The American Dream is a dominant theme in American literature essays and a driving force in our culture. On one hand, the American Dream relates to our desire for equality, that a person, through ambition and hard work, can achieve success, the same things that his/her friends and neighbors have. On the other hand, the American Dream can be very individual, the desire to rise above the pack. Some of the works in literature readers take an optimistic view of the American Dream and successes; other works take a negative view on the American Dream and focus on those who have failed to achieve happiness. Some typical topics and questions you can ask in your research on the American Dream include the following:
- How does a particular work of literature define the American Dream?
- Does the work of literature you are focusing on provide a positive view or a negative view? Be sure to include at least one quote from a literature text. Feel free to gather information from other sources to help compile your answer (direct interviews with the artist, discussion of the song by analysts, critics, etc).
- Look at one particular aspect on the American Dream, such as the African American and the American Dream
The American Dream has a definition that is as individualistic as the heart of each man or woman. It is not confined to the borders of the United States. However, within the borders of the U.S., the definition of and the ability to achieve the American Dream is often at odds with societies structure of who is deemed deserving and who has to fight for their own American Dream.
The American Dream has a definition that is as different for every person. It is not held to the borders of the United States. However, within the borders of the U.S., the definition of and the ability to achieve the American Dream is often at odds with societies structure of who is said to be deserving and who has to fight for their own American Dream. The best example of this is the black man, still struggling to overcome the bounds of slavery and prejudice that began as early as the first dreamers gazed at the wilderness of Ellis Island.
The American Dream is contemplated by both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois in their writing. As they dare to dream of a harmoniously integrated cultural identity in this great country, Washington and Du Bois have an important message for Americans, both black and white. This paper will examine the very different ways in which the authors present the problems and issues of a race newly emancipated, as well as the solutions suggested by each work. Though the main purpose here is not to retell the stories in full, summaries will be offered as a foundation for the main thrust of this effort. One might assume that so much progress has been made in race relations that the works would seem quaint and dated. Sadly, such is not the case.
When writing about the American Dream, your research paper should be looked at through the eyes of the African American who never had the chance to enter the country with glory and a lump in his/her throat at the marvel of Ellis Island. The photo by Edwin Levick that depicts the immigrants arriving in New York in 1906 shows Ellis Island as a symbol of hope for these people. However, in a sad contrast, the black man could never experience the joy of hope when coming to the United States. This was stripped from him, along with all his other rights as a human. This must be remembered when looking at how the African American came to his own in America.
It has been noted that after the Civil War, the industrial machine that cranked out thousands of rifles and cannons and war material of every kind continued to grow and expand in the reunified nation, turning America into the greatest industrial power on earth. The men who formed the new industrial revolution, who combined the various industries into massive trusts, men like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, cared for little else than profits. This era brought about an era of progressivism. Perhaps the most significant group to be given power by the spirit of Progressivism was African-Americans. Two great leaders-Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois-emerged with different agendas for advancing African-Americans towards equal rights.
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