Sunday, November 25, 2012
A Contemporary Statement Doubting the American Dream.
"Americans now widely believe that merit, hard work and determination are not enough to get ahead. There is a pessimism that says the Dream will not be there for the next generation. The Dream has been hi-jacked."
"54% of the public believes that it is impossible for most people in the U.S. to achieve the American dream"
In 1993 Bill Clinton proclaimed 'The American dream that we were all raised on is a simple but powerful one – if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be given a chance to go as far as your God-given ability will take you.' However, in 2008 newly appointed President, Barack Obama says 'Many of the American people believe the American dream is slipping away.' The situation that America find its self in economically gives a clear indication that the American dream is falling apart, and Americans themselves are beginning or already doubting that the American dream is even achievable.
Referring to the first statement, it is clear the the American dream in America's current situation is disappearing, that the public are losing faith in a dream that they have held so dear for generations. Even more apparent the idea that the American dream is becoming less and less relevant throughout the generations means that soon it will no longer exist. The problem with having one particular 'dream' that you try and apply to every American and every society is that it does not take into account the influencing factors. America today is in the midst of a recession, the idea of becoming a home owner for many Americans is unachievable, paying for medical care, getting an education, achieving a high paying job, all things that are reliant on the economy. Therefore it is easy to see how the 'dream' can be lost; today's generation will move away from the current 'dream' because its unachievable in the current economic climate...another dream is then formed...which is then passed onto the next generation...and so on until this dream is unachievable. The American dream is never the same for long, therefore it is easy to see how the original American dream is being doubted in 2012, and arguably the original American dream is dead, replaced by a new, relevant and achievable dream.
Applying this to 'Ragged Dick,' who epitomised the original American dream, is practically impossible. The novel today seems like a fairy tale; the society that 'Ragged Dick' triumphs in does not exist. Ragged Dick achieves what he achieves through charisma, luck, and wit...these are things that will get you no where in America society today. 'Ragged Dick' in a way patronises society today, presenting an America that no longer exists, no longer can be achieved. A handful of Americans will achieve the American dream, through luck and wit, they will be the 'Ragged Dick's of the 21st Century, however the majority will not. 'Ragged Dick' cannot even be applied to today's society due to the ever changing dream; the dream that 'Dick' is able to achieve within the novel is not the same as American's are striving to achieve today. The fairy tale of a boy going from 'rags to riches' literally is a fairy tale. There will never be an American dream that can be applied to every American from every generation, there will only ever be an American dream relevant to the time, an American dream that will quickly disappear, quickly change, and once again become unachievable for many Americans.