What does the American Dream Mean to you

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Although the meaning behind the American Dream may have grown and expanded over the years, it’s rise in popularity shows that it continues to be a relevant topic, and is proven to be attainable in modern day society. For while it has, indeed, only been looked upon as a dream, but it hasn’t occurred that people can achieve such a goal in modern day. By the influence of the American Dream has on each individual, it prevents them from believing that it is possible to pursue in their goal, regardless of the cultural background such as race, class, etc that it accumulates.

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The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of their race, class, gender, or nationality, is able to become successful in America if they work hard to earn it. The term “American Dream” originated from when a historian named James Truslow Adams referred to it in a saying in which the American Dream was based on. “That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.” Throughout the generations past, the definition shifted from the people’s dream of opportunity to the asset of possessing materialistic items; what it means to us today.

“But I didn’t call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone – he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness” (Fitzgerald 20). In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald attempted to show the readers a glimpse of what the American Dream meant to people back in the 1900 by foreshadowing through one of the main characters, Gatsby, by showing the idea of people constantly aiming for something greater than themselves. During the 19th century, Transcendentalists’ idea of the American Dream focused more on reaching one’s goals through hard work and honesty. Eventually, the Transcendental and Gatsby’s beliefs showed a great difference.

“Fleeing hardships such as poverty, religious persecution, or political unrest in their homelands, the immigrants came to America in search of freedom and opportunity.” (Schenectady City Schools) In the Ellis Island:New York Harbor, it is shown how the American Dream back then proves that people would often take every opportunity in order to become successful by showing immigrants that chose to overcome such difficult tasks—Steamship lines were held accountable for medical examinations and vaccinations of the immigrants—so they can live a better life.

“Later, she would marry, raise two children who went on to lead successful professional lives, and then earn an M.A. degree in sociology in her seventies” (Vinceparrillo). In the article True Immigrant Stories: Tanya at Ellis Island Tanya is shown how she started from something small into being this successful young women after working extremely hard and taking every opportunity she had like immigrating to a whole new place in order to live a better life.

“No one can define it or point to any one person or group who lives it, but it is very real nevertheless, perhaps more real than that equally we remote dream the russians call Communism.”(John Steinbeck) In the article Paradox and Dream the author indicates how people today see the American Dream which is that we all have our personal idea of what it means to us and how we want to accomplish that goal. This also demonstrates how the sense of the American Dream have evolved over the course of generations to where we are now.

To conclude, the American Dream is still relevant in today’s society, though it may have become much more difficult to reach but it has become our decision on how and what we choose to get to our goal at the end. Once again, the American Dream was once achieved by many individuals who strived to become successful. Even so, the meaning has changed into something much more different than what today’s definition of it is in which it is associated generally with people who are born wealthy and haven’t done as much so to earn the chance of achieving the American Dream. Although the Dream changed over the past decades, it is still very achievable, but just in a different sense. The American Dream gives people the opportunity to make their way into a successful career, even when they are born into a disadvantaged family. This is no longer the case because of the lack in the control of people that may not be given an opportunity. The American Dream was once an honor, but now is only glorified to an extent.

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What Does the American Dream Mean to You. (2020, May 12). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from

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