Disillusionment of the American Dream in "The Razor's Edge" (W. Sommerset Maugham)

Essay by jacie_taylorHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2006

download word file, 3 pages 4.0 1 reviews

Downloaded 32 times

Originally a novel, written by W. Sommerset Maugham, "The Razor's Edge" is the story of an American man named Larry, who undergoes a transformation as he witnesses the changes in the world and his own life. Larry experiences disillusionment due to World War I, seeks refuge in France to "find himself", and questions the morals of society. The Razor's Edge entails several of the main elements of modernism, and Maugham illustrates them by exposing the darker side of the American Dream through relationships between people, society, and his or her own self.

The American Dream is a central idea that is constantly being invalidated throughout the movie in order to create the necessary elements of modernism; belief that America is the new ideal Eden, faith in progress, and confidence in the ultimate triumph of the individual's achievement. The opening scene is of a community having a picnic.

American flags surround the people and there are men playing baseball (Americas "national sport") in emphasis of America's vitality. The community is praising the departure of two men leaving to serve in the war; they are viewed as heroes because they are all delusional and their idealistic illusions of patriotic duties are skewed. Once the men enter the war, they realize that it is much more gruesome than they were anticipating. They witness friends die, attempt to help people beyond healing, and fight for life in the war-torn camps. This is where the men become disillusioned and lose their false ideals (remaining from the prior Victorian Age) about the world. America has lost its romantic sentiment, thus falsifying the first of three main points to the American Dream.

When the men return home, Larry has a difficult time adjusting back to American life and he acts secluded and offensive, especially...