Essay Example: The American Dream

Published: 2022-09-26
Essay Example: The American Dream
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  William Faulkner American dream Modernist literature
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1166 words
10 min read

People harbor an inherent need to better their lives. Modernization has created a world where happiness is associated with material possessions. Only a few people believe they can be happy without wealth accumulation. Pursuing the American dream is essentially the pursuit of happiness and opportunity. Many people believe America is a land of opportunities where hardwork gets rewarded. America's unique history has made people believe that it is a place where any person, no matter their background, can succeed. America was occupied by settlers from different parts of the world who went on to unite and form a prosperous nation. Michael Schudson, in the article American Dreams, discusses how anyone can pursue the American dream and hope for success. According to Schudson's article, the American dream is the idea or suggestion that anyone can succeed if they work hard and follow the rules. I believe the American dream is the people's quest for a happiness that has been associated with material prosperity.

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A house, a car, beauty, youth and talent are some of things that have been associated with happiness. Many people desire to live in an environment which can help them attain some of these material possessions associated with prosperity and happiness. In Schudson's article, it is stated that immigrants harbor an American dream even though they do not know much about the country. They simply believe that it is only in America where they can achieve their goals and live happily. America is perceived as a society which rewards hardwork unlike any other place. Even though happiness and prosperity can be attained in other societies and places, the liberal ideals, history and conditions in America make it attractive to many people all over the world. America is a multi-ethnic society composed of people from all over the world. It is a society where immigrants have prospered and found happiness regardless of their backgrounds. According to Schudson's article, the American dream can therefore be defined as living in an environment which rewards hardwork and allows individuals to attain the happiness associated with prosperity.

The American dream developed as a result of people's belief that things could be better and different. In Jim Cullen's book American Dream: A Short History of an Idea That Shaped a Nation, the Puritans are admired because of their tenacity and focus in achieving their dreams. Cullen discusses how the Puritans left New England and settled in North America out of their need to build an exemplary and new society of believers. I believe the Puritans are the first ever group of people to come up with the American dream. The Puritans were unsatisfied with the conditions in New England and wanted a liberal society where they could live life as they deemed fit. I believe the conditions in New England did not allow them to live happily which is why they sought to move away and start a new civilization. The Puritans migrated to North America mainly because of religious reasons and while they are among the first groups of people to move to America, they are not the only ones who settled there. Other groups and communities also moved to America for different reasons. There are people who moved to the Californian coast during the gold rush. These groups of people had dreams of living the good life and believed they could only live the way they wanted if they settled in America. The American dream was therefore characterized by the movement of different groups of people into America. The early settlers and immigrants were all looking for opportunity and a chance to grow and live according to how they deemed fit. Their focus of achieving their goals and consequently living happily is what built the American society.

People's belief in reform and change created a new and hardworking civilization that was abound with opportunities. The American dream united people who were on a quest to live better lives. However, it also created new problems such as racism and corruption. I believe the institution of slavery developed in the course of pursuing the American dream. As some of the powerful early settlers strived to achieve their dreams in the new land, they enslaved the weak in the society. William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily provides an illustration of the society which developed as a result of pursuing the American dream. In the story, Miss Emily is portrayed as a powerful woman who even had servants and a big house. Throughout the story, individuals of African origin are used as slaves and servants. Such instances illustrate the fact that not all the people who settled into America went on to achieve the American dream. There was a lot of inequality which arose. Even the person who presented Emily with her drugs at the store was of African descent. The American dream therefore created a society of hardworking individuals but it also condemned some people to unhappy lives. In reality, very few individuals achieved the dream. It remained elusive to many people including Emily. She was wealthy enough but had failed to find a partner on time and was therefore unhappy. One negative aspect associated with the development and pursuing of the American dream is that it forced people to live as per certain standards. Success and happiness were measured in ways such as the ability to own a house and being able to find love and settling on time.

The American dream is an illustration of people's need to better their lives and find happiness. Individuals all over the world have their own ideas of happiness which they keep pursuing in their respective environments. My view of happiness is being able to be emotionally contented. However, the contentment is affected by various factors such as money and religion. The American dream is therefore inclined to my worldview on happiness and prosperity. The settlers who moved to America during the early days understood that they could not attain happiness in the environments which they lived in. I also believe in staying in an environment which allows me to become the best that I can be. James Truslow Adams, in his book The Epic of America states that individuals are always striving to live richer and fuller lives. He also adds that individuals in such societies strive to be recognized for their efforts. Therefore, the American dream in essence is simply man's attempt of attaining happiness through living a fuller life. Individuals all over the world have goals which they hope to achieve through various means. Their aspirations and actions taken to achieve these goals is what is normally referred to as the American dream.

Works Cited

Adams, James T. The Epic of America. 2017.

Cullen, James. The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea That Shaped a Nation. Oxford UP, 2003.

Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily and Other Stories. Random House Publishing Group, 2012.

Schudson, M. "American Dreams." American Literary History, vol. 16, no. 3, 2004, pp. 566-573, DOI: 10.1093/alh/ajh032. Accessed 4 Nov. 2018.

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