Against the American Dream

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In Opposition to the “American Dream”

Throughout the history of the United States, the definition of the iconic tenet, the American dream, has remained a relative constant: that with hard work and determination, any American citizen, regardless of background or disadvantage, can achieve anything they truly desire. However, the outrageously exalted philosophy has been, and always will be, a tragically falsified and laughably chimerical image. With the passage of time, the American dream has become increasingly difficult and unrealistic for the average American to attain. It is this difficulty that has manifested itself throughout American history and literature since the philosophy's inception, and has become precisely the reason why the American dream will forever remain just that – a dream.

The American dream may have once been realistic for every American citizen, but from early on in American history, this was already an issue, and the validity of the dream was already being called into question. What defined an “American citizen”? Moreover, what did citizenship matter if only a specific portion of American citizens held suffrage? Voting essentially required three things: being a man; being white; and (up until Jackson's pre-Civil War presidency) ownership of property (land). As such, voting rights were withheld from two significant parts of the United States population at the time: women and African Americans (who were more often than not, slaves, and as such, were not even considered citizens, but property). In addition, taking place during the pre-Civil War era is Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. As the book details with the escaped slave, Jim, living the American dream was essentially contingent on being born into a set of socially and constinutionally prescribed conditions (including race) simply through good fortune, thus proving that “hard work” and faith had very little to do with achieving any desire; fulfilling the American dream...
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