Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The Death of the American Dream

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The American Dream: the trademark of US society. Its meaning is deeply rooted in the Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are all entitled to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (The Declaration of Independence). The luring Dream attracted thousands of immigrants to the United States and many people, including authors, have been inspired by it, one of them being Hunter S. Thompson. His book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream follows protagonist Raoul Duke in search of the American Dream. While he comes in bars, casinos and hotels, it seems that he never finds what he is looking for: the American Dream has failed him. The situations that Raoul Duke experience are a metaphor for the decaying American Dream and the corruption in American society due to growing social discontent. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a satiric book, one that explores the myth of the American Dream within the tumultuous 1960s. On the first pages we learn that Raoul Duke is a journalist, travelling from California to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400. Thus, Duke is travelling eastward and this can be seen as the first indicator that Thompson is pulling the American Dream’s leg: Daniel Joseph Fyfe states that in the “mythos of the American Dream the heroic trek westward has always been a defining aspect of American character” (emphasis added) (Fyfe 245). However, Thompson chooses to let Duke travel east: back into the country, into American society; exactly back to the place where the ‘Manifest Destiny’ once started, almost inverting the American Dream. When the story continues, we learn that Duke is not only travelling to Las Vegas to cover a motor... ... middle of paper ... ... Dream: Correlates of Financial Success as a Central Life Aspiration." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65.2 (1993): 410 - 422. Nuttall, Nick. "'Apocalypse and Hell': Hunter S. Thompson's American Dream." Literary Journalism Studies 4.1 (2012): 103 - 116. Simões, Elsa Maria Barreto and Maria Do Céu Marques. “O Sonho Americano em Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.” Dissertation of Universidade Aberta, 2007. The Declaration of Independence. National Archives. n.d. web. 18 November 2013. . Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. New York: Vintage, 1971. Williams, Cecile B. "From Rags to Riches: Horatio Alger and the American Dream." American Literature 37.1 (1965): 82 - 84.
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