The American Dream. Success, Failure and the Female Dreamers


Bachelor Thesis, 2011

48 Pages, Grade: 107/110


Excerpt

Index

Abstract in Italiano

Résumé en Français

Introduction

Chapter 1: The Roots of the American Continent
1.1 The Native American Tribe
1.2 First practical idea of the discoveries of America
1.3 The English Colonial period
1.4 The Land of possibilities
1.5 The contrasts in reaching the dreamland

Chapter 2: Analyzing the American Dream
2.1 “Dreaming”
2.2 The birth of the terminology “the American Dream”
2.3 The possible definition
2.4 The wide spreading of its creation
2.5 The exploration of the American dream through Crèvecœur
2.6 Crèvecœur’s distorted vision of the dream
2.7 Dream turning into nightmares

Chapter 3: The female Dreamer
3.1 Towards the Expansion
3.2 The power of Women
3.3 The modern woman: the Flapper
3.4 The American Dreamer: F. Scott Fitzgerald
3.5 AnalyzingThe Great Gatsby
3.6 The Utopian couple: Gatsby and Daisy
3.7 The feminine’s presence inthe Great Gatsby
3.8 Ruth Forman: today’s dream
3.9 AnalyzingStoplight Politics
3.10 The Relationship of the two works

Conclusion

Bibliography

“Every industrious European who transports himself here, may be compared to a sprout growing at the food of a great tree; it enjoys and draws but a little portion of sap; wrench it from the parent roots, transplant it, and it will become a tree bearing fruit also. ”1

ABSTRACT

In questo lavoro si analizza il fenomeno dell’American Dream: si esaminano la sua nascita, il suo sviluppo e le sue evoluzioni sino ai giorni nostri. Le opere scelte al raggiungimento di questo fine sono The Great Gatsby, scritta da F. Scott Fitzgerald, e il poema nonché canzone Stoplight Politics di Ruth Forman, entrambe accomunate dalla stessa tematica del Sogno Americano.

Il primo capitolo si focalizza sulla storia del continente americano, a questo proposito nella costruzione di questa nazione sono fondamentali i primi “settlers”, una popolazione nomade originaria dall’Asia, generalmente conosciuti come indiani, anche noti come i nativi Americani. Verso la fine del 1400 il famoso genovese Cristoforo Colombo approda in America, inizialmente convinto di aver scoperto il Giappone, ma è nel 1501 che il cartografo Amerigo Vespucci afferma che il continente scoperto da Colombo non è il Giappone bensì Il Nuovo Mondo del Nord e il Sud America. Da questo momento in poi ha inizio il periodo coloniale. Il 1607 è una data memorabile per il primo insediamento dei coloni inglesi a Jamestown. E’ da questo momento che l’America inizia ad essere vista sotto un aspetto utopico e inizia il grande fenomeno del flusso migratorio: molti europei cominciano a vedere questo continente come una terra piena di opportunità, un vero e proprio sogno che può garantire un futuro prosperoso.

Nel secondo capitolo si pone l’attenzione sul termine ''American Dream'': si cerca di definire il periodo storico in cui viene coniato, quando appare per la prima volta e in quale contesto è utilizzato. Si evidenzia in particolar modo come alcuni scrittori e critici sono soliti definirlo, e si prendono in considerazione la definizione di James Truslow Adams e l’opera di Saint John de Crèvecœur. In questo capitolo ad essere sottoposta ad analisi è anche un’altra faccia dell’ American Dream: il sogno può anche diventare un incubo, da meta di realizzazione personale a un sogno deludente visto che molti immigrati partendo dalla madre patria si aspettano di vedere realizzate le proprie aspirazioni e ambizioni, ma una volta giunti a destinazione vedono i loro desideri svanire nel nulla.

Nel terzo e ultimo capitolo si approfondisce il tema dell’American Dream tramite le suddette opere ma usando il punto di vista delle donne alla ricerca del loro American Dream attraverso il lusso sfrenato presenti sia nella prima opera, The Great

Gatsby, ma anche in Stoplight Politics, nella quale la Forman descrive l’alta società degli American Dreamers sino ad arrivare ai giorni nostri.

