103 American Dream Essay Topics & Examples

If you’re in need of American dream topics for an essay, research paper, or discussion, this article is for you. Our experts have prepared some ideas and writing tips that you will find below.

📃 10 Tips for Writing American Dream Essays

🏆 best american dream essay topics & essay examples, 👍 catchy american dream topics, ❓ american dream research questions.

The American dream is an interesting topic that one can discuss from various perspectives. If you need to write an essay on the American dream, you should understand this concept clearly.

You can choose to present the American dream as a miracle that one cannot reach or depict a free and wealthy nation. In any case, the American dream essay is a good opportunity to reflect on the concept and learn more about it.

There are many topics you can choose from while writing your essay. Here are some examples of the American dream essay topics we can suggest:

  • The true meaning of the American dream
  • The image of the American dream in the Great Gatsby
  • Is the American dream still relevant in today’s society?
  • The role of the American dream: Discussion
  • Americans’ beliefs and values: The American dream
  • Can we achieve the American dream?
  • The American dream in today’s world and society

Remember that you do not have to select one of the American dream essay titles and can come up with your own one. Once you have selected the topic, start working on your essay. Here are ten useful tips that will help you to write an outstanding paper:

  • Start working on your essay ahead of time. You will need some time to study the issue, write the paper, and correct possible errors.
  • Do preliminary research on the issue you want to discuss. The more information you know about the question, the better. We advise you to rely on credible sources exclusively and avoid using Wikipedia or similar websites.
  • Check out the American dream essay examples online if you are not sure that the selected problem is relevant. Avoid copying the information you will find and only use it as guidance.
  • Write an outline for your essay. Think of how you can organize your paper and choose titles for each of the sections. Remember that you should include an introductory paragraph and a concluding section along with body paragraphs.
  • Remember that you should present the American dream essay thesis clearly. You can put it in the last sentence of your introductory paragraph.
  • Your essay should be engaging for the audience. Help your reader to know something new about the issue and include some interesting facts that may not know about. Avoid overly complex sentences and structures.
  • Make your essay personal, if it is possible. Do not focus on your opinion solely but provide your perspectives on the issue or discuss your concern about it. You can talk about your experiences with the American dream, too.
  • Provide statistical data if you can. For example, you can find the results of surveys about people’s perspectives on the American dream.
  • The concluding paragraph is an important section of the paper. Present the thesis and all of your arguments once again and provide recommendations, if necessary. Remember that this paragraph should not include new information or in-text citations.
  • Do not send your paper to your professor right away. Check it several times to make sure that there are no grammatical mistakes in it. If you have time, you can put the paper away for several days and revise it later with “fresh” eyes.

Feel free to find an essay sample in our collection and get some ideas for your outstanding paper!

  • Essay on the American Dream: Positive and Negative Aspects The American dream is one of the most revered ideals of the nation and it has become a part of the American national identity.
  • Michelle Obama American Dream Speech Analysis – Michelle’s purpose was to introduce her husband as man who was more concerned about the common citizens’ concerns and who was willing and able to help everyone to realize his/her American dream because he himself […]
  • The American Dream by Edward Albee Play Analysis The American Dream play is an apologue of how American life has turned awry under the pretext of the American Dream.
  • American Dream: “Fences” by August Wilson The American dream makes it clear through its guarantee of the freedom and equality with the promise of prosperity and success as per the ability or personal achievements of every American citizen.”Fences” reveals the obstacles […]
  • American Dream in “The Pursuit of Happiness” Film In America today, there is a general belief that every individual is unique, and should have equal access to the American dream of life “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
  • The Tortilla Curtain: American Dream – Characters, Summary & Analysis The cultural difference between the two families is introduced by the author as a theme describing the role of gender in the community.
  • American Dream After World War I People lost vision of what this dream was supposed to mean and it became a dream, not of the vestal and industrious, but of the corrupt coterie, hence corrupting the dream itself.
  • The American Dream in The Great Gatsby After spending some time in this neighborhood, Nick finally attends Gatsby’s exuberant parties only to realize that Gatsby organizes these parties to impress Daisy, Nick’s cousin, and wife to Tom.
  • American Dream and Socialism in the Book “The Jungle” by Sinclair The main idea of the book lies in upholding the Marxist belief of the inevitable collapse of capitalism and the accession of the proletariat, or industrial working class.
  • Portrayal of the American Dream in the 20th Century Theatre However, different analysts criticized the use of the amelting pot’ in the play to show the pursuit of the American dream terming it as unrealistic in the sense that the term amelting’ creates a picture […]
  • Willy Loman and the American Dream As a result of his boasting, a great deal of what his family knows about Willy is based upon the image he feels he must portray of himself in order to bring himself in line […]
  • Femininity and the American Dream in Works of Chopin, Gilman, and Williams Even though the general understanding of the American dream was advertised to everyone, the idea was more applicable to the male members of the American society, which is reflected in Chopin’s “The Story of an […]
  • Is the American Dream Still Alive? The American Dream can be defined as a summation of national values entrenched in the culture of the United States. In this regard, the minority groups in the United States are often on the receiving […]
  • Meritocracy and the American Dream In the perception of such people, the American Dream is directly connected to meritocracy, i.e.a judgment on people on their individual abilities rather than the connections of the families, and in that regard such perception […]
  • Whitman, Hughes, and the American Dream Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, two prominent figures of American poetry of the past, are of them.”I Hear America Singing,” “I, Too,” “Harlem,” and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” are the emotional responses to the […]
  • The American Dream in Arthur Miller’s Plays Willy has a distorted vision of the American Dream, and he has such blind faith in this inaccurate vision that it leads to his mental disturbance when he is not able to accept how the […]
  • American Dream of Early Settlers He did not tell the settlers of the difficulties they were going to face in moving from Europe to the land of honey that is America.
  • The Corrupted American Dream and Its Significance in “The Great Gatsby” The development of the American dream and its impact on the society of the United States is a pertinent topic of discussion for various authors.
  • The Dilemmas of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby is a story of a young man in the early twentieth century who seems to know what he wants in the way of that dream and what to do to achieve it.
  • The American Dream, Social Status and Hierarchies The persistence of social status and hierarchies in modern-day America undermines the possibility of realizing Winthrop’s ideal community as a goal for the current American Dream, considering his argument of wouldivinely ordained’ holds no traction […]
  • The American Dream and Its Roots The tension between the ideals of the American Dream as espoused by the Puritans and the realities of American life has been a recurrent theme in American history.
  • Tensions in the American Dream The imbalance can lead to debates and discussions about the meaning and purpose of the American Dream, as well as a conflict between the ideals of freedom and agency and the desire for a more […]
  • Support of the American Dream Act of 2001 In contrast to many supporters of the American Dream Act, some individuals claim that the policy promotes the entrance of illegal immigrants.
  • The Possibility of Realizing the American Dream Thus, according to the author, the American dream is only a fantasy. Returning to the ideas of Krugman, Cox and Alm, and Dalmia, it seems necessary to highlight some aspects.
  • The American Dream: Meaning and Myth Initially, the existence of this myth set a very high pace and performance for the American economy because it was the only way to achieve the desired level of prosperity.
  • Reflection on the American Dream Concept The vision of the American Dream can be different for individuals, and people create their interpretations according to their specific experiences.
  • Reaching the American Dream From Scratch For example, the experience of a person coming to the United States from Haiti is one of poverty, under-resourced communities, and a complete disillusion with the promise of a good life.
  • The American Dream Based on “Re Jane” by Patricia Park The main difference is that Jane had a chance to live her dreams in New York than in Seoul. Nina is an example of Jane’s friends who want her to succeed and understand the flaws […]
  • The American Dream in Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain The personal experience of the characters can be explained by their varying life conditions and, hence, are linked to the notion of the American Dream, which can be achieved by everyone while the efforts differ.
  • Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ and the American Dream “The America Dream’ is a longstanding common belief of the American population that in the United States, people are free to realize the full potential of their labor and their talents and every person in […]
  • Color Adjustment: False Image of American Dream The documentary tells the story of white, well-dressed people advertising the American dream, completely ignoring that the U.S.is not only a country of the white race.
  • The American Dream: Franklin’s and Douglass’s Perception The objective of this paper, therefore, is to discuss the topic of the American dream and how both Franklin and Douglass, each exemplify this dream.
  • The American Dream and Success One of the most pertinent topics associated with the American Dream is taking the courage to act and seize the opportunity.
  • The Concept of American Dream: Examples of Columbus and Bradstreet Bradstreet’s other dream was to be able to secure a position in the ‘New world’ and still be seen as a woman who cares for her family.
  • Racial Wealth Gap and the American Dream The speaker evaluates the accumulative wealth of Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites in America and arrives to the conclusion that race plays a role in financial burdens that many people of color experience.
  • American Dreams: The United States Since 1945 Although the major idea of the book is a critical one, the author’s intention does not concern analyzing approaches to the American social evolution in order to define the most adequate one.
  • History of Achieving the American Dream James Truslow Adams who wrote the book “The Epic of America” defined the American dream as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity […]
  • The American Dream in the 21st Century It is the labor of these people that allowed the country to afford to build its industry and set up a base for fulfilling the American Dream.
  • The American Dream: Defining the Great Society For instance, the Medicare bill was for the elderly and the poor, human rights for the oppressed, and antipoverty laws that set a stage for growth in the society.
  • American Literature and the American Dream The difference in how the dream is defined lies in how one sees the shape and color of the concoction, whether the texture is just right for the shape of the taste buds assessing the […]
  • American Dream and Reality for Minorities The topic of our concern is the reality that is faced by women, blacks, and war veterans who are associated with the American army.
  • Richard Rodriguez’s Opinion on Migration and the American Dream American seems to refer only to the citizen of the United States and does not include the rest of the people in the continent!
  • American Dream Is Not a Myth The paper is based on the argument, a simplified definition of the American dream: the American dream can be defined as “the achievement of economic and social advancement through hard work and determination”.
  • The Immigrant Experience and the Failure of the American Dream The fates of the heroes of the book amaze with their tragedy, and this is the story of slaves of wage labor.
  • Tycoons and Their American Dream The American Dream as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, and others saw it and forged it to be seen by others contributed meaningfully to the values of the American people and the priorities of a nation.
  • Theater Exam: American Dream and Family Legacy To start the discussion on the concept of American Dream, I would like to focus on Willy, the main character of the Death of a Salesman.
  • Is the American Dream Still Alive? The topic of discussion in this setting would be the American dream and the factors associated with the quest. They would talk about the cost of living, the cost of education, and the fact that […]
  • American Dream in Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” The play Death of a salesman is indeed an anatomy of the American dream especially because the plot of the story revolves around some of the basic material gains that individuals in the American society […]
  • “American Dream” of English and Chinese Immigrants My family decided to move to the US from England because of the low wages in our town. My intentions were to explore the new opportunities of the West and to earn more money than […]
  • The American Dream and Working Conditions In fact, it might be said that it is due to their efforts that the American Dream still exists as a piece of reality.
  • American Dream and Equity of Outcome and Opportunity The American dream is one of the most famous declarations of the world and the American subsequent governments have kept the dream alive for the last hundred years.
  • Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream This is one of the drawbacks that should be taken into account by the viewers who want to get a better idea about the causes of the problems described in the movie.
  • American Dream in Hansberry’s and Miller’s Tragedies Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” and Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” tell the stories about how people can perceive and be affected by the idea of the American Dream, how they choose wrong dreams […]
  • Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream – Movie Analysis It can be taken as the national ethos of the citizens of the USA. The basis of the American society is broken and it is not united anymore.
  • Music Talent Shows and the American Dream Talent search shows, like American Idol and The Voice, have suffered a lot of criticism for different reasons. Stanley says the main reason for this cynicism is the failure of such shows to focus on […]
  • Michelle Obama’s Remarks on American Dream She added that the main goal was to secure the blessings of liberty and to bring about the fulfillment of the promise of equality.
  • The American Dream’s Concept The American economy is also likely to improve as a result of realizing the American dream 2013 since most of the residents are likely to indulge in productive activities as stipulated in the American dream […]
  • The Concept of Progress or the Pursuit of the American Dream The concept of progress or the pursuit of the American Dream since 1930s has been a matter of concern for many immigrants who believe that they can achieve much in the US than in their […]
  • The Book American Dream by Jason DeParle From the name of the book, it is clear that the cardinal theme of the book is the American dream. This is contrary to the fact that she was pregnant and in a crack house.
  • The Definition of the Great American Dream: Hearing Opportunity Knock Although the concept of the American Dream is very recognizable, its essence is very hard to nail down, since it incorporates a number of social, economical and financial principles; largely, the American Dream is the […]
  • The American Dream Negative Sides and Benefits The United States is thought of as the land of opportunity and there are many people who want to live “The American Dream”.
  • Role of Money in the American Dream’s Concept Many people lack the meaning of the American dream because they are always looking forward to find opportunity and fail to realize that the opportunity to succeed is always around them in the work they […]
  • The Reality of American Dream The government encouraged the immigration of the population whose labor and skills were required in the United States. The housing in the urban was overcrowded with very unsanitary conditions, and some of the immigrants did […]
  • Social Status Anxiety and the American Dream The pain of a loss and the status anxiety that came with being inferior to other students at Harvard instigated the urge to revenge and brought a desire to achieve success.
  • Francis Scott Fitzgerald & His American Dream In the novel “Tender is the Night,” Fitzgerald describes the society in Riviera where he and his family had moved to live after his misfortune of late inheritance.
  • American Dream: Is It Still There? It is a dream for immigrants from the Middle East to be in America; a country where discrimination is history and where no one will prevent them from achieving their dreams in life.
  • The American Dream: Walt Disney’s Cinderella and Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man This is attributed to the fact that the original ideas and the fundamental principals that founded the dream are quickly fading away given the changing fortunes of the average American.
  • The Death of the American Dream It is the moral decay that leads to the loss of freedom, the very essence of the founding of the American dream.
  • American Dream and Unfulfilling Reality Living the American dream is the ultimate dream for most of the American citizens and those aspiring to acquire American citizenship.
  • Inequality and the American Dream It is only after the poor workers are assured of their jobs that the American model can be said to be successful.
  • A Response to the Article “Inequality and the American Dream” It has drawn my attention that other world countries embrace the “American model” since the super power has enormous wealth and its economic development is marked by up-to-date juggernauts of globalization and technology.
  • In Pursuit of the American Dream: An Analysis of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers The experiences of the characters in the novel portray the endeavors of the early immigrants’ pursuit of the American dream. The instinct to forgo the comforts, which a home country offers by default and then […]
  • Fitzgerald’s American Dream in The Great Gatsby & Winter Dreams To my mind, Winter Dream is a perfect example of the American Dream, since the main hero, Dexter, implemented each point of it, he was persistent and very hard-working, he was a very sensible and […]
  • How Did Ben Franklin Exemplify the American Dream?
  • Does Fitzgerald Condemn the American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”?
  • How Do Benjamin Franklin and Frederick Douglass Represent the American Dream?
  • Has America Lost Its Potential to Achieve the American Dream?
  • How Has Disney’s Social Power Influenced the Vision of the American Dream?
  • Does the American Dream Really Exist?
  • How Does the Great Gatsby Portray the Death of the American Dream?
  • What Does “The Great Gatsby” Have to Say About the Condition of the American Dream in the 1920s?
  • How Does One Achieve the American Dream?
  • What Are the Greatest Obstacles of Full Access to the American Dream?
  • How Has the American Dream Been Translated Into Popular Film?
  • What Does the American Dream Mean to an Immigrant?
  • How Does Arthur Miller Through “Death of a Salesman” Deal With the Theme of the American Dream?
  • What Must Everyone Know About the American Dream?
  • How Has the American Dream Changed Over Time?
  • What Is Infamous About the American Dream?
  • How Does Millar Portray His Views of the American Dream Using Willy Loman?
  • When Did American Dream Start?
  • How Has the Media Changed the American Dream?
  • Who Would Think the American Dream Isn’t Possible?
  • How Does Steinbeck Present the American Dream in “Of Mice and Men”?
  • Why Will Equal Pay Help Women Achieve the American Dream?
  • How Might the Disadvantage of Immigration Affect the Chances of Having That American Dream?
  • Why Is the American Dream Equally Given and Registered To All Citizens?
  • How Does Extreme Inequality Make the American Dream Inaccessible?
  • Why Is the American Dream Still Alive in the United States?
  • How Are Millennials Redefining the American Dream?
  • Why Is the American Dream Unattainable?
  • How Does Society Influence the Idea of the American Dream?
  • Why Must the United States Renew Opportunities to Achieve the American Dream to Reform Immigration Policy?
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

