|The American Dream
What is the American Dream?
- First, the expanse of the American continent, then the
personal freedom protected by American democracy, and, finally, the wealth and
sheer energy of the American economy offer the opportunity (not the
guarantee) for anyone, regardless of race, color or creed the ability
to achieve success.
How is success achieved?
commitment to the virtues of American
citizenship: industriousness, frugality, and discipline you can gain a
first rate education. Add good manners, skill talking with people, good
communication skills, and you have the requisite skills you will need
to find your way into the marketplace. But once there, you will need to
have the imagination and decisiveness to commit to a business plan that
What do we mean by success?
- Material possessions are essential to the American idea
of success: a house, a family, property, the car, the girl, social
What intangible sources of esteem lay at the heart of our notion if
- Success may be the belief that in America we have the
opportunity to invent ourselves, to shape our own destiny through
self-reliance, independence and individual autonomy. In this way we
connect the American Dream to the central theme of tragedy: the hero
seeks to achieve a goal that incarnates the deepest desires of his
community, and his failure both moves and terrifies us.
- Unspoken, as well, is the assumption that you need to be
seen by others as a success in order to be a success. You have to be
seen doing it in order for it to count. Material wealth that is visible
becomes essential to the accomplishment of success: You have to be seen
with the car and the woman in order for the dream to be accomplished.
Money is a means to the end, but a virtual necessity in order to achieve
Fitzgerald and Tragedy:
- The Great
Gatsby explores tragic themes. Jay Gatsby's character
embodies virtues which express the hopes and dreams of America in the
1920's: our optimism, our belief that perfect happiness is
attainable. Gatsby's failed pursuit of Daisy Buchanan is not
simply a critique of Jazz Age social corruption. The failure of his
dream exposes flaws in the nature of the American Dream itself. Gatsby
demands more from life than life can give and refuses to compromise his
vision. This compulsion ultimately destroys him. Perhaps there is a sad
wisdom in Daisy’s capitulation to the realities of her society despite
their injustice. The only way we can gain traction in a world which
will not conform to our dreams is to accept the conventions of a
particular time and place and work within them. There is great wisdom
in this approach to life although it is a bitter pill to