In conclusione questo lavoro cerca di capire l'evolversi dell'American Dream in tutte le sue sfaccettature, anche con i suoi risvolti negativi, e ci dimostra allo stesso tempo che questo fenomeno oggi non è solo un semplice stereotipo, ma e’ ancora una realtà da considerare come l'emblema di una speranza sempre viva.

RÉSUMÉ

Ce travail se propose d’analyser le phénomène du Rêve Américain, en examinant sa naissance, son développement et ses évolutions jusqu’à nos jours. Les œuvres choisies sur cette thématique sont The Great Gatsby, écrite par F. Scott Fitzgerald, et le poème mais aussi chanson Spotlight Politics de Ruth Forman.

Le premier chapitre pose l’attention sur l’histoire du continent Américain. À ce propos, les “settlers” sont fondamentaux pour la construction de cette nation. C’est une population pauvre, originaire de l’Asie, c’est-à-dire les Indiens, aussi connus comme les natifs Américains. Vers la fin du XV siècle il y a le fameux débarquement du génois Christophe Colomb qui pensait à l’origine avoir découvert le Japon, mais en 1501 le cartographe Amerigo Vespucci affirme que le continent découvert par Colomb n’était pas le Japon mais le Nouveau Monde de l’Amérique du Nord et du Sud. À partir de ce moment-là on entre dans l’époque coloniale. En 1607 il y a le premier établissement des côlons anglais à Jamestown. C’est à ce moment que l’Amérique commence à être vue d’un point de vue utopique et le grand phénomène du flux migratoire commence. Beaucoup d’européens commencent à voir ce continent comme un territoire riche d’opportunités, un véritable rêve qui peut leur garantir un futur prospère.

Dans le deuxième chapitre on analyse le terme ''American Dream'', en essayant de définir l’époque à laquelle il a été créé, en particulier quand est-il apparu pour la première fois et dans quel contexte a-t-il été utilisé. En outre on met en évidence comment certains écrivains et critiques l’ont défini, en tenant compte de la définition de James Truslow Adams de l’œuvre de Saint John de Crèvecœur. Dans ce chapitre un autre aspect du Rêve Américain est analysé. En effet le rêve peut se transformer en un véritable cauchemar, et passer d’objectif de réalisation personnel à un rêve décevant. Effectivement beaucoup d’immigrés partent de leur mère patrie et ils s’attendent à voir leurs propres aspirations et ambitions se réaliser, mais une fois arrivés à destination ils voient leurs désirs disparaitre dans le néant.

Dans le troisième et dernier chapitre, on approfondit le thème de l’American Dream à travers les susdites œuvres mais cette fois-ci du point de vue des femmes à la recherche de leur « American Dream » dans le luxe effréné présent aussi bien dans la première œuvre, The Great Gatsby, que dans Stoplight Politics, dans laquelle Forman décrit la haute société des « American Dreamers » jusqu’à nos jours. En conclusion nous pouvons de cette manière mieux comprendre ce qu’est le Rêve Américain à travers tous ses aspects, et en même temps comprendre que ce rêve nous démonstre que l’ « American Dream » est encore aujourd’hui très présent à l’esprit des gens et sera toujours vu comme l’emblème de l’espoir.

Introduction

People have always had dreams. We could acknowledge that today’s dreams might be unrealistic because of corruption, however, the dreams that people has in the past were of a different nature: they were dreams that did not ask of much. Success only meant having the bare necessities: a job, food for your family, new clothes a couple of times a year, a house or an apartment, and maybe even enough money to commute by transit. Achieving this success, implied much struggles, sacrifice and hard work. Looking back at the scenario, it appears to have been a very harsh experience for those who had immigrated to America. As a result of the many sacrifices that were made in pursuit of their own personal and familial goals; such as monetary success and a better life of freedom and opportunity for their descendants. Their goals consisted of only the basic life values such as personal freedom through equal rights and opportunity that we today consider to not only be essential to life, but entitlements. Thanks to the millions of hard-working immigrants, and the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and protestors who have died in the name of democracy and the rights and freedoms that today allow us to live a better life: in pursuit of their own personal and familial goals, it was the first immigrants to America who also helped build and sustain what is today a global economic and military powerhouse and international authority - the United States of America.

