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Essay on What Is the American Dream?

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What is the American dream? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the American Dream as, “An American social ideal that stresses egalitarianism and material prosperity.” The American Dream has always encompassed that general idea, but different aspects of it have evolved during specific time periods.
The idea of the American dream was first introduced in the late 1800s with the sudden influx of immigrants. For millions of immigrants, America was intended as a harbor to escape from political, religious, and economic troubles. For foreigners, the American dream was to live better than before, that through hard work and perseverance, one can achieve greatness. However the start of the Industrial Revolution proved that the American dream would be hard to achieve. Life became extremely grueling, especially with the new found difficulties immigrants faced in a foreign country. Immigrants faced language barriers and were forced to learn English. In addition, working conditions were unsafe and were usually paired with low income. Living conditions weren’t any better as immigrant families were generally packed in cold, filthy, and cramped apartments. Corruption was inevitable as people wanted to reach the top. Matthew Warshauer, author of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Changing Conception of the American Dream,” writes, “The emphasis on good fortune rather than industriousness and perseverance is eroding the work ethic that once made the American dream a respectable goal.” (Warshauer) Warshauer would agree that the notion of diligence and determination to acquire wealth changed completely with the introduction of factories and manufactures. Even though immigrants experienced these struggles, many still believed that through diligenc...


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... File, Inc., 2006. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=EABH0037&SingleRecord=True (accessed March 25, 2014).
Johnson, Lorie A. "The American Dream Does Not Exist." Is the American Dream a Myth? Ed. Kate Burns. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. At Issue. Rpt. from "The 'American Dream': A Delusion?" www.sunfell.com. 2001. Gale Power Search. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.
Ray H. Abrams, "The Concept of Family Stability," Annals of the Amer. Acad. of Political and Social Science, Vol. 272, pp. 1-8 (November 1950), p. 4.
Warshauer, Matthew. "The American Dream Still Exists." Is the American Dream a Myth? Ed. Kate Burns. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. At Issue. Rpt. from "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: Changing Conceptions of the American Dream." American Studies Today Online. 2003. Gale Power Search. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.


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