestone's ideas nothing more than heresy.
Supporters of US exclusiveness say that America is a "special case". It is the only country in the world which, from the first day of its existence, was based on republican ideals and not on a common historical, cultural heritage, ethnic homogeneity or consolidated ruling elite. You may mention in “Who are the true beneficiaries of the American Dream?” essay that the policy of the United States always has been characterized by a system of checks and balances that have been designed in such a way as to prevent excessive strengthening of individuals or political parties.
Consequently, the United States retains free republican democracy, and citizens live on the territory whose laws reflect civil values. Another argument in support of "American exclusivity" is social mobility. The United States is known as the "country of opportunities", and Americans are proud of this. The government of the country allegedly contributes to the creation of a "launching pad" so that any person can easily climb the social ladder.
It should be noted in “What does the American Dream mean to you?” essay that the term was somewhat abstracted from its historical context in scientific practice and political journalism. Supporters and opponents of "American exceptionalism" began to use this term in the context of a discussion about whether the United States could stand "above the law" or be "excluded from the law", in particular, with respect to any international obligations. The terminological confusion was created. A shift in the semantic emphasis and a deviation from the historical context took place.
Defending the American Dream essay should convey the fact that many of those who adhere to the idea of traditional "American exclusiveness" agree that the United States must fully comply with international public law and act only within its framework. But, for the reasons mentioned above, "American exclusivity" and the messianic role of the United States are seen as an excuse for expansionism.
For contemporary critics of the United States, an American world expansion and aggressive foreign policy became the main counterarguments in the discourse about the uniqueness of the US idea. For example, the famous American intellectual Howard Zinn, in the book "A People's History of the United States", claimed that there are such horrific examples of the "immorality" manifestations in American history that this country has no right to be a model of virtue. In turn, the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr argued that America's belief that it brings an exceptional good will ultimately lead to a moral disintegration of society.
It's difficult to disagree with it. Historically, the United States is one of the most expansionist powers of our time. Use this fact in the essay on the American Dream and how it affects the most vulnerable peoples of the world. "Expansion" began immediately after the unification of 13 small colonies on the eastern coast of North America. Then, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California were captured in 1846. By the middle of the 19th century, Washington had forced Britain to leave a number of territories in the northwestern part of the Pacific coast and established hegemony in the Western Hemisphere.
Recall that in 1823, in a message to Congress, James Monroe, the fifth president of the US, proclaimed the so-called Monroe Doctrine. It stated that the countries of the American continent are a zone of the exclusive influence of the United States, and any attempt of intervention in their affairs on the part of Europe will be considered an act of aggression towards the United States. Moreover, the US reserved the right to preemptively strike the country threatening national interests. After the end of World War II, the geographical scope of the Monroe Doctrine expanded.
It is easy to prove that the idea of "American exceptionalism" is the basis for the Monroe Doctrine and all contemporary US foreign policy. This idea justifies any action on the part of the American leadership.
Today, certain circles of US conservatives think that the idea of exclusivity will work in their interests. According to polls, this is true. The majority of Americans (80%) agree with the assertion that the United States is a unique country due to its history and Constitution, which distinguish it from others as the greatest nation in the world.
Proceeding from all of the above, you can make the following conclusion in “Is the American Dream still attainable?” essay: the modern US idea provides the work of a giant imperialist machine - not an ideal that should find a response in the heart of any inhabitant of our planet.
It's worth emphasizing here that the cult of force is developed in the US. It plays the leading role in the establishment of Social Darwinism. In the opinion of American politicians, the racial "struggle for life" is an unchanging biological foundation of international relations.
Ideologists, geopoliticians and political leaders of the United States understand perfectly well that personal consumption, which actually determines the framework of the national ideal, has rigid "limits of growth". There are not enough resources on the Earth. So, you should be realistic while compiling arguments for “Does everyone in America have an equal chance to achieve the American Dream? essay. In modern reality, different sections of the population find themselves in unequal conditions.