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American Dream Essay: Structure, Outline, Sample, and Topics

11 December 2023

last updated

The American Dream is a recurring controversial topic in modern society. Individuals have developed different arguments to deconstruct what is the American Dream essay in the context of day-to-day life. In the academic setting, learners that engage in this discourse hold the weight of the proper expression of their arguments. A structured essay is analyzed with a focus on the introduction, main body, and conclusion of the five-paragraph essay. The process of topic selection, outline development, and structured writing is exemplified using an essay titled, “The Promise of the American Dream.” Recommendations for narrow scoped topics for exploring the concept are provided as a starting point for students.

In contemporary discourse, there is much controversy over the meaning of the American Dream. Basically, people hold different positions on multiple aspects of the concept in their essays and research papers. During the schooling years, it is important to acquire knowledge. Also, young minds benefit significantly from reflecting on the influence of their recently acquired knowledge on their position regarding controversial topics. Upon completing the reflection essay process, the expression of one’s newly defined position is the next step. An essay on the American Dream is presented to introduce the readers to the basic principles behind the concept. Moreover, the structure of a five-paragraph essay is explored with the support of an outline and a sample essay.

American Dream essay

What Is the American Dream Essay?

1. general description.

The American Dream is a widely known concept, but there is no definition that can be identified as a correct, comprehensive, and precise. Basically, freedom and opportunity are the most critical aspects of the essay on the American Dream. In this case, freedoms are essential to the idea of achieving goals. It because these freedoms provide an individual with the space to live freely without any oppression from their peers or the government. Moreover, equal access to opportunity allows each individual to pursue happiness and prosperity regardless of the social class, gender, race, and other social or cultural factors that stratify society. Therefore, this concept may be defined as a set of beliefs that explain the experience of life that many people are expected to have in an ideal situation, where their freedoms are protected, and no opportunity barriers exist.

2. Unique Experiences

People are born into families that provide them with a unique starting point for their pursuit of desired goals. For example, the financial capability, level of education, and cultural beliefs of an individual’s parents define the foundation on which a person begins to achieve desired goals. As a result, all people may be pursuing the same ideas when writing essays. In turn, it is not a level playing field because some individuals may find themselves in better circumstances than others. Furthermore, it is differentiated at a personal level because individuals with relatively similar starting points may have distinct outcomes. Based on this perspective, it is highly unlikely that any two individuals can attest to going through identical experiences when writing an essay.

3. Belief Systems

Besides the circumstances of the starting points, an individual’s belief system plays a significant role in their strategy of achieving desired goals. For instance, happiness and prosperity are broad terms that have contrasting meanings for individuals because there is no standardized scale for measuring happiness or prosperity. Moreover, one person may consider owning a car and house to be a sign of prosperity. In contrast, another person may believe that providing his or her children with a college education to be prosperity. Hence, these beliefs are imposed on desires goals, which results in variations in the meaning of the concept for each individual to be covered in an essay. In turn, desires goals affected to a large extent by an individual’s beliefs regarding the things that make them happy or prosperous.

Topic Selection for American Dream Essays

1. challenges of topic selection.

