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The “American Dream” is a deeply rooted delusion in our culture that afflicts countless individuals, and has both positive and negative effects on society. It can be a respectable wish for better living conditions, and perhaps followed up by some endeavors to accomplish that. But it can just as well take over a person’s mind, and send them plundering into an abysmal irrationality complete with a never-ending dissatisfaction with virtually everything in life. Historically, the “American Dream” was first a creation of the European imagination. Their conceptions were slowly shaped from the accounts of the first explorers and settlers. For example, Christopher Columbus strongly believed that he had discovered a terrestrial paradise and people of all races dreamt of an imagined America, a land projected into myth, a space of all possibilities, comparable to any other unknown land with the prospect of great opportunity i.e. (New Canaan, El Dorado, Mecca, and Arcadia). Before Americans even began to speak about the American dream as their own national motto, Europeans of all origins conceived the idea of a distant land with immense opportunity known as “America”. The prospect of a New World, a place where one could begin anew, and have the freedom to “create their own destiny”, attracted all kinds of people. And so, even back to the first conceptions of the “American Dream” the definition was vast and extremely vague. Once there, some immigrants’ expectations were challenged. Their “reward” was not just sitting on the coast of the New World, waiting for them. They soon found that the New World was filled with opportunity to make a new life—success was something they had to work for. Upon settling, Europeans had vastly differing objectives for success in the New World. The “American Dream” is so obscure and subjective that by nature it is essentially unattainable. Nevertheless, the Pilgrims sought the New World for the freedom it offered. For it was a place where they could practice their religion freely, and still retain their cultural heritage—whereas they could have moved to another county, where they would get the freedom they desire but have to endure cultural conflicts. And also, the more mainstream incentive, where entrepreneurs took their chances on a hunch for wealth and success; a hunch that the life in the New World would be more beneficial than staying in Europe. The American Revolution brought upon truly revolutionary ideas, within the Declaration of Independence, which have been engrained into the American consciousness even to today. The Declaration implemented a series of life principles concerning equality and freedom that later laid the foundations for sweeping social movements, such as abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement for women, and African Americans. The Declaration of Independence and its ideals are still relevant in cultural ideals considering it underpins a concept of the American Dream—a concept with fundamentals that almost all Americans agree on. To the Founding Fathers, “happiness” is not conceived as something already existent in nature, nor is it something that can be found, but rather it is made. The Founding Fathers considered “the pursuit of happiness” something all people not only had a right to, but it was also something that helped create a better society. The pursuit of happiness is the action of making the American Dream a reality. When citizens consider themselves happy, then their version of the American Dream has been realized. However, there are those who are not so easily satisfied. Whether it be stronger ambition/higher goals, or just obstinacy and just never being able to be grateful for the things that we do have, sometimes living the American Dream is just an unattainable for certain people. Of course, the quintessential case of American Dream taking over a person’s mind would be Willy Lowman from Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller. Willy Lowman’s story is a...
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