Therefore, the main thing for US ideologists is to create in the public consciousness a model of the state in which citizens perceive everything done by Congress and the president (even if their actions are accompanied by murders and violence) as the only correct solution for a present situation. People should support even the most brutal decisions regarding any other nation.
So, everything is justified, because the Americans can live safely only in this way, both in their own country and abroad. This can be confirmed by the opinion of Alfred Thayer Mahan, one of the founders of the geopolitics. He argued that most of the world belongs to savages or to states that are economically or politically underdeveloped and, because of this, are unable to use the full potential of the territories that they own. On the other hand, high-civilized states accumulate excess energy which should be aimed at conquering new spaces.
Peoples which are incomplete in a racial regard and do not have political, economic traditions, do not have the right to own space. Anglo-Saxons, on the contrary, are the most developed race when it comes to politics and economy. Because of this, the Anglo-Saxons have the right to any space.
So, “How to achieve the American Dream?” essay should clarify that current US ideology is the ideology of the superiority. Many countries reject US cultural codes. But, in this regard, it is impossible to correctly understand the future of national ideology without involving the factor of historical dynamics. Modern philosophy focuses on progress which is presented as a single linear "upward ladder of time". Spatial, civilization, state, continental differences do not make any sense.
But in the 21st century, in the era of globalization, the world becomes increasingly closed and interdependent. The territory is limited, some peoples (which were in cultural, political and ideological isolation before) are connected to the common information space now, and this can't be ignored. Therefore, today, there are such geopolitical concepts (which have already become banal) as "clashes of civilizations", ethno-cultural barriers, North-South confrontation, the conflict between East and West, etc.
In such realities, it is important to understand that, with the existing national idea, Americans can't establish "new world order". You may write in “Public education and the American Dream” essay that a new paradigm of public consciousness should be formed. Educational institutions will become one of the most important tools in achieving this goal.
People will always strive for more universal and fundamental concepts, for example, such as religion. Although Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam are heterogeneous, diverse, have a mass of branches and sects that differ in many aspects, fundamentalism is inherent to all these religions. Today, most experts believe that religion is a more universal ideology for all segments of the population, for all nations and peoples.
The cult of force is the ideology of a narrow elite section of the population that has the opportunity to be at the top of the social ladder. “Education and the American Dream” essay should offer ways to bring the national idea to a fundamentally new plan in the consciousness of the younger generation.
American experts worry about the current atmosphere in society. It's necessary to find new basis on which the American Dream will be positioned. Otherwise, the export of US ideology to other countries will fail. Today, there are many ideas ready to replace it: Russian Orthodoxy, Chinese communism, the teachings and dogmas of Islam, etc. Moreover, it should be noted in “Is the American Dream a myth or reality?” essay that there will always be other countries with the same characteristics as US - countries and peoples who also believe in own exclusiveness.
It seems that the historically unique destiny of the United States is the result of a combination of many factors, and it does not concern specific aspects of the national character. In turn, the national character is the sum of all country's characteristics. Therefore, each nation on Earth is unique. It follows that the promotion of the principle of uniqueness of one nation or country can't become an actual and unique idea. Skeptics call this paradigm the main mistake of US ideologists. You can use their arguments as critical thesis statement about the American Dream.
The essay is a small prose composition in which the author expresses his thoughts, impressions or reflections. To write “Is the American Dream achievable?” essay correctly, you need to know the main genre characteristics:
If you want to learn how to write the academic papers, it’s necessary to take into account that many people confuse the essay with the abstract. But these are different genres. The abstract does not provide for the expression of the author's position and requires neutrality. Essays, on the contrary, are based on author's impressions, should surprise readers with paradoxes, frankness, vivid imagery. So, feel free to come up with funny American Dream essay title and to put forward bold thoughts.
American Dream essay topics
If a clear wording was not provided by the teacher, you can choose from a wide range of themes. The American Dream is such a contradictory phenomenon that there are a lot of conflicting points of view connected with it. Students may consider any of the existing topical issues or to start exploring own research area.
