American Dream

American Dream
Today, more than ever, the hope of the American Dream is in trouble. According to David Kamp?s 2009 article, ?Rethinking the American Dream,? the problem with this dream is that it has changed over time, from a desire to improve one?s lot in life based on hard work, to a materialistic nightmare where ?rich? is never enough. But even early- and mid-twentieth-century texts that discussed the concept of the American Dream were rarely idealistic; indeed, many are tragic.

For this essay, you?ll be analyzing ONE common critique of the American Dream across three of the authors we?ve read this semester. You?ll choose one of the two plays (Miller?s Death of a Salesman and Hansberry?s Raisin in the Sun), Gatsby, and three poems from ONE of the four poets (Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Yusef Komunyakaa). Possible problems with the American Dream might be as follows: an emphasis on materialism, a lack of focus on God, the exclusion of some from the Dream (because of race, gender, or social class), the effect of family on achieving the Dream, etc. But you?ll choose ONE such problem and follow the exploration and development of it across your three chosen authors. Do not just note issues of the American Dream that come and go within the texts; make sure your essay has a focused topic and an argument about that topic.

Finally, you?ll be integrating critical articles to help you with your argument. You will include evidence from three different essays, one for each text/author. These should be academic articles (found on the Valor library databases); Shmoop, Wikipedia, Sparknotes, and general biographical information DO NOT count as acceptable sources.


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