The American Dream is a concept that people can examine from a variety of perspectives, which makes the selection of an essay topic for an American Dream paper quite challenging. During the selection of an essay topic, it is essential to remember that no point of view is more superior or correct than another. In this case, the weight of the claim proposed in the American Dream argumentative essay is dependent on the writer’s ability to explain a position logically and convincingly. Moreover, in the presentation of the argument in the essay, it is important to adequately consider competing counterarguments that may arise in the audience’s minds when writing essays. In turn, the failure to evaluate counterarguments critically may undercut the authority of the author, especially when writing for an academic audience.

2. Solution

Equally important, writers should select a topic that has a link with their personal experiences. For instance, an argument concerning the essay about the American Dream gains a sense of authenticity when writers discuss an issue that resonates with their beliefs. It is essential because some passion is embedded in the essay. In this case, as a starting point for identifying the essay topic, writers may identify a “main concept” under review, for example, equal opportunity. Based on the main concept, writers can think through their life experiences and single out events that they consider invaluable in the position taken concerning the main concept (see the example of a simple brainstorming template). Finally, writers should settle on the essay topic that is specific and can be argued out entirely within the constraints of the essay requirements.

3. Example of a Simple Brainstorming Template

  • State the main concept.
  • How has it affected you?
  • How has it affected other people in your life?
  • Do you think the events mentioned above are in line with the American Dream?
  • Specify the issue.
  • Describe the ideal situation.
  • Can the situation be improved?

American Dream Essay Outline

Introduction (approximately 10% of the word count).

  • It is the first statement in the introductory paragraph.
  • The statement should capture the attention of the reader, for example, a unique fact about the topic.

2. Overview of the Topic

  • It comprises of two or more sentences.
  • The statements should contain adequate detail for the reader to understand the thesis statement.

3. Thesis Statement

  • It is a single statement that appears at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • The statement provides an answer to the essay prompt in the form of a single argument, which summarises the main evidence or rationale presented in the main body.

Main Body (Approximately 80% of the Word Count)

The creation of paragraphs in this section is based on the separation of ideas to ensure that each paragraph presents one original idea. In this case, each paragraph in this section must follow the sandwich rule, which dictates the organization of paragraph elements:

  • Topic sentence – States the main idea for that paragraph.
  • Evidence – Provides the information that is crucial to the paragraph’s idea.
  • Evaluation of evidence – Explains the relevance of the evidence and offers an interpretation of the evidence.
  • Transition statement – Summarises the paragraph and links it to the thesis statement or the next paragraph.

Conclusion (Approximately 10% of the Word Count)

1. Restating the Main Argument

  • The first statement in the paragraph should repeat the main argument presented in the thesis statement.
  • It should not contain the same words as the thesis statement, but keywords can be reused.
  • Provide a detailed overview of the main points of the essay logically.
  • Demonstrate the value of the main points in answering the essay prompt.

Five-Paragraph American Dream Essay Outline Sample

Introduction/Paragraph 1

Hook: Besides the differences in the American populations, they are similar because they pursue the same dream.

Overview of the topic: Outline some of the differences in the American population.

Thesis statement: Creating equal opportunities allows individuals to achieve upward mobility.

Paragraph 2 :

Topic sentence: Breaking down social mobility and its quantification.

Evidence: Definition and measures of social mobility.

Evaluation of evidence: Illustrate how upward social mobility is achieved while referring to the measures.

Transition statement: Introduces the need for self-improvement for social mobility to occur.

Paragraph 3 :

Topic sentence: Opportunity is a requirement for social mobility.

Evidence: The role of education in equipping an individual to utilize opportunities.

Evaluation of evidence: Demonstrate the link between education, access to jobs, and the ability to improve an individual’s quality of life.

Transition statement: Recognise that there are socially constructed limitations on the accessibility of opportunities.

Paragraph 4 :

Topic sentence: Discriminative practices affect an individual’s access to opportunities for social mobility.

Evidence: Identify some forms of discrimination and explain the occurrence of discriminative practices.

Evaluation of evidence: Describe the value of government and organization’s role in managing discriminative practices using policies that uphold equality.

Transition statement: Stress the centrality of equality in the argument for opportunity access and upward mobility.

Conclusion/Paragraph 5 :

Restating the main argument: Emphasise the importance of equality in securing opportunities for upward mobility and the attainment of the American Dream.

Summary: Allude to the measures of social mobility, the interaction between discriminative practices and opportunities, and the relief provided by policies on equality.

Sample of Five-Paragraph American Dream Essay

Topic: The Promise of the American Dream

Introduction

Although we are different, we share a single dream. In this case, the American population is composed of people of different genders, races, education levels, religions, and disability statuses. Nonetheless, each American is entitled to the opportunity to make themselves better regardless of the underlying differences. Thus, the American Dream thesis statement is that it is founded on the promise of equal opportunity for upward social mobility.

Social Mobility

Social mobility is a multidimensional concept. It can be assessed using a variety of measures that attempt to quantify the change occurring in an individual’s life. For example, the ability of an individual to move along the social hierarchy may be described as social mobility. In turn, there are different measures of social mobility. However, each one is focused on a specific aspect of average Americans’ livelihood:

  • health status – the susceptibility of an individual to diseases,
  • education – an individual’s highest level of education,
  • homeownership – the capability of an individual to acquire permanent housing.

Upward social mobility implies that an individual can improve their position in the social hierarchy through improving their performance on any of the measures of social mobility. Therefore, upward social mobility is the desired outcome of a successful pursuit of desired goals because it suggests some form of self-improvement.

Opportunity

The opportunity for upward mobility is vital in pursuing the desired goals. Basically, access to opportunity is facilitated by some factors, for example, access to quality education. In this case, an individual that has attended school and acquired the necessary skills has a higher likelihood of securing a job. If individuals acquire jobs, it becomes easier to secure health insurance, buy homes, and improve the quality of life for their families. Moreover, individuals can only attain what they want if they are provided access to basic education, which prepares them to maximize any opportunities. However, it is difficult for an average individual to pursue opportunities without the government’s efforts to increase the ease of access to basic needs.

Equality Policies

Many barriers affect an average American’s ability to access positive opportunities, and it manifests in the form of discriminative practices in society. In this case, discrimination in society may occur based on a variety of issues, for example, gender, disability, religion, and race. Basically, personal biases create ideological differences regarding superiority in the social hierarchy. It pushes individuals to deny others access to opportunities and the necessary skills to exploit those opportunities. Moreover, state and organizational policies against discrimination are created and enforced to maintain equality among Americans. These laws serve to eliminate the barriers that exist between hardworking people and the American Dream. Consequently, equality among individuals ensures that all individuals can take advantage of opportunities regardless of their gender, disability status, religion, race, and other social differences that tend to create boundaries between social groups.

Equality is crucial in the pursuit of the American Dream because it provides each individual with the opportunity to move up the social hierarchy. In this case, people can access upward social mobility by using various measures, which quantify an individual’s quality of life. Moreover, opportunities may exist, but individuals need to be assisted in developing themselves to a level where they can utilize the available opportunities. Hence, equality policies are useful in curtailing the power of discriminative practices in reinforcing social mobility barriers.

American Dream Essay Topics

  • The origin of the American Dream.
  • Intergenerational differences in the definition of the American Dream.
  • The American Dream in contemporary music.
  • Does society still believe in the American Dream?
  • Defining the American Dream through the racial lens.
  • Individualism and the American Dream.
  • The influence of unrestricted surveillance on the American Dream.
  • Health care policies and the American Dream.
  • The impacts of globalization on the American Dream.
  • The rise of right-wing populism and the future of the American Dream.

Summing up on the American Dream Essay

The capacity of a person to participate in the discourse on the controversial essay topic nurtured through the continuous practice of structured essay writing. Basically, the concept may be approached from a different perspective, depending on the individual’s beliefs and personal experiences. Nonetheless, the written presentation of these points of view is achieved through the use of structured essays. The five-paragraph American Dream essay examined in this paper is a useful tool for the expression of any argument on the topic.

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The Great Gatsby is a tragic love story on the surface, but it's most commonly understood as a pessimistic critique of the American Dream. In the novel, Jay Gatsby overcomes his poor past to gain an incredible amount of money and a limited amount of social cache in 1920s NYC, only to be rejected by the "old money" crowd. He then gets killed after being tangled up with them.

Through Gatsby's life, as well as that of the Wilsons', Fitzgerald critiques the idea that America is a meritocracy where anyone can rise to the top with enough hard work. We will explore how this theme plays out in the plot, briefly analyze some key quotes about it, as well as do some character analysis and broader analysis of topics surrounding the American Dream in The Great Gatsby .

What is the American Dream? The American Dream in the Great Gatsby plot Key American Dream quotes Analyzing characters via the American Dream Common discussion and essay topics

Quick Note on Our Citations

Our citation format in this guide is (chapter.paragraph). We're using this system since there are many editions of Gatsby, so using page numbers would only work for students with our copy of the book.

To find a quotation we cite via chapter and paragraph in your book, you can either eyeball it (Paragraph 1-50: beginning of chapter; 50-100: middle of chapter; 100-on: end of chapter), or use the search function if you're using an online or eReader version of the text.

What Exactly Is "The American Dream"?

The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of race, class, gender, or nationality, can be successful in America (read: rich) if they just work hard enough. The American Dream thus presents a pretty rosy view of American society that ignores problems like systemic racism and misogyny, xenophobia, tax evasion or state tax avoidance, and income inequality. It also presumes a myth of class equality, when the reality is America has a pretty well-developed class hierarchy.

The 1920s in particular was a pretty tumultuous time due to increased immigration (and the accompanying xenophobia), changing women's roles (spurred by the right to vote, which was won in 1919), and extraordinary income inequality.

The country was also in the midst of an economic boom, which fueled the belief that anyone could "strike it rich" on Wall Street. However, this rapid economic growth was built on a bubble which popped in 1929. The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, well before the crash, but through its wry descriptions of the ultra-wealthy, it seems to somehow predict that the fantastic wealth on display in 1920s New York was just as ephemeral as one of Gatsby's parties.

