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To What Extent Do Arthur Miller’s Works Focus On The Ideal Family Model And The Concept Of The American Dream?

1143 words - 5 pages

To what extent do Arthur Miller's works focus on the ideal family model and the concept of the American Dream?The American dream dates back to the 1600s. People began to believe in the possibilities of owning land and building successful businesses in this new, largely unexplored continent. Over many years, it has evolved to become the idea that any American is able to, through hard work, achieve wealth, health and happiness. The first person to acknowledge and define the American Dream was a writer and historian J.T Adams in 1931.[The American Dream is] that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position. [James T Adams/1931]Essentially, it states that any American could one day become president. Along with this is the idea that everyone should have the ideal family: a spouse and at least two children. Much of it's focus is based on the right to freedom and equality and that each person should surpass their parent's success. The major criticism of the dream is that it is not, in fact, achievable for all. Because of external factors an individual may not achieve prosperity through hard work and determination alone. It fails to address the struggles of ethnic minorities and single parents, or those living in urban areas, those renting as opposed to owning their own house or indeed anyone who has immigrated to the United States from a foreign country, often solely for the purpose of living the dream. Another criticism is that because it wasn't attainable for many, it became less of a dream and more of a cruel joke.There was a huge boost in the American economy during WWI and when it was over, it's effects were greatly felt. Unemployment was at an all time high and this planted the seeds for the up-coming Great Depression. The main cause of the Great Depression was the stock market crash of 1929. Towards the end of the Great depression an organisation called The House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was formed. Its aim was to investigate fascists as well as communists within federal government. Later it also targeted playwrights and attempted to put a stop to any play or film content that was deemed to be 'Un-American', plays that demonstrated against the American dream or encouraged Anti-American behaviour. In 1947, the committee turned its attention towards a group known as the 'Hollywood Ten', a group of writers, directors and actors convicted of contempt of Congress for failure to answer...

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