Focus on those aspects of US ideology that attract your attention and about which you have reliable knowledge. Here are some original examples: argument essay arguing how the social network represents the American Dream, “Sport and the American Dream” - a review essay, etc.
Important elements of “The America I believe in” essay
Despite the fact that essay is a free genre, it has several requirements and a certain structure. Literati who know everything about writing of academic papers advise to take into account the following rules, regardless of the choice of the American Dream essay topics:
American Dream essay outline
We recommend using the standard structure for the American Dream research paper outline:
The style of the text can be emotional, contrasting or artistic. The author chooses the tone himself.
How to start an essay about American Dream?
Don’t you know how to start an arguable essay about the American Dream? Consider several effective techniques:
American Dream essay hook
Hook is the most important element introduction. It should be a short provocative phrase attracting the attention of the reader. If you choose an affirmative form, the hook for the American Dream essay should accurately express your point of view, be presented as statement of confident orator. If you want to interest the reader and encourage him to think, it’s better to use the topical question.
American Dream essay titles
Despite the fact that the heading is the first thing that will get into the reader's field of vision, do not rush with this detail. The easiest way to create good titles for an essay about the American Dream is to deal with them at the very end of the work when the text is written and thoroughly checked. Then you can pick up a few words that best reflect the message expressed in the academic paper.
Once you come up with American Dream thesis, start thinking immediately. Otherwise, you can skip the useful information. If you do not already have ideas for the essay, search for them in the media. Television and radio often broadcast programs on topical issues that can be useful. Keep thinking about chosen American Dream thesis statement all the time, and you will become more sensitive to the topic under consideration.
The early start also gives you the opportunity to revise the text, to talk with someone else about it, to print the paper and submit it to the teacher on time. If you write your essay the night before the deadline, it will be noticeable!
It is necessary to use the strategic approach. Formulate a number of questions and, while reading the information on the topic, look for answers to them. Otherwise, you will have to spend too much time on research. Eventually, you will get lost in the figures and facts. The search for answers to pre-determined questions will help to avoid this.
Use a variety of sources of information
Students usually have a list of books provided be the teacher. Use the bibliographies from these books to expand your possibilities. You can refer to university lectures, but do not completely rely on them, because they are often sketchy or may contain incorrect information if you misunderstood something.
The most productive sources of information are often magazines, newspapers and constantly growing online resources. You can also consider “My American Dream” essay examples written by other authors. They will give you not only relevant data on your topic but also an idea of the style that is required for such academic papers.
Fix ideas at once
Write down ideas, discussions, quotes or examples when you find them. Without having written down the suitable thoughts at once, you will certainly forget about them. This tactic frees up the mind since you are not trying to remember some small details that can block creative thinking. In addition, try to use small cards that can be sorted in order of further consideration. It may be easily done on a computer. But the computer is not always at hand!
A few words about plagiarism
When American Dream essay ideas are based on literary material (quotations or summary presented in own words), you need to make a footnotes in the text and to give complete information in the bibliography. Always mention the original author. Otherwise, the teacher will think that you are trying to deceive him and to present someone else's idea as your own.
One paragraph usually considers one American Dream essay thesis or aspect of the central problem. The first sentence of the paragraph expresses its main idea, that is, explains what this section of text is about. But the paragraph can be divided into two parts, for example, if you have to compare positive and negative effects or consider several options of development of events.
Editing and proofreading
You can ask someone to listen while you read the text aloud. This can help to identify incorrectly chosen words, errors in the structure of sentences or illogical presentation of your ideas. Also you can do it yourself: record own voice to a dictaphone and listen.
Try to be as objective and critical as possible. Make sure that you have checked the spelling. Look once again into the dictionary as the computer may not recognize all mistakes.
We hope that the above information was useful and now you can easily create own American Dream essay examples. Good luck!
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