No other few words in American history are more well-known and iconic than the phrase from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (492). Recognized by some as one of the most eloquent and influential sentences in the history American text, Thomas Jefferson’s words have stuck with us for more than two centuries and we still don’t have a clear definition of what these “unalienable rights” truly mean. While many usually can agree on the meanings of life and liberty, happiness on the other hand has long been a matter of discourse. As Americans embark into a new ideal of American life, it's worth contemplating about what this indefinable phrase really means. Though our nation’s founding document states that we are given these rights, what did Jefferson really mean by the pursuit of happiness? Is happiness truly attainable? And more importantly what is the meaning for us today?
The statement issued by Congress on July 4, 1776, as America split bonds with Britain and embarked on a path of Independence, has become a distinctive American concept. In the forming of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson is said to have taken from John Locke's Second Treatise of Government which notes "life, liberty, and estate" and “lives, liberties, and fortunes” replacing the third term for happiness. “In any case, it can hardly be doubted that for many Americans—Jefferson included—property in the eighteenth century was a value associated with the pursuit of happiness, taking its place alongside life, liberty, and
security as basic ri...
... middle of paper ...
... Kamp. "Rethinking the American Dream." Vanity Fair 1 Apr. 2009: Research Library, ProQuest. Web. 20 Jul. 2011.
Leland, John. "The Nation; Pursuing Happiness, Jefferson To J.Lo." New York Times 29 June 2003: 1. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 20 July 2011.
McMahon, Darrin M. "The Market and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Society 43.2 (2006): 53-61. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 20 July 2011.
Norberg, Johan. "The Scientist’s Pursuit of Happiness.” Policy 21.3 (2005): 9-13. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 20 July 2011.
O'Rourke, P.J. "Life, Liberty, and Whoop-de-do!." Forbes 168.14 (2001): 18-20. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 20 July 2011.
Sandler, Lauren. "The American Nightmare: We Have Everything the American Dream Prescribed, So Why Aren't We Happy?" Psychology Today 44.2 (2011): 70-77. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 20 July 2011.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- C. Wright Mills had a dream, and his dream was for everyone to understand his notion of “sociological imagination,” which he explained as: “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both” (Mills 1959:1). A more contemporary sociologist, Annette Lareau, had similar ideas and led an extensive research comparing the influence of class and race when it came to children’s ability to succeed in school. Lareau (1995:351) concluded that “the largest differences between the families we observed were across social class, not racial groups.... [tags: Working class, Social class, Middle class]
1739 words (5 pages)
- The American dream originated when immigrants came to America searching for new opportunities and a better life. In the early 1900’s all people could do is dream; however, those dreams gave many different meanings to the phrase “American dream”, and for the most part, wealth and hard work play a very large role in the pursuit of “the dream”. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, and Arthur Miller’s drama, Death of a Salesman, both protagonists, Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman, are convinced that the way to achieve a better life is by living the “American dream”.... [tags: Essays on the American Dream]
1490 words (4.3 pages)
- "We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything’s possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.” -- President Obama, Commenting on the American Dream The American Dream is a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success. It is the belief that, no matter how poor you begin life, you can achieve upward social mobility for your family and children. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, crushes the ethos of the American Dream.... [tags: Essays on Death of a Salesman]
1050 words (3 pages)
- Tell me where you were born and I'll tell you your future. This is the harsh reality facing the vast majority of the world's population, particularly in developing countries where the concentration of wealth is striking. Take Bangladesh (8th most populous country on earth) for example, with a population half that of the United States but a GDP(Gross Domestic Product) that is 141 times smaller and that gap is only getting bigger. This is not the only problem however, even scarier is the growing disparity of income within countries themselves.... [tags: poor, segregation, rich, inquality]
1960 words (5.6 pages)
- The United States of America is perceived to be the nation where everyone has the chance to succeed, an ethos which has been dubbed the American Dream. The Dream, which is truly a dream, is that every man, woman, and child can succeed if they work hard enough. Yet, in Death of a Salesman the American Dream is dead. The debate as to whether or not the American Dream is functioning has always been based on the perspective of whoever is judging it. In essence, a person’s social, political, and economic situation shapes their decisions as to whether or not it is alive and well.... [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller, Demonstration]
2022 words (5.8 pages)
- Miller's work on “Death of a Salesman” is an example piece of work furthering the social protest involving totalitarianism and the American Dream. Throughout the piece, Miller uses his voice of conscience and passion for the purpose of exposing the truth about the concepts. Using the perspective of Willy, a fictional, working class citizen, Miller picks apart the myth of the American Dream, exploring topics such as abandonment, betrayal, family dynamics, and using interesting symbolism along the way.... [tags: Essays on Death of a Salesman]
1234 words (3.5 pages)
- "The American Dream" is based on the 'Declaration of IndependenceÂ´: 'We believe that all men are born with these inalienable rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.Â´ (Thomas Jefferson, 1776). This 'dreamÂ´ consists of a genuine and determined belief that in America, all things are possible to all men, regardless of birth or wealth; you work hard enough you will achieve anything. However, Miller says people have been 'ultimately misguidedÂ´. The origins of the American Dream seem to have been rooted in the pioneering mentality of the 18th and 19th century immigrants, most of whom came to America because of a promise of a new and better life.... [tags: Death of a Salesman]
1563 words (4.5 pages)
- The Shattered Dream in Death of a Salesman In America, anyone with some drive, some talent, and half a brain can be a success. Or so Willy Loman believes. Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman tells the story of a man who seems predestined for failure, though he tries his best to succeed. Willy Loman is a symbol for the common man who tries and tries and tries, but is somehow unable to attain the "American Dream" of status and success. Miller combines the archetypal tragic hero with the common American citizen.... [tags: Death Salesman essays]
1759 words (5 pages)
- Dream a Little Dream My grandmother always said, “you cannot choose between life or death while sleeping”. When you are sleeping, your body practically doesn’t belong to you. Its almost as though you have no control over anything that might happen to you in your dreams, especially if it is something dangerous. When I ask people why this happens, they theorize that a powerful force or being has entrapped your body. You could end up dying in your dreams, thus leading to your death or illness in reality.... [tags: Narrative Essay Dying Death Asleep]
944 words (2.7 pages)
- Income inequality has affected American citizens ever since the American Dream came to existence. The American Dream is centered around the concept of working hard and earning enough money to support a family, own a home, send children to college, and invest for retirement. Economic gains in income are one of the only possible ways to achieve enough wealth to fulfill the dream. Unfortunately, many people cannot achieve this dream due to low income. Income inequality refers to the uneven distribution of income and wealth between the social classes of American citizens.... [tags: the american dream, social norms]
939 words (2.7 pages)