English III Honors
October 3, 2010
Greed: Corrupting the Wants and Needs of American Minds
Throughout one’s life, a person will strive to reach a certain level of success. Each individual determines what he wants in life, and to what extent he will go to reach it. However, as The United States of America has risen so have these standards, resulting in many people determined to obtain items they do not need in order to achieve the temporary bliss of being better off than others. In 1931, James Adams coined the term “American dream,” stating that it was "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” (Adams 404). Despite the fact that many of the citizens of America live truthfully to this dream, others would agree that with advances in technology and living standards, the so called “American dream” has changed. Another, more modernized version of the American dream has emerged stating that it “has become the pursuit of material prosperity - that people work more hours to get bigger cars, fancier homes, the fruits of prosperity for their families - but have less time to enjoy their prosperity” (American Dream). Many Americans have become more interested in having enough money to buy worldly and unnecessary possessions rather than living in a society where each person has the potential to reach his own goals. Throughout American literature, authors have portrayed how greed has intertwined itself with the progressing American dream of having material prosperity, resulting in a corrupt society. Born in 1590 in the Yorkshire farming community of Austerfield, England, William Bradford was at a young age when his parents died. As a child he was shuffled around between relative but never managed to find a permanent home. At the age of twelve, Bradford attended a church service in the neighboring town of Scrooby and was astonished by the radical ideas of the members. Time and time again he returned, becoming more involved with the church that challenged the ideas of the Church of England. When the news spread to the members of the church that King James I intended to imprison them, the congregation fled to the Netherlands. For twelve years they lived in Amsterdam but were harassed by the church. Soon enough, their pastor suggested that they make a new home overseas in the new world. They planned to live under King James’ rule but far enough to not be harassed for their religion. At the time of their departure, Bradford was thirty years old and married with a young son. On the voyage over, Bradford’s wife died after falling overboard and drowning. After the first winter, almost half the people were left dead, including the first elected governor. What was left of the congregation choose Bradford to be their new governor, and Bradford would remain at this position up until a few months before his death. In 1657, at the age of 67, Bradford died. (Kelso) In his personal journal, Bradford describes his journey over to the new world, and into a world free of persecution. The Puritans faced many difficult tasks while at sea, including weather. Fair winds and weather stayed with them for a season, but soon treacherous weather emerged and fierce storms shook the boat. At times, the storms were so strong that they would have to stay under deck and trust their lives in the hands of their god. Only one passenger died on the way over; William Butten, who was a servant to Samuell Fuller. Soon enough they reached Cape Cod and everyone rejoiced for land. After some deliberation, they decided to go southwest and look for a place along the Hudson River to settle. After about a half of a day traveling the Hudson, rough winds fell upon them, and they returned to Cape Cod. After getting onto land, the congregation praised their god for delivering them safely onto shore. They soon realized that they...