In any case, the novel, just by being set in the 1920s, is unlikely to present an optimistic view of the American Dream, or at least a version of the dream that's inclusive to all genders, ethnicities, and incomes. With that background in mind, let's jump into the plot!

The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

Chapter 1 places us in a particular year—1922—and gives us some background about WWI.  This is relevant, since the 1920s is presented as a time of hollow decadence among the wealthy, as evidenced especially by the parties in Chapters 2 and 3. And as we mentioned above, the 1920s were a particularly tense time in America.

We also meet George and Myrtle Wilson in Chapter 2 , both working class people who are working to improve their lot in life, George through his work, and Myrtle through her affair with Tom Buchanan.

We learn about Gatsby's goal in Chapter 4 : to win Daisy back. Despite everything he owns, including fantastic amounts of money and an over-the-top mansion, for Gatsby, Daisy is the ultimate status symbol. So in Chapter 5 , when Daisy and Gatsby reunite and begin an affair, it seems like Gatsby could, in fact, achieve his goal.

In Chapter 6 , we learn about Gatsby's less-than-wealthy past, which not only makes him look like the star of a rags-to-riches story, it makes Gatsby himself seem like someone in pursuit of the American Dream, and for him the personification of that dream is Daisy.

However, in Chapters 7 and 8 , everything comes crashing down: Daisy refuses to leave Tom, Myrtle is killed, and George breaks down and kills Gatsby and then himself, leaving all of the "strivers" dead and the old money crowd safe. Furthermore, we learn in those last chapters that Gatsby didn't even achieve all his wealth through hard work, like the American Dream would stipulate—instead, he earned his money through crime. (He did work hard and honestly under Dan Cody, but lost Dan Cody's inheritance to his ex-wife.)

In short, things do not turn out well for our dreamers in the novel! Thus, the novel ends with Nick's sad meditation on the lost promise of the American Dream. You can read a detailed analysis of these last lines in our summary of the novel's ending .

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Key American Dream Quotes

In this section we analyze some of the most important quotes that relate to the American Dream in the book.

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. (1.152)

In our first glimpse of Jay Gatsby, we see him reaching towards something far off, something in sight but definitely out of reach. This famous image of the green light is often understood as part of The Great Gatsby 's meditation on The American Dream—the idea that people are always reaching towards something greater than themselves that is just out of reach . You can read more about this in our post all about the green light .

The fact that this yearning image is our introduction to Gatsby foreshadows his unhappy end and also marks him as a dreamer, rather than people like Tom or Daisy who were born with money and don't need to strive for anything so far off.

Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.

A dead man passed us in a hearse heaped with blooms, followed by two carriages with drawn blinds and by more cheerful carriages for friends. The friends looked out at us with the tragic eyes and short upper lips of south-eastern Europe, and I was glad that the sight of Gatsby's splendid car was included in their somber holiday. As we crossed Blackwell's Island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish Negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.

"Anything can happen now that we've slid over this bridge," I thought; "anything at all. . . ."

Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder. (4.55-8)

Early in the novel, we get this mostly optimistic illustration of the American Dream—we see people of different races and nationalities racing towards NYC, a city of unfathomable possibility. This moment has all the classic elements of the American Dream—economic possibility, racial and religious diversity, a carefree attitude. At this moment, it does feel like "anything can happen," even a happy ending.

However, this rosy view eventually gets undermined by the tragic events later in the novel. And even at this point, Nick's condescension towards the people in the other cars reinforces America's racial hierarchy that disrupts the idea of the American Dream. There is even a little competition at play, a "haughty rivalry" at play between Gatsby's car and the one bearing the "modish Negroes."

Nick "laughs aloud" at this moment, suggesting he thinks it's amusing that the passengers in this other car see them as equals, or even rivals to be bested. In other words, he seems to firmly believe in the racial hierarchy Tom defends in Chapter 1, even if it doesn't admit it honestly.

His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy's white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete. (6.134)

This moment explicitly ties Daisy to all of Gatsby's larger dreams for a better life —to his American Dream. This sets the stage for the novel's tragic ending, since Daisy cannot hold up under the weight of the dream Gatsby projects onto her. Instead, she stays with Tom Buchanan, despite her feelings for Gatsby. Thus when Gatsby fails to win over Daisy, he also fails to achieve his version of the American Dream. This is why so many people read the novel as a somber or pessimistic take on the American Dream, rather than an optimistic one.  

...as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes--a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night." (9.151-152)

The closing pages of the novel reflect at length on the American Dream, in an attitude that seems simultaneously mournful, appreciative, and pessimistic. It also ties back to our first glimpse of Gatsby, reaching out over the water towards the Buchanan's green light. Nick notes that Gatsby's dream was "already behind him" then (or in other words, it was impossible to attain). But still, he finds something to admire in how Gatsby still hoped for a better life, and constantly reached out toward that brighter future.

For a full consideration of these last lines and what they could mean, see our analysis of the novel's ending .

Analyzing Characters Through the American Dream

An analysis of the characters in terms of the American Dream usually leads to a pretty cynical take on the American Dream.

Most character analysis centered on the American Dream will necessarily focus on Gatsby, George, or Myrtle (the true strivers in the novel), though as we'll discuss below, the Buchanans can also provide some interesting layers of discussion. For character analysis that incorporates the American Dream, carefully consider your chosen character's motivations and desires, and how the novel does (or doesn't!) provide glimpses of the dream's fulfillment for them.

Gatsby himself is obviously the best candidate for writing about the American Dream—he comes from humble roots (he's the son of poor farmers from North Dakota) and rises to be notoriously wealthy, only for everything to slip away from him in the end. Many people also incorporate Daisy into their analyses as the physical representation of Gatsby's dream.

However, definitely consider the fact that in the traditional American Dream, people achieve their goals through honest hard work, but in Gatsby's case, he very quickly acquires a large amount of money through crime . Gatsby does attempt the hard work approach, through his years of service to Dan Cody, but that doesn't work out since Cody's ex-wife ends up with the entire inheritance. So instead he turns to crime, and only then does he manage to achieve his desired wealth.

So while Gatsby's story arc resembles a traditional rags-to-riches tale, the fact that he gained his money immorally complicates the idea that he is a perfect avatar for the American Dream . Furthermore, his success obviously doesn't last—he still pines for Daisy and loses everything in his attempt to get her back. In other words, Gatsby's huge dreams, all precariously wedded to Daisy  ("He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God" (6.134)) are as flimsy and flight as Daisy herself.

George and Myrtle Wilson

This couple also represents people aiming at the dream— George owns his own shop and is doing his best to get business, though is increasingly worn down by the harsh demands of his life, while Myrtle chases after wealth and status through an affair with Tom.

Both are disempowered due to the lack of money at their own disposal —Myrtle certainly has access to some of the "finer things" through Tom but has to deal with his abuse, while George is unable to leave his current life and move West since he doesn't have the funds available. He even has to make himself servile to Tom in an attempt to get Tom to sell his car, a fact that could even cause him to overlook the evidence of his wife's affair. So neither character is on the upward trajectory that the American Dream promises, at least during the novel.

In the end, everything goes horribly wrong for both George and Myrtle, suggesting that in this world, it's dangerous to strive for more than you're given.

George and Myrtle's deadly fates, along with Gatsby's, help illustrate the novel's pessimistic attitude toward the American Dream. After all, how unfair is it that the couple working to improve their position in society (George and Myrtle) both end up dead, while Tom, who dragged Myrtle into an increasingly dangerous situation, and Daisy, who killed her, don't face any consequences? And on top of that they are fabulously wealthy? The American Dream certainly is not alive and well for the poor Wilsons.

Tom and Daisy as Antagonists to the American Dream

We've talked quite a bit already about Gatsby, George, and Myrtle—the three characters who come from humble roots and try to climb the ranks in 1920s New York. But what about the other major characters, especially the ones born with money? What is their relationship to the American Dream?

Specifically, Tom and Daisy have old money, and thus they don't need the American Dream, since they were born with America already at their feet.

Perhaps because of this, they seem to directly antagonize the dream—Daisy by refusing Gatsby, and Tom by helping to drag the Wilsons into tragedy .

This is especially interesting because unlike Gatsby, Myrtle, and George, who actively hope and dream of a better life, Daisy and Tom are described as bored and "careless," and end up instigating a large amount of tragedy through their own recklessness.

In other words, income inequality and the vastly different starts in life the characters have strongly affected their outcomes. The way they choose to live their lives, their morality (or lack thereof), and how much they dream doesn't seem to matter. This, of course, is tragic and antithetical to the idea of the American Dream, which claims that class should be irrelevant and anyone can rise to the top.

Daisy as a Personification of the American Dream

As we discuss in our post on money and materialism in The Great Gatsby , Daisy's voice is explicitly tied to money by Gatsby:

"Her voice is full of money," he said suddenly.

That was it. I'd never understood before. It was full of money--that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it. . . . High in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl. . . . (7.105-6)

If Daisy's voice promises money, and the American Dream is explicitly linked to wealth, it's not hard to argue that Daisy herself—along with the green light at the end of her dock —stands in for the American Dream. In fact, as Nick goes on to describe Daisy as "High in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl," he also seems to literally describe Daisy as a prize, much like the princess at the end of a fairy tale (or even Princess Peach at the end of a Mario game!).

But Daisy, of course, is only human—flawed, flighty, and ultimately unable to embody the huge fantasy Gatsby projects onto her. So this, in turn, means that the American Dream itself is just a fantasy, a concept too flimsy to actually hold weight, especially in the fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world of 1920s America.

Furthermore, you should definitely consider the tension between the fact that Daisy represents Gatsby's ultimate goal, but at the same time (as we discussed above), her actual life is the opposite of the American Dream : she is born with money and privilege, likely dies with it all intact, and there are no consequences to how she chooses to live her life in between.

