Honors English 11
September 8, 2013
The American Dream: From Innocence to Greed
The portrayal of the American Dream in literature has evolved as the United States has developed and prospered. In the beginning, the initial settlers in the Americas were searching for simple things, such as new opportunities and freedom of religion. As the country grew more populous, competition for success was heightened. Many people have different ideas on what the American Dream means to them. Over the years, American authors have used the theme of the American Dream to share their perspectives on society. Starting with Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the depiction of this theme has evolved with society throughout the years. This novel was set in the years that slavery was prevalent, which made the relationship between a young boy and a runaway slave very difficult. They crave to have no restraints and constrictions and strive to escape the controlling society that they live in. In his book, Twain’s idea of the American Dream is depicted as “a celebration of freedom, not only from physical structure and rules, but from the prejudices of Southern society in the age of slavery” (“The American Dream” 2). The two boys struggle to reach freedom and happiness together throughout the entire book.
The main character in The Great Gatsby also struggles for happiness throughout his life in Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. After losing his true love and discovering that she has been married to another man, he uses his riches and “high society” lifestyle to win her back over. He strives for money and fortune, but finds no true happiness in his successes. One article had a wonderful explanation of the American dream presented in this novel: “Through the character of Gatsby, Fitzgerald eventually shows that, while the rags-to-riches American Dream seems fantastic and wonderful, it is in reality shallow, as well as devoid of true joy and love” (“The...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document