American Fantasies Essay

2235 words - 9 pages

American Fantasies America was once known as the land of opportunity; people would emigrate from all over the world to try and walk down the streets paved with gold. This illustrious perception led to a concept known as "The American dream". This dream has been interpreted and portrayed thousands of times over and still manages to capture audiences with its powerful message of perseverance and ability to dispel chances of failure. Individuals not only strive for this dream, but authors strive to portray it. There have been many attempts at capturing the truth and struggle for this dream but few that has so brilliantly captured the true essence of this struggle. There are three works of literature that have managed to portray this dream, in each of the literary genres, as well as the truth behind it. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin; the short story of Bartleby the Scrivener, by Herman Melville; and the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. These authors have managed to illustrate the American dream and depict the corruption that indefinitely ensues. This captivating illusion, that they describe, has enthralled young individuals with the thought of financial and social advancement as real possibilities, where in their own countries they were not. Displayed as the purest form of optimism available it offered a cloak of anonymity to any that were willing to work for it. Unfortunately the assumption that money and happiness were synonymous exposed the darker side of the fantasy and revealed that no dreams are perfect. Through financial success, interpersonal relationships were worn away and the true decision between economic prosperity and happiness was illuminated. The overall validity of the American Dream was then questioned by many as the dream of fiscal success or the dream of true happiness. Through reading these works it is apparent that the American Dream has always begun as aspirations of financial success but ends in the hope of returning to contentment. This ambivalence is portrayed throughout each of the three stories, each one showing a distinct perspective; the combination of which renders validity to the notion that the true American Dream is not of fiscal success but of true happiness in one's social standings, whatever they may be.The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin begun as a collection of anecdotes for his son but soon evolved into one of the greatest accounts of a true American and his life. Known for his unconventional character and personal independence, Franklin began to embody everything that was truly "American". A natural-born leader and true Renaissance man Franklin had little formal schooling and was trained as an adolescent to become a printer. As an adult, Franklin was not only a printer, but also a politician a philosopher, an author, a poet, a scientist, a tradesman, a lawyer, and a military strategist. This great rise to wealth from humble beginnings was characteristic of the dream that Franklin...

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