Can Female Characters Achieve the American Dream?

Finally, it's interesting to compare and contrast some of the female characters using the lens of the American Dream.

Let's start with Daisy, who is unhappy in her marriage and, despite a brief attempt to leave it, remains with Tom, unwilling to give up the status and security their marriage provides. At first, it may seem like Daisy doesn't dream at all, so of course she ends up unhappy. But consider the fact that Daisy was already born into the highest level of American society. The expectation placed on her, as a wealthy woman, was never to pursue something greater, but simply to maintain her status. She did that by marrying Tom, and it's understandable why she wouldn't risk the uncertainty and loss of status that would come through divorce and marriage to a bootlegger. Again, Daisy seems to typify the "anti-American" dream, in that she was born into a kind of aristocracy and simply has to maintain her position, not fight for something better.

In contrast, Myrtle, aside from Gatsby, seems to be the most ambitiously in pursuit of getting more than she was given in life. She parlays her affair with Tom into an apartment, nice clothes, and parties, and seems to revel in her newfound status. But of course, she is knocked down the hardest, killed for her involvement with the Buchanans, and specifically for wrongfully assuming she had value to them. Considering that Gatsby did have a chance to leave New York and distance himself from the unfolding tragedy, but Myrtle was the first to be killed, you could argue the novel presents an even bleaker view of the American Dream where women are concerned.

Even Jordan Baker , who seems to be living out a kind of dream by playing golf and being relatively independent, is tied to her family's money and insulated from consequences by it , making her a pretty poor representation of the dream. And of course, since her end game also seems to be marriage, she doesn't push the boundaries of women's roles as far as she might wish.

So while the women all push the boundaries of society's expectations of them in certain ways, they either fall in line or are killed, which definitely undermines the rosy of idea that anyone, regardless of gender, can make it in America. The American Dream as shown in Gatsby becomes even more pessimistic through the lens of the female characters.  

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Common Essay Questions/Discussion Topics

Now let's work through some of the more frequently brought up subjects for discussion.

#1: Was Gatsby's dream worth it? Was all the work, time, and patience worth it for him?

Like me, you might immediately think "of course it wasn't worth it! Gatsby lost everything, not to mention the Wilsons got caught up in the tragedy and ended up dead!" So if you want to make the more obvious "the dream wasn't worth it" argument, you could point to the unraveling that happens at the end of the novel (including the deaths of Myrtle, Gatsby and George) and how all Gatsby's achievements are for nothing, as evidenced by the sparse attendance of his funeral.

However, you could definitely take the less obvious route and argue that Gatsby's dream was worth it, despite the tragic end . First of all, consider Jay's unique characterization in the story: "He was a son of God--a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that--and he must be about His Father's Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty" (6.7). In other words, Gatsby has a larger-than-life persona and he never would have been content to remain in North Dakota to be poor farmers like his parents.

Even if he ends up living a shorter life, he certainly lived a full one full of adventure. His dreams of wealth and status took him all over the world on Dan Cody's yacht, to Louisville where he met and fell in love with Daisy, to the battlefields of WWI, to the halls of Oxford University, and then to the fast-paced world of Manhattan in the early 1920s, when he earned a fortune as a bootlegger. In fact, it seems Jay lived several lives in the space of just half a normal lifespan. In short, to argue that Gatsby's dream was worth it, you should point to his larger-than-life conception of himself and the fact that he could have only sought happiness through striving for something greater than himself, even if that ended up being deadly in the end.

#2: In the Langston Hughes poem "A Dream Deferred," Hughes asks questions about what happens to postponed dreams. How does Fitzgerald examine this issue of deferred dreams? What do you think are the effects of postponing our dreams? How can you apply this lesson to your own life?

If you're thinking about "deferred dreams" in The Great Gatsby , the big one is obviously Gatsby's deferred dream for Daisy—nearly five years pass between his initial infatuation and his attempt in the novel to win her back, an attempt that obviously backfires. You can examine various aspects of Gatsby's dream—the flashbacks to his first memories of Daisy in Chapter 8 , the moment when they reunite in Chapter 5 , or the disastrous consequences of the confrontation of Chapter 7 —to illustrate Gatsby's deferred dream.

You could also look at George Wilson's postponed dream of going West, or Myrtle's dream of marrying a wealthy man of "breeding"—George never gets the funds to go West, and is instead mired in the Valley of Ashes, while Myrtle's attempt to achieve her dream after 12 years of marriage through an affair ends in tragedy. Apparently, dreams deferred are dreams doomed to fail.

As Nick Carraway says, "you can't repeat the past"—the novel seems to imply there is a small window for certain dreams, and when the window closes, they can no longer be attained. This is pretty pessimistic, and for the prompt's personal reflection aspect, I wouldn't say you should necessarily "apply this lesson to your own life" straightforwardly. But it is worth noting that certain opportunities are fleeting, and perhaps it's wiser to seek out newer and/or more attainable ones, rather than pining over a lost chance.

Any prompt like this one which has a section of more personal reflection gives you freedom to tie in your own experiences and point of view, so be thoughtful and think of good examples from your own life!

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#3: Explain how the novel does or does not demonstrate the death of the American Dream. Is the main theme of Gatsby indeed "the withering American Dream"? What does the novel offer about American identity?

In this prompt, another one that zeroes in on the dead or dying American Dream, you could discuss how the destruction of three lives (Gatsby, George, Myrtle) and the cynical portrayal of the old money crowd illustrates a dead, or dying American Dream . After all, if the characters who dream end up dead, and the ones who were born into life with money and privilege get to keep it without consequence, is there any room at all for the idea that less-privileged people can work their way up?

In terms of what the novel says about American identity, there are a few threads you could pick up—one is Nick's comment in Chapter 9 about the novel really being a story about (mid)westerners trying (and failing) to go East : "I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all--Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life" (9.125). This observation suggests an American identity that is determined by birthplace, and that within the American identity there are smaller, inescapable points of identification.

Furthermore, for those in the novel not born into money, the American identity seems to be about striving to end up with more wealth and status. But in terms of the portrayal of the old money set, particularly Daisy, Tom, and Jordan, the novel presents a segment of American society that is essentially aristocratic—you have to be born into it. In that regard, too, the novel presents a fractured American identity, with different lives possible based on how much money you are born with.

In short, I think the novel disrupts the idea of a unified American identity or American dream, by instead presenting a tragic, fractured, and rigid American society, one that is divided based on both geographic location and social class.

#4: Most would consider dreams to be positive motivators to achieve success, but the characters in the novel often take their dreams of ideal lives too far. Explain how characters' American Dreams cause them to have pain when they could have been content with more modest ambitions.

Gatsby is an obvious choice here—his pursuit of money and status, particularly through Daisy, leads him to ruin. There were many points when perhaps Gatsby ;could have been happy with what he achieved (especially after his apparently successful endeavors in the war, if he had remained at Oxford, or even after amassing a great amount of wealth as a bootlegger) but instead he kept striving upward, which ultimately lead to his downfall. You can flesh this argument out with the quotations in Chapters 6 and 8 about Gatsby's past, along with his tragic death.

Myrtle would be another good choice for this type of prompt. In a sense, she seems to be living her ideal life in her affair with Tom—she has a fancy NYC apartment, hosts parties, and gets to act sophisticated—but these pleasures end up gravely hurting George, and of course her association with Tom Buchanan gets her killed.

Nick, too, if he had been happy with his family's respectable fortune and his girlfriend out west, might have avoided the pain of knowing Gatsby and the general sense of despair he was left with.

You might be wondering about George—after all, isn't he someone also dreaming of a better life? However, there aren't many instances of George taking his dreams of an ideal life "too far." In fact, he struggles just to make one car sale so that he can finally move out West with Myrtle. Also, given that his current situation in the Valley of Ashes is quite bleak, it's hard to say that striving upward gave him pain.

#5: The Great Gatsby is, among other things, a sobering and even ominous commentary on the dark side of the American dream. Discuss this theme, incorporating the conflicts of East Egg vs. West Egg and old money vs. new money. What does the American dream mean to Gatsby? What did the American Dream mean to Fitzgerald? How does morality fit into achieving the American dream?

This prompt allows you to consider pretty broadly the novel's attitude toward the American Dream, with emphasis on "sobering and even ominous" commentary. Note that Fitzgerald seems to be specifically mocking the stereotypical rags to riches story here—;especially since he draws the Dan Cody narrative almost note for note from the work of someone like Horatio Alger, whose books were almost universally about rich men schooling young, entrepreneurial boys in the ways of the world. In other words, you should discuss how the Great Gatsby seems to turn the idea of the American Dream as described in the quote on its head: Gatsby does achieve a rags-to-riches rise, but it doesn't last.

All of Gatsby's hard work for Dan Cody, after all, didn't pay off since he lost the inheritance. So instead, Gatsby turned to crime after the war to quickly gain a ton of money. Especially since Gatsby finally achieves his great wealth through dubious means, the novel further undermines the classic image of someone working hard and honestly to go from rags to riches.

If you're addressing this prompt or a similar one, make sure to focus on the darker aspects of the American Dream, including the dark conclusion to the novel and Daisy and Tom's protection from any real consequences . (This would also allow you to considering morality, and how morally bankrupt the characters are.)

#6: What is the current state of the American Dream?

This is a more outward-looking prompt, that allows you to consider current events today to either be generally optimistic (the American dream is alive and well) or pessimistic (it's as dead as it is in The Great Gatsby).

You have dozens of potential current events to use as evidence for either argument, but consider especially immigration and immigration reform, mass incarceration, income inequality, education, and health care in America as good potential examples to use as you argue about the current state of the American Dream. Your writing will be especially powerful if you can point to some specific current events to support your argument.

What's Next?

In this post, we discussed how important money is to the novel's version of the American Dream. You can read even more about money and materialism in The Great Gatsby right here .

Want to indulge in a little materialism of your own? Take a look through these 15 must-have items for any Great Gatsby fan .

