How the American Dream is an Illusion
It has always been a human nature to dream about what their life or a predetermined future. The realization of such dreams has encouraged many people to set even predominant dreams than what they had before. However, few of such visionary minds have realized their predetermined imaginations. It is in this regard that the American people developed the urge to achieve predominant, future imaginations, which everyone anticipates the region to realize.
In his work, 1776 declaration of independence, Thomas Jefferson stated categorically that every American should be able to have “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” However, the realistic situation is the pursuit for happiness has caused more harm than good to the American people. Admittedly, several situations could not have been the way they are upon understanding that the American dream was an illusion. The efforts engaged by the economy in the pursuit of happiness were associated with the great depression; such an economic downturn could have been avoided if the American people did not have the predetermined mind-set of wanting to realize the dream. Apart from that, disputes launched by civil rights and immigration movements in America could not have hit the media stations and social networks if the American could have avoided living towards the American dream. Political tumults are related confusion that affects the public would have been absent considering that the Americans knew the unrealistic nature of pursuing the anticipated happiness. Allegedly, the American Dream seems like a beacon of hope, in reality it is a quixotic pursuit evident from the natural evilness of humankind, the supernatural quest for societal acceptance, and the failure to develop a true American identity.
The pursuit of happiness has brought about the inherent culture in people to believe that increased consumption of luxury and basic wants defines their level of happiness and indeed the American dream situation. The society’s way of defining or identifying successful people is based on the idea of acquisition of material possessions. Biff Lowman commented this ridiculous perception as he stated that, he looked in the sky, and realized how ridiculous his whole life was considering his socio-economic situation in the society (Miller 97). In this, the author means that is it unrealistic for an individual from a low socio-economic status to emerge the best (in terms of happiness and liberty) in the society. The inevitability of touching the sky according to the author is related to the realization of the American dream. In essence, opportunities emerge, but a few people have reaped the benefits and realized their dreams. For instance, in the beginning of the 20th century, the stock market was a lucrative business opportunity where any entrant or investor benefitted from the outcomes. However, (the pursuit for happiness) lured everyone into the business and unfortunately turned the investment opportunity the other way round; the market failed to perform because of inflation. The declaration of independence by Thomas Jefferson is among the documents that America identifies with the principles. The French philosopher, Jefferson coined John Locke’s ideologies that claimed, “All people should enjoy the fundamental right of life, liberty, and property”; the former added the pursuit for happiness to define the American dream. The author, in his statement, did not promise or gave a surety to Americans about the realization of happiness; the act of pursuing the goal is the only guarantee. This would mean that, the means towards the achievement of the dream was everyone’s plan or strategy, choice and creativity. With regard to this, the paper affirms that the achievement of the American dream has supported the acts of prejudice, warfare, racism, struggle, and outright meanness. This is not the American dream.
In his work, Starks (205) analyses the ways in which organisations and the economy works in an effort to perform to their optimal level. Categorically, he notes that, many firms in America have been restructuring their organisations by retrenching qualified employees and rely on nonstandard workers whose cost of management is relatively low. According to Stark, this is not how the economic situation should be because he expects that qualified people should contribute in the development of the economy by modifying the production process to ensure that quality output is realized. The author contends that, the majority supports the author notes that the minority controls wealth and the means to achieve them. This according to him is not the “pursuit of happiness” because he considers that there should be equality in distribution of resources. Miller (45-47) shares the same views; he observes that, after Willy requested to work from home, he was denied an opportunity to continue serving the company and therefore was rendered jobless. In addition, he fails to secure a loan for his children whose livelihood has not been good and they are back to their home for economic rescue. Lack of good working conditions as the two authors explain have denied the Americans the opportunity to live happily and pursue their dream because underlying institutional frameworks do not support their efforts. Hawthorne also reports such situations; in his work, he states that the unknown character lost his job after working as a custom officer. The loss in the occupation was associated with change in political leaderships that saw many people suffer both economically and socially (Hawthorne 57). However, Rather Dan observes that some people have realized their dreams through hard work and determination. The author gives an example of a chef who moved to Georgia and enrolled to study after the age of 26 years. In addition, the author uses Dung who escaped Vietnam to look for rescue in America and became a multibillionaire later. Antonia who elucidates that Sotomayor’s mother was raised in poverty, but worked hard to ensure that the daughter acquired good education (Antonia 14). The mother knew that the achievement of the American dream could only be achieved when the economy had literate people.
