American Dream

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade August 2001

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The Modern American Dream The American dream is a widely fanaticized thought that portrays guidelines for achieving success. It revolves around the importance of the individual and the pursuit of happiness. The idea that makes this dream universal and versatile is that it can change indefinitely. Yet as it evolves, the defining characteristics of an individual's dream continue to be having love and feeling successful. In The Great Gatsby, Death of a Salesman, and The Grapes of Wrath, changes occur in American society that alter or corrupt this dream and everyday life.

Social morality has traditionally associated hard work and determination with feeling successful and achieving part of the American dream. Modern events such as war and technological changes has distorted the dream and lessened societies motivation to labor for it. The Great Gatsby epitomizes this decline during the material boom of the 1920s, which stressed unrestrained pleasure and money over more noble goals.

This is an era of social and moral decline, which is evident in the cynicism and greed. Easy money relaxed the stress to strive hard for personal success, and there was even more pressure to conform to certain group standards instead of setting ones own. Death of a Salesman also conveys the widening gap between what certain people believe the American dream to be and what it is really about. Willy believes wholeheartedly in what he considers the promise of the American dream""that a "well-liked"� man will always deservedly acquire modern comforts and be successful. Willies inability to recognize the dream for what it really is leads to his failure as a businessman and his psychological downfall. The Grapes of Wrath shows the extent to which some American families have to go to be successful at its most basic level, survival. The American dream...