Get complete guides to Jay Gatsby , George Wilson and Myrtle Wilson to get even more background on the "dreamers" in the novel.

Like we discussed above, the green light is often seen as a stand-in for the idea of the American Dream. Read more about this crucial symbol here .

Need help getting to grips with other literary works? Take a spin through our analyses of The Crucible , The Cask of Amontillado , and " Do not go gentle into this good night " to see analysis in action. You might also find our explanations of point of view , rhetorical devices , imagery , and literary elements and devices helpful.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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The American Dream: Successes and Doubts

Readers respond to an essay by Tara Westover, the author of “Educated,” about college education and the American dream.

college essays about the american dream

To the Editor:

Re “ I Am Not Proof of the American Dream, ” by Tara Westover (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, Feb. 6):

I grew up poor in New York City and had experiences similar to Ms. Westover’s.

The American dream is unobtainable today for the vast majority of poor students, particularly because of the outrageous cost of obtaining a college, let alone a graduate school, education. This is an American tragedy, a threat to our democracy, yet is a problem that is solvable if as a nation we put our minds to it.

Student debt needs to be eliminated. We as a nation need to rein in the explosion in the costs of higher education, and we need to make it affordable through government subsidy, an expansion of Pell grants or other means not yet identified.

Our democracy is still an experiment that requires constant nurturing by an educated and informed populace. Education has always been, and shall continue to be, a pillar of a successful democracy. That fact ought to be a guiding light in bringing together our otherwise polarized nation because we all shall “win” or “lose” based on whether we successfully address this challenge.

Barry S. Sziklay West Orange, N.J.

Through her own tenacity, grit and will, Tara Westover, using a modest government grant to help pay basic expenses and tuition subsidized by the Mormon Church, transformed herself from an unsophisticated, impoverished young girl into a highly skilled, successful and well-educated professional.

But she has become disillusioned with the American dream she personified, and paints a depressingly bleak and disheartening picture of the prospects for a new generation of equally determined young strivers.

Ms. Westover vividly describes how she struggled to achieve her goals. She writes: “But it was possible. Without family money, without cultural advantages, it was a thing that could be done, if only just, if you really wanted it.”

That’s a pretty good definition of the American dream, and it remains a reality for many thousands of motivated offspring of working-class Americans as well as immigrants who came here with next to nothing, and who are equally plucky and determined as the younger Ms. Westover.

The inflated costs (of tuition, housing, etc.) that Ms. Westover justifiably laments may indeed seem impossibly imposing. But lesser costs once seemed so to her. Why underestimate today’s dreamers? They are out there, undeterred.

By all means, let us pursue Ms. Westover’s suggestions: restore funding, reduce inefficiencies and inequalities. But let us promote the hopeful example of her earlier experience rather than the discouraging despair of her current view of the American dream.

Alan M. Schwartz Teaneck, N.J.

Tara Westover’s essay notes that her life was transformed by the financial stability provided by a Pell grant she received as a college sophomore.

Ms. Westover applied for that grant because a church leader insisted she do so. It was this person’s intervention, as much as the grant itself, that allowed Ms. Westover to shift her focus from keeping a roof over her head to her academic work. She succeeded because she gained access to both personal and financial resources that enabled her to fully participate in her studies.

Most of us have benefited from a timely offer of help, encouragement or information. The networks that provide such support, at least as much as the resources they mobilize, enable people to succeed. None of us can make it alone.

Ms. Westover’s experiences show how important it is that each of us embrace our opportunities to extend a helping hand.

Deborah Beck Austin, Texas The writer is an associate professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin.

Tara Westover’s essay resonated deeply with me. I feel like a fraud because people tell me I should be proud of my success, but none of it would have been possible if not for financial aid from the State of Texas and scholarships from private donors that allowed me to have a slightly more normal college experience than the typical kid putting herself through college. I can’t imagine putting time toward extracurriculars or taking only one job during college if not for that.

Even with all that help, I still had to take on student loans, and if not for my major and career choice, I wouldn’t have been able to pay them off so soon. I definitely wouldn’t recommend that most people make the choices I made.

My story, like the author’s, proves what’s so nefarious about the American dream: We’re conditioned to think that if we ask for help we’re a drain on society, thus shaming us into silence and avoiding an honest conversation on the role of government in this crisis.

Dhananjay Khanna Seattle

The underlying message in Tara Westover’s fine piece is really about the failures of our financial aid system.

Students are perplexed about how much funding is available. Ms. Westover didn’t know she was eligible for a Pell grant until her sophomore year. Even if she had, though, financial aid can still be inadequate today.

If we are going to provide economic opportunity to all students who manage the inequities of the K-12 education system and are college-ready, the financial aid system needs to be more transparent so that students know what college will really cost them. And it needs to provide sufficient aid so that lower-income students don’t need to work multiple jobs, go into excessive debt, and survive on ramen noodles. Our current system fails on both scores.

Phillip B. Levine Wellesley, Mass. The writer is a professor of economics at Wellesley College and the author of the forthcoming book “A Problem of Fit: How the Complexity of College Pricing Hurts Students — and Universities.”

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Chasing Dreams: A Critical Examination of the American Dream Essay

Dear students, embark on a thought-provoking journey as we delve into the complexities of the American Dream in this meticulously crafted essay. Tailored for learners of all classes, this piece navigates the nuances of aspirations, opportunities, and challenges that define the elusive concept of the American Dream.

Essay (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); On American Dream: An Argumentative Exploration of Pursuit and Reality

In the tapestry of American ideals, the concept of the American Dream looms large, promising a narrative of boundless opportunities and upward mobility. As F. Scott Fitzgerald aptly noted, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” This essay seeks to unpack the layers of the American Dream, acknowledging its allure while critically examining the disparities between the promise and the reality. Beyond the rhetoric, we navigate the complex landscape of dreams, hopes, and societal expectations that shape the American narrative.

On the positive side, the American Dream has been a driving force behind innovation, entrepreneurship, and social progress. It motivates individuals to strive for success, pushing the boundaries of human potential. For instance, countless stories of immigrants achieving prosperity and social mobility attest to the transformative power of the American Dream. The dream serves as a beacon, inspiring individuals to overcome challenges and carve out a better future for themselves and their families.

However, the cons emerge as the gap widens between the dream’s promise and the reality for many. Economic disparities, systemic inequalities, and limited access to opportunities create barriers that hinder the realization of the American Dream for certain demographics. The cons are evident in the persistence of social mobility challenges, where one’s socioeconomic background often determines the trajectory of their aspirations. The dream becomes elusive when structural obstacles limit the upward mobility of individuals, challenging the notion of an equal playing field.

Moreover, the commodification of the American Dream in popular culture and media adds a layer of complexity. On one hand, the dream is celebrated as a symbol of hope and resilience. On the other hand, the romanticized portrayal of success can contribute to unrealistic expectations and a sense of failure for those who do not achieve the stereotypical markers of success. The cons lie in the potential disillusionment that arises when the pursuit of the American Dream becomes a one-size-fits-all narrative, neglecting the diverse paths to fulfillment and happiness.

In concluding our exploration of the American Dream, let us recognize the multifaceted nature of this concept. While it has served as a catalyst for ambition and progress, the dream’s realization remains elusive for many. As students and participants in the American narrative, we hold the power to critically examine and reshape the contours of the dream. In the spirit of Fitzgerald’s reflection on the ceaseless pursuit, let us strive for a collective future where the American Dream transcends its limitations, embracing a vision of opportunity and prosperity that is truly accessible to all.

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Essays About The American Dream: 7 Interesting Topics to Discuss

American Dream has main themes: hard work and equal opportunity create a better life over time. Discover essays about the American dream topics in this article.

The concept of the American dream includes many ideas, including those outlined in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Professional writers, high school students, and many people have worked to outline the meaning of the American dream in essays and research papers.

Many United States citizens operate under the assumption that working hard can elevate their financial and social status. Many people in American society grapple with whether the idea of the American dream is an attainable reality for those born into less-fortunate circumstances. While some argue that social mobility—meaning changes in social class based on effort and hard work—are at the core of the American dream, others argue that those who are born into a preferable situation may have an easier time achieving the dream, disputing the notion of an equal playing field.

Here, we’ll discuss 7 interesting essay topics on the American Dream that you can use in your next essay.

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1. Is The American Dream Still Alive?

2. the american dream is still alive: these people are proof, 3. the american dream defined, 4. the american dream in literature, 5. what does the american dream look like for immigrants, 6. how has the american dream changed over time, the final word on essays about the american dream, what literary works discuss the american dream, what should be considered when writing an essay on the american dream’s existence.

A topic of much debate, it can be tough to figure out whether the American Dream continues to exist as it did half a century ago. Many people question whether the American Dream is a reality for that outside of the American family depicted in 1950s television and print ads—largely white, upper-middle-class families.

Suppose you decide to write about whether the American Dream still exists. In that case, you’ll want to consider the inflation of the cost of a college education that has made it impossible for many students to work and pay their way through college, resulting in debt that feels impossible upon graduation. Rather than a fresh start in life, many graduates face low-paying jobs that make it difficult to handle daily living costs while also paying back high-interest student loans.

As you write about why the American Dream is currently a struggle for many, include success stories that show how the American Dream is still being achieved by many. You may want to touch on how the traditional idea of the American dream is changing with time. You can do this by highlighting studies that explain how successful Americans today feel regarding the American Dream and how the tenants of a successful life are changing for many people. 

Want to show your audience that the American Dream is still alive and well? Highlighting the stories of people who have achieved success in their lives can be a great way to convey proof of the existence of the American Dream to others. 

As you write your essay, it’s important to share how the definition of the American dream has changed over time. Today, many people feel that the American dream has more to do with a sense of belonging and community than making a certain amount of money or living in a certain type of home. Research shows that across the United States of America, people generally shared a positive feeling about the possibility of achieving the American dream. Most felt that they either had achieved the dream or were on their way to achieving it.

