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The American Dream in Literature Essay

What do you know about the American Dream? The American Dream is a very broad and controversial concept. There are many definitions of this term and it is difficult to choose the most appropriate one to explain it in detail. The most common understanding of the American Dream is the set of values and ideals, which reign in the public and political life of the USA. These values contain Liberty, Equality, Opportunity, Democracy and Rights. People treat this country as the country of vast opportunities. Everyone is able to reveal his potential and use his professionalism and skills in order to build his life in the way he wants. It will not be a mistake to say that nearly every migrant treat the USA as his final destination, because the concept of the American Dream still exists in the hearts and minds of millions people. No wonder, the problem of the American Dream is a very popular motive in literature. Many writers touched upon this concept in order to reveal its positive and negative sides.

The problem of the American Dream is very broad, because the content of this ‘dream’ has changed with the long run of time. For example, one can speak about the delusive American Dream of the 19th century and the vivid ‘dream’ of the 20th century.

Everybody knows about the Gold Rush and its consequences. Thousands of young and older men wanted to find gold in the northern parts of the USA causing harm to their health and life. Obviously, very few people managed to become rich and catch this American Dream. They lost their health and returned home without anything. The best writer who touched upon the problem of the Gold Rush is Jack London who took part in this gamble too. It is possible to learn about the realities of the Gold Rush when you read The Call of the Wild. Another book, which illustrates this issue, is Roughing It by Mark Twain. Of course, one must not forget about the book The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream by H. W. Brands, who depicts the problem from all possible sides. In my opinion, the Gold Rush is the most negative concept related with the American Dream, because it illustrates the elusiveness of this dream. To my mind, it is the blind thirst for enrichment, which cannot come true.

It does not worth mentioning that the most popular book related with the problem of the American Dream of the 20th century is The Great Gatsby by F. S. Fitzgerald. Its main characters illustrate the ‘ideal’ life of the rich and successful people who possess much money and can do everything they want. When one speaks about the material values, ‘the roaring twenties’ can be called the best example of the American Dream. The country developed rapidly and people could earn money quickly. The main character James Gatsby came from a poor family and he reached success with the help of hard work, mind and efforts.

Tom, Daisy and Jordan came from rich families and their worldview was completely different. Tom and Daisy praised material values and they did not have to worry about anything. They were carefree, irresponsible and infantile. James Gatsby knew about life everything. He knew about poverty and luxury and he could compare things; therefore, his outlook was broader. Furthermore, I can speak about the disillusionment of Gatsby’s American Dream. He did not make money to become rich. He used his material values to win Daisy’s love. Unfortunately, his dream was ruined, because she stayed with her husband.

In conclusion, the American Dream is characterized with the belief that the USA is the country of opportunities. When one works hard, he is able to become rich and have his own family, house and automobile. Different authors described this period of the American history in their novels, short stories and poems.