American Dream: The Collective Imagery of American Values

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Every individual has their own dreams and aspirations in life. The route that they take to achieve these goals, more often than not, causes people to lose sight of their own morals and values. While the honest route is always the best choice, it may not be the easiest, which can cause people to lean more towards a quick way to get what they want. As author James Truslow Adams stated, the American dream is the dream of “social order” and recognition. The American dream is the dream of wealth and power, among other materialistic things, which causes values and morality to get left behind and compromised to the point of no return.

When trying to accomplish a goal, morals can often get lost in with the strong desire to reach it. Soon, all that matters is getting there;, and not the route that is being taken. In the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gatsby’s goal was to get the woman he loved to love him back in the same way. As a child, Gatsby did not have the luxuries of the wealthy. When he met Daisy, the woman he loved, and the air of wealth that surrounded her, his dream was born. He figured that if he were a part of the affluent society, not only would his life change for the better, but she would also love him in the same way he loved her. However, he did not fulfill his dream in the honest and moral way; he acquired all of his money through bootlegging. This novel was written during the era of prohibition – everyone wanted alcohol, but since it was illegal, the only way to get it was illegally through bootleggers. This process was how Gatsby got the wealth he needed to reach his dream; the promise of getting the woman he loved and large amounts of money compromised his values and caused him to lose sight of his morality.

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In addition to losing sight of morality, the pursuit of the American dream can cause one to forget why he or shethey decided to pursue the dream in the first place. An example of this is when a man wants to buy a car. He wants a car because he wants to be able to drive to work, so he can arrive there faster and on time. However, as he starts savying up to purchase this car, he notices that his friend has just bought a car. The man no longer wants a car to drive to work; he wants a better car than his friend to be able to show off and flaunt his money. Soon enough, he has enough money to buy a car, but he wants a more expensive care that looks better than the one that his friend owns. The original reason that he was saving no longer matters and all that does is outshining his friend. This example reflects the way that the pursuit of the American dream causes one to lose sight of his or her their own character. At first, this man just wanted to get to work on time and avoid taking public transportation. Now, he wants the car to make it known to everyone else that he can afford a luxurious car, and that he has more money than his friends. In this situation, there are no morals or values, and the genuinity of the dream has vanished.

Although it is evident that the pursuit of the American dream compromises the character of humans, some may argue that the pursuit of the American dream only has positive effects. However, it is invalid to argue this because not only does the strive for the dream end up with a decrease in morality, it also ends up in disappointment. More often than not, when humans reach the goal they sacrificed everything to achieve, they are left with an empty feeling of “what now?” that doesn’t go away until a new dream surfaces. Then, when that dream is achieved in another immoral way, the feeling returns and the endless cycle continues until death. There is never satisfaction within humans; they always want more in order to feel fulfilled. In reality, the pursuit of the American dream is a never-ending loop of disappointment and hopelessness. Just as let downs are part of life, so are Ddreams and aspirations are a part of life, just as letdowns are as well. The American dream is a dream that replaces morality and values with materialistic items and temporary power. There is no happiness in the outcome of these dreams, which is due to unethical means that are often taken to achieve the dream. People are compromised on the pursuit of these dreams; the real reason they are trying to reach their goal as well as the satisfaction with their accomplishment are nonexistent by the time they achieve what they want to achieve.

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American Dream: The Collective Imagery of American Values. (2020, October 20). WritingBros. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/american-dream-the-collective-imagery-of-american-values/
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