As you write your essay on proof of the existence of the American Dream, be sure to highlight people from different backgrounds, sharing the different challenges they’ve faced throughout their lives. You’ll want to show how Americans achieve success despite challenges and different starting points and how they’ve enjoyed their success (despite having different definitions of what it means to achieve the American Dream).

In years past, the definition of the American Dream was clear: rising above circumstances, developing a successful financial portfolio, owning a home, and having kids in a successful marriage. Today, however, many people define the American Dream differently. In an essay on defining the American dream, it’s important to consider viewpoints from different cultures and how a person’s socioeconomic starting point affects their view of what it means to have “made it” in America. 

When defining the American Dream, you may want to touch on how social and economic issues in America have made the American Dream a more realistic possibility for some groups than others. Social programs, discrimination, and civil rights issues have made it tougher for some minority groups to climb above the standing they were born into, making it harder to achieve financial stability and other aspects of the American dream.

In your essay about defining the American Dream, you may also want to touch on the importance of being able to take risks. This can be easier for people whose parents and other relatives can provide a safety net. People who are dependent on their savings to support new business ventures may find it harder to take risks, making it more difficult to achieve the American dream. 

When defining the American Dream, be sure to touch on how the Dream can be different for different people and how one person’s financial stability might not be the same as someone else’s. If possible, include anecdotal quotes and stories to help your reader connect to the way you’re defining the American Dream.

Many pieces of classic American literature work to show what the American Dream means to various groups of people. In writing an essay about the American Dream in literature, you’ll want to discuss several different classic works, including The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. 

When discussing the theme of the American Dream in literature, there are a few different approaches that you can take to show your readers how the American Dream has changed in novels over time. You may want to work through a timeline showing how the American Dream has changed or talk about how real-life social and economic issues have been reflected in the way that authors discuss the American Dream. 

When writing about the American Dream, you may also want to touch on how each author’s social standing affected their view of the American Dream and whether the achievement of the Dream was feasible at the time. Authors born into difficult circumstances may have a different view of the American Dream than authors born into a more affluent lifestyle. 

Growing student debt, a lack of high-paying jobs, and increasing living costs have made it difficult for people to keep their faith in the American dream. Economic research shows that many first- and second-generation Americans experience economic mobility upward in immigrant families, but this mobility eventually stalls in future generations. According to some researchers, t’s possible that first- and second-generation immigrants feel more of a push to be a success story in an attempt to erase the negative connotations that some American citizens have with the word “immigrant.”

People who are new to the United States face different challenges than people who have lived in the country for their entire lives. Writing an essay about how the American Dream is different for people born in other countries can enlighten many of your readers about how the Dream is different for people in different circumstances.

Essays About the American Dream: How has the American dream changed over time?

The American Dream has not remained stagnant over the years, and what people once believed to be the American Dream is something that many Americans no longer want. Writing an essay about how the American dream has changed over time can be an interesting way to explore how the ideals of America have changed over the years. 

The wealth gap has changed over time in the United States, making it increasingly difficult for people born into a lower socioeconomic status to build their wealth and achieve the American dream. Research shows that more than 40% of people born into the lowest part of the income ladder in the United States stay there as adults. Talking about how economic challenges in the United States have made it difficult for many people to go through college or start businesses can be a jumping-off point to discussing changes in the American Dream. 

For many people, the ideals associated with the American dream—marriage, family, kids, a job that provides financial stability—are no longer as desirable. Some people don’t desire to get married, and it’s more acceptable in society to stay single. Some people have no desire to have kids, and some people prefer to work in the gig economy rather than going to a 9-5 job every day. Discussing these changes in American society and how they relate to changes in the American Dream can help your reader see how the Dream has changed over time.

In the eyes of many, the American dream is often associated with homeownership. Skyrocketing mortgage rates in the U.S. make it hard for many people to afford a home, relegating them to rent or living with family members. If you decide to talk about the difficulties of becoming a homeowner in today’s economy, do your research on the latest mortgage news. Many people who once qualified for mortgages struggle to get approved due to skyrocketing interest rates. Including recent financial news can help help your readers connect recent events with the reality of the American Dream.

Opinions on the American dream differ, and when writing about the topic, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. While some people have experienced at least part of the American dream, others have struggled despite hard work due to an unequal playing field from the start.

FAQs About Essays About The American Dream

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is well-known for their takes on the American dream.

When writing a persuasive or argumentive essay on the American dream, it’s important to consider social mobility, interest rates, homeownership rates, the cost of education, and other factors that contribute to creating a lucrative financial life.

If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics .

college essays about the american dream

Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.

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Descriptive Essay – What is the American Dream?

The American dream has always been a staple of American culture. When people speak of it, they often refer back to the first half of the 20th century. Despite this, the American Dream is just as relevant to American culture today as it was in the last century. In this essay, we will explore the American dream and just what it is.

Firstly, it’s important to mention the American dream isn’t measured based on what an individual has. It has to be measured on its principles and how they apply to society. Although the American dream isn’t as distinct from the rest of the world as it once was, it still makes America what it is today.

The first part of the American dream is the dream of abundance. The dream of abundance is the ability of America to have a country filled with material goods. It remains the envy of the world today as a nation of producers and consumers. Few countries can match the sheer range of goods America has.

Next, we have the dream of a democracy of goods. This is the ability of everyone to purchase the goods of America, regardless of where they come from and who they are. It links back to the constitutional right of everyone to be free and equal. To fulfil this part of the constitution, the dream of a democracy of goods has to exist.

The dream of freedom of choice is the third part of the American dream and, again, ties back in to the American constitution. It allows people to fashion their own lifestyles using the goods on offer. People have the freedom to be who they want to be, and they aren’t restricted by the supply of goods on offer.

Finally, we have the dream of novelty. This represents a broadening of consumer choice. Fashions are allowed to change at will. It has a deep impact on American society. It means the current skills in demand are forever changing. The people don’t have to specialise in specific areas just to get along in life. They can be sure there will always be a demand for niche skills, which allows them more freedom of choice.

One can say the American dream has been born out of the constitution. It’s the constitution that allows it to exist. Without the rights enshrined in this document, the American dream wouldn’t be able to persevere.

Today, the American dream is still relevant. How people achieve this dream has changed, but the basic principles of it haven’t. The difference today is young people may go to college instead of an apprenticeship to go about their pursuit of the American dream.

In conclusion, the American dream is about both choice in the consumer industry and unlimited freedom of choice. These are principles Americans demand in everything they do. In many ways, the American dream has grown to symbolise more than just the consumer industry. The American dream is a symbol of a strong America as a whole.

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Best United States Essay Examples

The american dream.

721 words | 3 page(s)

The idea of the American Dream has been a topic for many stories in literature. This includes the difficulties and often, the disillusionment that is associated with the possible attainment of the American Dream. Essentially, many individuals are willing to engage in dissolute actions in an attempt to improve their financial and social status. Two stories that indicate the dangers of following the American Dream include “Paul’s Case” and “Winter’s Dreams.” “Paul’s Case” was written by the American writer Willa Cather. “Winter’s Dreams” was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who famously wrote The Great Gatsby about the tragedy of chasing the American dream.

In the Cather story, Paul is a high school boy who dreams of achieving a life of travel and riches. His father hopes that he will become a solid and respectable individual, even if working class. Paul is disgusted at this option. He works at Carnegie Hall and imagines a life of riches. In one scene, his English teacher, a person with a college education, arrives at the Hall. Paul is not happy to wait on his teacher; however, he is pleased to note that the teacher’s clothes are not appropriate. The teacher is middle-class and does not have the luxurious clothes that Paul dreams of. However, Paul fails to realize that his teacher has still reached a higher socioeconomic status in life. Paul would rather imagine a life of luxury than work for a decent standard of living with an education. Rather, Paul is appalled that he lives in a poor, working class neighborhood. He dreams of traveling in Venice and other luxurious places. Paul isolates himself from everyone through the telling of lies about his glamourous life; those who work in the theater actually recognize that their lives are hard work, not glamorous. Still, Paul is not willing to work for his dreams. Paul fails to realize this. Paul steals money to fund a lavish trip to New York City. He lives the life that he dreams about with expensive clothes and hotels. In the end of the story, he realizes that he has not achieved this life. He commits suicide. Paul’s attempt to live a luxurious life finally leads to his downfall.

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This is similar to the Fitzgerald story. In this story, Dexter, a caddy, skis across the golf course where he works in the summer. He has dreams of being a wealthy member with a glamourous life. However, these dreams force him to make poor decisions, such as quitting his job. He fails to see that his job allows him to provide a basic standard of living for himself. Rather, he would prefer to imagine an excellent standard of living that is only a fantasy. He quits his job as a caddy because he wants something more; in this, he feels to realize that he is making money as a caddy. No one is going to give him a life as a member of a country club.

Dexter could afford a state school. However his dreams for a more respected American life push him to attend a prestigious school that he really cannot afford. This stretches his financial resources. He does enter the business world and appears to have some success. However this basic level of success is not enough for his winter dreams. Just like Paul, he must push for something more and greater. This push is the end of both characters. Dexter begins to pursue a woman who desires a wealthy man. He tells her he is the wealthiest in the region. He continually pursues Judy, despite her inability to offer him true love and commitment. He becomes engaged to another woman, a good one named Irene. However, his desire for Judy is too great. He hurts Irene and betrays her. While he does obtain wealth and status in the story, there is no reality to it. It is hollow and shallow. Judy lacks the substance to give him a meaningful life, as do the other members of the “blue blood set.” Rather, he pursues this dream of the American ideal and Judy with a level of hollowness. His ambition did not offer him anything of value in his life. While he does not suffer the same tragedy of Paul, he does suffer in the story.

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The American Dream Essay – Free Example, with Outline

Published by gudwriter on May 25, 2018 May 25, 2018

The American Dream Essay 

Write a historical analysis of the factors you see as leading to the development of the American dream as a concept. Try to show how the American dream grew out of specific aspects of American history and if you have any difficulties grasping the concept do my history homework for me is here to help out at an affordable price.