Dreaming started from them, the main and most important dream of the history is the dream of a vital change; immigrants not only changed themselves in physical terms but also in a physiological way. In this work, what will be analyzed is the evolution over time of the famous phenomenon known as the American Dream. The next three chapters will mainly focus on whether or not the dream led more immigrants to success or failure, and also paying particular emphasis to how the dream was and is interpreted by most of the women living the American Dream.

This work is divided into three chapters, it is written in a way that enables the reader to understand the various aspects of the American Dream, starting from the discovery of the continent where the dream is best associated: the United States of America. Secondly, understanding the meaning of the term ‘the American Dream’, its formation and who has used it throughout the course of its history. Also in the second section attention will be paid to how the dream will be analyzed in a more current twentieth century context and understanding, nevertheless assessing the female dreamers through close analysis of a novel and a poem.

In the first chapter, the history of the American nation is taken into consideration. We will be able to acknowledge that dreaming was present since the very beginning. The building of the American continent started from the first settlers who came from Asia and were later known as the Native Americans. The discovery of the vast lands by Christopher Columbus in the 1400s and by Amerigo Vespucci in the 1500s will also be discussed and related to the development of the American Dream. Next, the first settlement in 1607 by the English colonial troops arriving from Europe will be taken into consideration; nevertheless it is thanks to these first voyages that the nation started to be known worldwide and attracted many immigrants from everywhere in the Western world. In the United States of America, people could have fulfilled their own dreams and striving for a better future. We will be able to focus on the idea of a person gathering all of his or her personal belongings and start a voyage towards the American continent. Departing from his or her home country with nothing and facing the Atlantic Ocean with a constant hope and during this harsh journey the only thoughts of the immigrants were his or her ambitions, goals, hoping to find better living conditions, better future, an employment and reaching wealth into this continent.

The second chapter focuses on the term ‘the American Dream’, its creation and diffusion, various aspects of the term will be looked at through close observation of the studies and uses of the term by various scholars over the course of history. Many experts that have used this term will be mentioned and analyzed such as: Frederic Carpenter, Merriam Webster, James Truslow Adams and Saint John de Crèvecœur. The last mentioned writer, has an optimistic view of the American Dream, but by the end of his work entitled Letters from an American Farmer, his dream turned into a nightmare, instead of reaching success Crèvecœur ends up having only an illusion of it.

Lastly, with the utopian dream, this work will also analyze the American Dream through the perspective of the female dreamer, in a modern day context, particularly in the twentieth century. This approach will be focused through F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most successful novel The Great Gatsby and in Ruth Forman’s poem Stoplight Politics. What both of two works have in common is the female perspective of the American Dream. They both analyze the American women dreamers in the American society. Through the first novel we will see how the American Dream is present in the two main female characters, by the use of their eccentric personality and their determination for success, luxury and fame. Secondly the presence of the American Dream in the poem, there will be a detailed description of two different women, who belong to two different societies: one from a lower class society and the other one from a higher class society.

This work will show the powerful presence of the American Dream and its dreamers over the course of history and still today. Also what will be proven is that the dream has many hidden barriers for those who have attempted to pursue it; therefore, it can be concluded that not every ‘American dream’ will come true. Next, it will also imply that the motivation and happiness for people to dream lies in fact that very little it impossible and so regardless of the barriers and difficulties of achieving the ability to live one’s dreams, hard work does not stop, and neither does hope. The American dream will be seen as a vehicle to drive to success.

First Chapter: The Roots of the American Continent

1.1 The Native American tribe

In order to understand the meaning and the development of the American Dream and also of the American society, it is essential that we should first focus on the history of the United States of America (USA).

