The Way In Which The Characters In On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway and Dorothy Parker’s poetry, conflict and compare with the ideologies of The American Dream
The basic principles of the American Dream came about at the beginning of the 17th century, where the European colonists settled in America, with hopes for independence and wealth - which are key ideologies of the American dream itself. This carried on throughout the 18th century too as more people immigrated to the country, with high aims to achieve wealth, it seemed that people saw America as being full of opportunities. It wasn’t until 1931, during the great depression, that James Truslow Adams carried out a study and defined the American Dream as what it is known as today. He stated that any citezen of any class could achieve a ‘better, richer and happier life’. This idea is also noted in the second sentence of the declaration of independence which states that ‘All men are created equal’ and have the right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. With strong ideologies like this, there is a great deal of critism and conflict that surrounds it, and this was seen following the end of World War I.
At that time many people suffered a loss of their direction in their lives, due to the both the effects of the war and the economic crisis the country was in. This caused many people to question the ideologies of the American Dream. Part of the idea of it was that anyone could achieve happiness and success if they worked hard enough for it. This fell under a lot of criticism as some saw it as being unrealistic and others thought it was too prioritised with the material aspects of life, arguing that the American Dream taught you could only be successful and find happiness if you have money and possessions. These critisisms were reflected in the literature, with novels such as On The Road by Jack Kerouac and Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and the poetry of Dorothy Parker, all representing these thoughts and frustrations in their own unique way.
Ernest Hemingway himself was in World War I, and was also wounded during it. He plays out some of this experience through the character of Jake Barnes in Fiesta, who is also notably the narrator of the novel. Jake Barnes is a World War I veteran, who sustained and injury during it which left him impotent. Jake and his friends have left America to live in Europe, which is a key indicator that the characters of the book are part of what was know as ‘The Lost Generation’. This was a term given to American citezins who had been left with a feeling of disillusion, which in some peoples cases were brought upon by the war. These people did not have faith in what the American Dream stated, and many of them fled America to Europe to escape what they saw as an unrealistic ideology. Dorothy Parker also dealt with the issues of the lost generation, as many of her poems carried those frequent emotions of emptiness and frustration which corresponded with the paradigm. Unlike Hemingway, who dealt with these emotions in a more serious and conventional tone, Dorothy Parker approached them with a sarcastic matter of fact manner alongside a high level of wit. Poems such as Dilemma, Observation and Resume show this.
Although Jack Kerouac was part of The Beat Generation, his characters very much relate to the issues of the lost generation. especially the idea of aimlessness and emptiness that people felt due to the expectations of them. The Beat Generation also mirrors the Lost generation, although it was a lot more extreme as it was more about sex, alcohol and drugs, the issue of the need to be free due to dissatisfaction with the expectations from society which had spawned from The American Dream was the key message behind it, much like it was for The Lost Generation, It is interesting to note that both these movements occurred after a war, which may cause the war to...
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