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Here is a sample essay that tries to answer the above question.

Essay on the American Dream Outline

Introduction

Thesis: The American dream grew out of specific aspects of the American history defined by the fore-founding fathers and America’s greatest leaders.

Paragraph 1:

In 1931, there was the first public definition of the phrase in the book the Epic of America authored by James Truslow.

  • In his description, he maintained that the Dream is characterized by a situation where every individual desires his or her life to be more vibrant and fuller.
  • There are five major pillars of the American dream including, the idea of a free market economy, embracing free trade agreements, embracing government protection of companies, and the idea that countries should replicate America’s development.

Paragraph 2:

Upon its inception, the American Dream only applied to white property owners.

  • As people began embracing the idea of equal rights to every American despite their color or origin, the laws were extended to include other individuals including non-property owners and women.
  • In the 20’s, the American Dream started acquiring a more profound definition characterized by obtaining material items.
  • In the new definition, there were elements of greed that finally led to woes in the stock market and the Great Depression.

Paragraph 3: 

Prominent American politicians have continuously defined the American Dream.

  • One of the greatest supporters of the Dream was President Lincoln who upon becoming president was quick to accord equal opportunities to slaves.
  • Another champion was President Wilson who maintained and pushed forward for accordance with voting rights for women leading to the 19 th Amendment in 1918.
  • President Johnson pushed forward for the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that led to an end of segregation in many Public schools.
  • President Obama promoted the accordance of equal rights to married people regardless of their sexual orientation giving a voice to the LGBT community

Paragraph 4:

President Roosevelt pushed for the idea that attainment of individual freedom requires maximum economic security and independence.

  • Roosevelt protected the US from different elements such as communism, socialism, and Nazism.
  • Through the Second Bill of Rights that the issue of domestic security was addressed and later pushed forward by Truman’s administration.
  • President Obama is the most recent president that redefined the American Dream to include affordable health care, employment opportunities, student loans and government aid.

Paragraph 5: 

In the American society of today, The American Dream may be taken to mean being able to exist in a free and equal society.

  • This is a society where an American is hesitant to impose their cultural values on others but always ready to join fellow Americans in pushing for their common socioeconomic interests.
  • They are concerned about protecting the right of another person and not on the cultural background of that individual.

American history has continuously shaped the American Dream. Although there has been a disagreement on what constitutes the Dream, the founding fathers and the American Presidents have made efforts to define the American Dream as equal opportunities for all.

What is the American Dream Essay Outline

Thesis:  The American Dream is based on the argument that every American citizen regardless of where they are born, their color, their religion, their sexual orientation or their political affiliations can become successful in life by taking risks and working hard and not by chance.

The first American to coin the term American Dream was James Truslow in his book the  Epic of America  in 1931.

  • Therein, he argues that the Dream is not merely a dream of high wages and cars but a dream of social order.
  • The American Dream is more of a charm of anticipated success as put across by a French Historian Alexis de Tocqueville.
  • The charm and the desire has attracted thousands of immigrants to the American shores and set a high bat for other nations across the world.

Ever since the inception of the American Dram, it has acted as a guideline to help Americans pursue their dreams, happiness and attain their maximum potential.

  • In essence, it is all about helping individuals shape their destiny.
  • The basic concept of the American Dream is that success is not guaranteed but rather offers Americans a chance to overcome obstacles to achieve their inner most desires.

Paragraph 3:

The Dream supports commitment to a common set of values and ideals.

  • It makes people acknowledge that a person can be American irrespective of their linguistic, cultural, religious, or ethnic background.
  • All a person has to do so as to be considered an American is to show true commitment to the political ideologies of equality, republicanism, and liberty.

The elusive and difficult nature of the American Dream makes many Americans skeptical on the prospect of achieving it.

  • In a statement made by George Carlin , he posited that it is referred to as the American Dream since one has to be asleep to believe it.
  • Although Carlin interpreted the concept of the American Dream in a loose sense, it is without a doubt that it offers salvation for those who achieve it or damnation for those who fail to achieve it.
  • Those who record success bear a legacy of positive influence while those that fail to achieve it bear a legacy of failure.

Paragraph 5:

The concept of the American Dream highlights the importance of optimism in succeeding in life but it offers no guarantees.

  • As many Americans succeed due to their hard work, optimism and determination, others fail despite having put a lot of hard work towards achieving their dreams.
  • The American Dream is crucial when it comes to fulfilling the American culture.
  • The American culture is one that embraces the concept of success and working towards full potential.
  • The beauty of the entire concept is that it guarantees nothing other than hope.
  • While many are damned towards the course of its fulfillment, many have walked down the path of success and fulfilled the American Dream.

The American Dream is not about a destination but rather a journey towards success. Every American or individual within the borders of the United States has equal opportunities and chances to work his or her way up towards fulfillment of the Dream. It is a guiding light that has helped many attain their dreams.

What is the American Dream Essay Sample 2, with Outline

The beauty of every nation lies with its people’s ability to maintain universal ideals and philosophies. In the United States, there is the standard American Dream concept that guides every right-minded citizen. It is an ideology or a set of ethos that govern American citizens as they go through life or as they build the nation. The American Dream is based on the argument that every American citizen, regardless of where they are born, their color, their religion, their sexual orientation, or their political affiliations, can become successful in life by taking risks and working hard and not by chance.

The first American to coin the term “American Dream” was James Truslow in 1931. Therein, he argues that the Dream is not merely a dream of an extremely expensive life and cars but a dream of social order where every American can become successful regardless of their origin or color. It is more of a charm of anticipated success as put across by a French Historian known as Alexis de Tocqueville. The charm and the desire have attracted thousands of immigrants to the United States and set a high bar for other nations across the world.

Ever since the inception of the concept, it has acted as a guideline to help Americans pursue their dreams and happiness, and attain their maximum potential. In essence, it is all about assisting individuals to shape their destiny. It is important to highlight the fact that the basic idea behind the American Dream concept is that success is not guaranteed but that each American has a chance to overcome obstacles and achieve their innermost desires.

The Dream supports commitment to a common set of values and ideals. It makes people acknowledge that a person can be American irrespective of their linguistic, cultural, religious, or ethnic background. All a person has to do so as to be considered an American is to show true commitment to the political ideologies of equality, republicanism, and liberty. It is through this commitment that one can play their part towards ensuring that the American society exists in a free atmosphere where individuals can pursue their businesses and life dreams without fearing being sanctioned by anybody. However, the manner in which a person pursues their life dreams should not infringe into the rights of another person.

The elusive and challenging nature of the American Dream makes many Americans skeptical about the prospect of achieving it. In a statement made by George Carlin, he posited that it is referred to as the American Dream since one has to be asleep to believe it. Although Carlin interpreted the concept in a loose sense, it is without a doubt that it offers salvation for those who achieve it or damnation for those who fail to realize it. Those who record success bear a legacy of positive influence while those that fail to realize it bear a legacy of failure.

The concept of the American Dream highlights the importance of optimism in succeeding in life, but it offers no guarantees. Therefore, even as many Americans succeed due to their hard work, confidence, and determination, others fail despite having put a lot of hard work towards achieving their dreams. It is without a doubt that the American Dream is crucial when it comes to fulfilling the American culture. The American culture is one that embraces the concept of success and working towards full potential. The beauty of the entire idea is that it guarantees nothing other than hope. Therefore, while many are damned towards the course of its fulfillment, many others have walked down the path of success and fulfilled the American Dream.

In summary, the American Dream is not about a destination but rather a journey towards success. Every American or individual within the borders of the United States have equal opportunities and chances to work his or her way up towards the fulfillment of the Dream. Although there is a lot of disagreement over the definition of the term, one thing is for sure: the American Dream is a guiding light that has helped many Americans realize their dreams.

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The American Dream: College Admission Essay Sample

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Published: Jul 18, 2018

Words: 513 | Pages: 1 | 3 min read

3, 2, 1, and the final whistle blew! The basketball game was over and we had won in overtime! My team from Central Bucks had beaten all of my friends from Council Rock, an unbelievable upset. A good friend and coach, Irv Magill, gave me the opportunity to go to Delaware to play in the Tri-State Maccabi Games for Central Bucks in 2003, and it was an experience I will never forget.

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Practice, practice, practice, and more practice. I traveled about an hour two times a week for a few months to participate in a two hour long practice for this team. It was essential for me to make a full commitment to this team because each practice we had together was crucial to our success. I learned the importance of team and how every member needs to give their best effort in order for the team to work as a whole. I learned the importance of working together to achieve a common goal. I put every ounce of effort that I possibly could into this team. They say “practice makes perfect” and although our team was far from perfect, the dedication that we put forth into making ourselves better paid dividends.

“Quality is better than quantity.” Our team was dependent on this statement. Although the skill level of our team was fairly low, we had one advantage over every other team in the tournament; we had the best coach and we knew it. Irv’s knowledge and ability to teach is extraordinary and was why we were able to have any sort of success at the Maccabi Games. Through Irv, I not only learned a lot about the game of basketball, but I learned a lot about life and the importance to always try your best at whatever you do. I also learned that there is always someone better than you that can teach you as long as you’re willing to learn. You may not be the best at something, but if you work hard and put your hard work to use, anything is possible.

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The “American Dream.” The idea that presented with the opportunity this great country of ours gives us, we can overcome all obstacles, break through all barriers, and achieve anything we put our minds to. Yes, my journey to the Maccabi Games may be an extremely scaled version of this idea, but it fits the mold. We were extreme underdogs (probably the worst team in our age group), but we practiced so hard and were taught so well that we pulled though and were victorious. I may have been just twelve years old but I learned an extremely important lesson. It’s this lesson that’s given me my drive to do well in middle school and high school, and it’s this drive that will make me continue to succeed in college and in the workplace. This is what I want to teach others. The “American Dream” (or some form of it) is out there; you just need to have that dream and go after it.

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