The American Myth Essay

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The American Myth “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” (Franklin 2). This is what the founding fathers of this nation thought to be the key to success. Hard work is what they thought needed to be done in order to achieve their dreams, their American dreams. Today, hard work is what one thinks of last when wanting to achieve the American dream. Traditionally Americans have come to think that the American dream of success, fame, and wealth comes through with thrift and hard work. However today the words hard and work do not seem to go together and have come to be just words with no meaning. The American dream is a myth it exist no more, the dream has come to be more of an entitlement than something to work towards. In order to demonstrate the myth of the American dream one must look at how this nation and its government are corrupting the dream. The American dream is the vacation one has wanted to take for years now, but there never seems to be enough money and time for it. Throughout childhood one is told by parents, teachers, friends, and family members that one is capable of doing anything is this world. They lie so that one can grow up thinking that everything is possible and have the motivation to keep on going. “We all still hold it (American dream) in our hearts as what America was built on. Even if in our minds we know it is a lie, a fairytale perpetuated to keep as marching to the tune” (Kiser 1). Secondly, the American dream is something one fantasizes about but does not really make it happen. Yet another piece of evidence is F. Scott Fitzgerald, who in the classic twentieth-century story, The Great Gatsby, shows how Gatsby, as the novel unfolds, realizes that his idea and pursuit of Daisy is more rewarding than the actual attainment of her. That is exactly what one does with the American dream; one plans it carefully and takes great pleasure doing so. However one has no intension of actually accomplishing it. “A study of attitudes in 27 countries found that Americans, more than people elsewhere, tend to believe that intelligence, skill and effort will be rewarded with success” (Brownstein 1). Americans are the most vulnerable and motivated by this. Clearly it can be said that the American dream is a myth. Something one wants to own and plan but not accomplish. Upper class Americans will always stay upper class and middle/lower class ones will always stay middle/lower class. One good example would be young people who begin with the most advantages and are more likely than the less well-off to have an advantage in education. And education is the one and only true key to success. A report done by Sawhill and Haskins showed that children of parents who attended college and are at higher social status, have more opportunities to also attend college and eventually gain a high social status, also children born to low-income parents in the U.S. are more likely to remain trapped near the bottom, and like Haskin stated “It’s a completely unsettling trend” (Haskin 1). The opportunities upper class students own are tremendously exceptional, their schools are more equipped than public ones; they have better academic, art, sports, and music programs. And in an “environment like this, upward mobility becomes tougher” (Brownstein 1). Children whose parents received some type of college degree are now almost five times more likely to also complete and receive some college degree than are the children whose parents did not. Yet another piece of evidence is F. Scott Fitzgerald, who in his classic, The Great Gatsby, shows that a person from any social background could make a fortune. However it is the American aristocracy-families with old money who despised the newly rich industrialists and speculator. In the novel people like Tom and Daisy will always be rich, and people like Gatsby and Nick will always be middle class. Indeed it is clear that old money will forever be old money,