It is fundamental to review some of the history of the first settlers in America; they were a nomadic population originally from Asia, when Asia and North America were still connected as one land mass. Even though their voice was abandoned and left behind, the culture of the nomads is important to review since they were the first humans to settle and establish in the USA and therefore the history of this nation began with them. The Indians occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans in the fifteenth century. No documents are said to have been left or found in romance of this ancient population, however what we do have are caves with insightful paintings inside of them; these are also a sacred symbol of art, they are nowadays found in the USA specifically inside the Great Gallery Rock Art2. These archeological remains are beyond our understanding, we do not know what they mean and the signification that is hidden behind their meaning. They date about 2000 years and reflect the past and origin of American Literature, because without what we may call this ‘Native Voice’, the history of the United States would be inaccurate. The nomadic population spread all over the American continent. We should highlight that the Indians were hunters and fishers in a rudimental way, they knew the alphabet of nature and depended on the availability of wild plants and animals for their survival. They loved helping one another, at the center of everything was “sharing”, especially food. They had various interests: they were great sky watchers and had a good sense of astronomy; they looked at the various positions of the sun, clouds and moon mostly for strategic crop planting and cultivation. The Indians base themselves on oral tradition, including spells, charms, riddles, and more. Known as the ‘storytelling’, words were and are still sacred and indispensable for Indians. Socializing is not only an entertainment, it is taken really seriously, it is about life or death to remember, it is a tradition, rules, it accompanies them throughout their life, it is also used as a means for survival: for example, if an animal attacks them, they are able to defend themselves. Usually told by the elderly of the tribe, it is told and heard more than once, each time more details were added and there was a great contribution from the listeners. The storytelling includes songs, poetry, not only expressions or general novels, but stories of their everyday life, rituals and manifestations, all which are based on real daily native Indian cultural experiences. These stories are true, they are told to be believed, and they are mostly within the topic of real life experiences. The act of storytelling is therefore intended to tell the story, with the tricksters, which is the term used to refer to animals such as the coyote, crow and rabbit and also with animated objects such as rocks, waterfalls and rivers.

In conclusion, the Native Americans had and continue to share a dream, similar to the many modern Americans who share a dream: the American Dream. The Natives are lovers of nature and everything is sacred for them such as water which is essential to their lifestyle and cannot be wasted: therefore, their dream is to continue preaching, striving for purity, and renouncing the colonization. This is particularly because they have affirmed that the Europeans have poisoned their land; a dream that differs from the Europeans vision of it, wherein the ‘conquistadores’ are primarily looking for individual success and wealth. Furthermore, there is the existence of various prophecies, all of which represent the patrimony of the Indians of America and that the history of the United States lives alongside various myths.

1.2 First practical idea of the discoveries of America

The unforgettable and most important step for the discovery of this nation is thanks to the Genoese Christopher Columbus that in the last years of the 1400s, asked Queen Isabella of Castile to organize and finance a naval expedition. This expedition had to dock at Catai, today known as China, a wealthy territory rich of spices and precious precious silk. The Queen accepted:

… Finally, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella agreed to sponsor the expedition, and on 3 August 1492, Columbus and his fleet of three ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Niña, set sail across the Atlantic.

Ten weeks later, land was sighted. On 12 October, Columbus and a group of his men set foot on an island in what later became known as the Bahamas. Believing that they had reached the Indies, the newcomers dubbed the natives 'Indians'. …3

At first, Columbus gives the island the name of “San Salvador”, he is convinced and will be until his death that what he has found is not to have been an unknown land but Cipango the actual Japan. Hence Columbus was the first one to discover the new land of ‘Japan’.

Although later with the voyage of the Italian explorer, navigator and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci, in 1501 the idea arises that the land discovered by Columbus it is not a part of Asia, but that is in fact a ‘New World’. Indeed Vespucci was the first to identify the New World of North and South America as separate from Asia.

[...]


1 J. Hector St John de Crevecoeur, L etters from an American Farmer. What is an American, Applewood Books: New York, Fox, Duffield & Company, 1904. Letter III p. 73

2 Great Gallery Rock Art, in Horseshoe Canyon. It is attributed to the Archaic culture and dates back to 1.000-2.000 B.C. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. <www.nps.gov>

3 BBC World News, BBC © 2011. History of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) <www.bbc.co.uk>

Excerpt out of 48 pages

Details

Title
The American Dream. Success, Failure and the Female Dreamers
Course
American Studies
Grade
107/110
Author
Year
2011
Pages
48
Catalog Number
V318863
ISBN (eBook)
9783668181984
ISBN (Book)
9783668181991
File size
1356 KB
Language
English
Tags
american, dream, success, failure, female, dreamers
Quote paper
Marzia Interdonato (Author), 2011, The American Dream. Success, Failure and the Female Dreamers, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/318863

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