Musick and Wilson (17) contend that people refer to America as the land of opportunity, but the whole notion is wrong. The authors elucidate that, the American dream is about neither the promise nor the identity, but it revolves around the effort put by people and the reward they receive from their work. The authors share the same views with Stark in observing that, the belief of achieving the American dream is only strong among the upper class and not the lower class. The former clarify that, the socio-economic class in which one is identified determines the ability and belief of achieving the American dream. This means that, the upper class have a high chance of achieving the American dream that the low class and the middle class. In this case, they can employ discriminative measures against people in the lower classes to ensure that they realize their goals in life. The frequent amendment of the American constitution, which discriminates against African Americans and non-Hispanics, is a show of the impossibility of liberty and freedom enjoyed by the selected ethnic groups. For this reason, the 14th amendment was enacted to alleviate such problems, but various implementing authorities have never ensured that discrimination remained to be a historical phenomenon. The authors support this point by stating that the African Americans populate the American corrective facilities, a show that there is inequality in the legal system.
The act of pursuing the American dream has caused more problems as people struggle to realize this lucrative imagination. Miller observes that, Willy fails to understand his own life in relation to the achievement of the American dream and this failure makes him lose hope until he opts for suicide. This reflects the condition lower class people undergo because of the subjection to harsh geopolitical and socio-economic condition that affect their psychological status. According to Jefferson, whose ideology defines the American identity, this is contrary because he defines the dream from the level of satisfaction and happiness one derives from his endeavours.
Fitzgerald and Bruccoli (79) it is evident that the true picture of the society defines the people in it. According to the author, the society supports decayed social morals like rape, corruption, and egocentrism and greed nature in people who believe that the achievement of the American dream can only be by subscribing to such ideologies.
In reference to the American dream, people were not bound to pursue bodily pleasure as a way of making them happy because this act left other angry at others was happy. In the text, it is said that Gatsby has an extramarital affair with Tom’s wife because of his socio-economic influence. This is unjust because Gatsby is oppressing the weak in the society because of his influential position. Although his does this antisocial behaviour, he does not want his wife to see another man over the same illicit affair. This is not a rational decision one would take because he does not expect to be hurt, but he goes ahead committing atrocities, which he is aware harms the society. In this case, the American dream expects a situation where one acts in a way that will benefit the other and indeed the whole community.
After observing Gatsby life for some time, Nick relates the American dream to mere pursuit of wealth and individualistic things. This exact situation is present in American people; everyone struggle through all means to acquire wealth in order to secure a better life.
The same theme of greed and materialism is evident in the way the young generation was disillusioned after failing to achieve their dreams after the First World War. They are meant to believe that, the society does not appreciate effort put by people in pursuit of endeavours; it favours a few powerful people at the expense of others (Fitzgerald and Bruccoli (103).
Apart from that, the segregation of people according to their socio-economic statuses is a discriminative way of ensuring that the difference between the rich and the poor should always be defined or clear. In many people who believe in the American Dream, they are for the opinion that they anticipate a situation where no one is oppressed. Although this is so, the author suggests that Hollywood was the land of the rich, which defined the life of the upper class and their personalities. In this case, the” west egg” represents the land of the rich while the “east egg” represents the land of the low class.
The ability to wish for “big” achievements in life has always floated in minds of human beings. However, such anticipations have never been realised in most cases because of unknown reasons. In the of mice and men, Curley’s wife anticipates to be a movie star, but as time goes her wishes are not realised after she resigns to an unfulfilling marriage. In the real sense, anyone believing in the American dream would have expected that Curley could have ended up being a movie star. As the plot develops, it is evident that the power of women has landed men in many problems including rape, corruption and other antisocial behaviours. In the text, Lennie accuses George for raping her after George mistakenly touches her dress; the society has been indoctrinated to believe that men are always out to harass women sexually; sexuality is a double-edged affair and should not discriminate in favour of women (Steinbeck 26-28). Such unfair practices, inherent in the American society are among many reasons that explain the unrealistic nature of the American dream.