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The American Dream

General information:
- freedom, liberty and pursuit of happiness - every individual is given the chance to be successful, wealthy and rich from rags to riches - the Statue of Liberty is the symbol for the American Dream

History:
- Pilgrims the first immigrants to the United States - came from Plymouth to Cape Cod, MA in 1620 - were searching religious freedom and a new home (religious dream) - also searching a better political system democracy (political dream) - social dream equal rights for every individual - their ship was called Mayflower. - they signed the Mayflower Compact, which says that they would have to obey all the laws for the good of the colony. - It also gave them the right to govern themselves. - More colonies were established westward movement Frontier - The frontier for the pilgrims was the boundary between the settled and the unsettled land. - The Declaration of Independence signed on the 4th of July 1776 by the first 13 colonies Independence of the British Empire - 1789: the Constitution contains the first principles of democratic government - 1791: the Bill of Rights is added giving equal basic rights to every American citizen. - As time went on the frontier moved westwards as new land got explored and settled. - Gold Rush especially in California American Dream of prosperity - Manifest Destiny As God's chosen country it was America's destiny to overspread the whole continent. - (Picture American Progress by John Gast) - 1860: Civil War African Americans were mostly slaves and victims of racism American Dream of social equality for all races which hasn't been archived until Martin Luther Kings time.

August 28th 1963: Martin Luther Kings speech I have a Dream


- criticizes the American society black people live in Ghettos(Segregation), don't have the same rights as white people, cannot live in freedom, don't have equal chances etc. the nation is divided - the American Dream will continue to be a dream if nothing changes - all African Americans have to http://www.facebook.com/photo.php? fbid=395807710449298&set=a.152624404767631.26643.100000602165561&type=1&theater &notif_t=photo_comment#!/photo.php? fbid=335810273132959&set=a.294025803978073.59808.212025555511432&type=1&theater work together in order to achieve a change - King explains his dream of a better future

equal opportunities for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for every individual - allusions to the Declaration of Independence, the Bible, and the Constitution - one of the greatest speeches of history and a criticism of the American Dream

The American Dream Today

focuses on success of individual (not on wellbeing of whole population)

applies to individual wealth lower taxes, little interference of the state no social fond for the poor, no serious interest in important issues like environmental protection etc. ( sort of egoistic) way of life, patriotism, optimism (from rags to riches always stay positive) applies to individual wealth dream of social order: men, women, Blacks, Whites, Catholics and Protestants

everybody has same rights, opportunity to reach his aims pursuit of happiness regardless of ethnic/social background

The American Dream in the 20th century:

in the 20th century the American Dream had its challenges

Great Depression caused widespread hardship during Thirties almost a reverse of the dream for those directly affected Racial instability did not disappear, in some parts of the country racial violence was almost commonplace Since end of World War II, young American families have sought to live in relative comfort and stability in the suburbs edge cities rise of the relatively conservative 1950s (considered as the perfect family) period was shattered by a new generation of young people

hippie values (1960s), denying traditional values such as American Dream

cultural spread; different definitions of the American Dream 1990s: the pursuit of the American Dream: the Dot-com boom

everybody poured his energy into the new Gold Rush - the Internet driven by same faith/motivation that by one's ingenuity and hard work, anyone can become successful in America ( ordinary people started companies in their garages and became rich (for example Bill Gates) attracted many entrepreneurial people from China and India to form start-ups and seek fortune in America new rush of immigrants

The American Dream after the financial crisis:

Social researchers uncovered interesting trend

even people who stayed unaffected by crisis are pulling back on spending clipping coupons, abandoning of shopping malls, planting backyard gardens working on sustainability survey by National Gardening Association: 7 million more households plan to grow own food in 2009 (increase of 19% over last year) national saving rate jumped to 5,7% of disposable income (average rate 0,5%) Americans are less wasteful Landfills nationwide report: incoming trash is down by as much as 30% more recycling sustainability long-term behaviour shift ( away from conspicuous consumption and credit-fueled extravagance) economic downturn might have forced Americans to reassess their values and actions How could this crisis happen? familiy, friends, values like houses/property or maybe gold become much more important

Two different images of the USA:

melting pot: USA as a nation of nations people of different cultures/ ethnic or social background melt together

loss of individuality, take over of the American identity

salad bowl metaphor: all the different cultures are combined like a salad opportunity to keep your own distinct qualities

Death of a Salesman: - the main character Willy believes in the American Dream, he believes that if he is working hard enough and is being liked, he will be successful and gain material comforts - he is so obssessed with the dream and no matter how hard he tries he cant reach it - In the end he commits suicide, because he thinks he hasnt acomplished anything. the drama criticises the American Dream and shows that it is unreachable for many people