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The Great Gatsby is a tragic love story on the surface, but it's most commonly understood as a pessimistic critique of the American Dream. In the novel, Jay Gatsby overcomes his poor past to gain an incredible amount of money and a limited amount of social cache in 1920s NYC, only to be rejected by the "old money" crowd. He then gets killed after being tangled up with them.

Through Gatsby's life, as well as that of the Wilsons', Fitzgerald critiques the idea that America is a meritocracy where anyone can rise to the top with enough hard work. We will explore how this theme plays out in the plot, briefly analyze some key quotes about it, as well as do some character analysis and broader analysis of topics surrounding the American Dream in The Great Gatsby .

What is the American Dream? The American Dream in the Great Gatsby plot Key American Dream quotes Analyzing characters via the American Dream Common discussion and essay topics

Quick Note on Our Citations

Our citation format in this guide is (chapter.paragraph). We're using this system since there are many editions of Gatsby, so using page numbers would only work for students with our copy of the book.

To find a quotation we cite via chapter and paragraph in your book, you can either eyeball it (Paragraph 1-50: beginning of chapter; 50-100: middle of chapter; 100-on: end of chapter), or use the search function if you're using an online or eReader version of the text.

What Exactly Is "The American Dream"?

The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of race, class, gender, or nationality, can be successful in America (read: rich) if they just work hard enough. The American Dream thus presents a pretty rosy view of American society that ignores problems like systemic racism and misogyny, xenophobia, tax evasion or state tax avoidance, and income inequality. It also presumes a myth of class equality, when the reality is America has a pretty well-developed class hierarchy.

The 1920s in particular was a pretty tumultuous time due to increased immigration (and the accompanying xenophobia), changing women's roles (spurred by the right to vote, which was won in 1919), and extraordinary income inequality.

The country was also in the midst of an economic boom, which fueled the belief that anyone could "strike it rich" on Wall Street. However, this rapid economic growth was built on a bubble which popped in 1929. The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, well before the crash, but through its wry descriptions of the ultra-wealthy, it seems to somehow predict that the fantastic wealth on display in 1920s New York was just as ephemeral as one of Gatsby's parties.

In any case, the novel, just by being set in the 1920s, is unlikely to present an optimistic view of the American Dream, or at least a version of the dream that's inclusive to all genders, ethnicities, and incomes. With that background in mind, let's jump into the plot!

The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

Chapter 1 places us in a particular year—1922—and gives us some background about WWI.  This is relevant, since the 1920s is presented as a time of hollow decadence among the wealthy, as evidenced especially by the parties in Chapters 2 and 3. And as we mentioned above, the 1920s were a particularly tense time in America.

We also meet George and Myrtle Wilson in Chapter 2 , both working class people who are working to improve their lot in life, George through his work, and Myrtle through her affair with Tom Buchanan.

We learn about Gatsby's goal in Chapter 4 : to win Daisy back. Despite everything he owns, including fantastic amounts of money and an over-the-top mansion, for Gatsby, Daisy is the ultimate status symbol. So in Chapter 5 , when Daisy and Gatsby reunite and begin an affair, it seems like Gatsby could, in fact, achieve his goal.

In Chapter 6 , we learn about Gatsby's less-than-wealthy past, which not only makes him look like the star of a rags-to-riches story, it makes Gatsby himself seem like someone in pursuit of the American Dream, and for him the personification of that dream is Daisy.

However, in Chapters 7 and 8 , everything comes crashing down: Daisy refuses to leave Tom, Myrtle is killed, and George breaks down and kills Gatsby and then himself, leaving all of the "strivers" dead and the old money crowd safe. Furthermore, we learn in those last chapters that Gatsby didn't even achieve all his wealth through hard work, like the American Dream would stipulate—instead, he earned his money through crime. (He did work hard and honestly under Dan Cody, but lost Dan Cody's inheritance to his ex-wife.)

In short, things do not turn out well for our dreamers in the novel! Thus, the novel ends with Nick's sad meditation on the lost promise of the American Dream. You can read a detailed analysis of these last lines in our summary of the novel's ending .

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Key American Dream Quotes

In this section we analyze some of the most important quotes that relate to the American Dream in the book.

But I didn't call to him for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone--he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward--and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. (1.152)

In our first glimpse of Jay Gatsby, we see him reaching towards something far off, something in sight but definitely out of reach. This famous image of the green light is often understood as part of The Great Gatsby 's meditation on The American Dream—the idea that people are always reaching towards something greater than themselves that is just out of reach . You can read more about this in our post all about the green light .

The fact that this yearning image is our introduction to Gatsby foreshadows his unhappy end and also marks him as a dreamer, rather than people like Tom or Daisy who were born with money and don't need to strive for anything so far off.

Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.

A dead man passed us in a hearse heaped with blooms, followed by two carriages with drawn blinds and by more cheerful carriages for friends. The friends looked out at us with the tragic eyes and short upper lips of south-eastern Europe, and I was glad that the sight of Gatsby's splendid car was included in their somber holiday. As we crossed Blackwell's Island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish Negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.

"Anything can happen now that we've slid over this bridge," I thought; "anything at all. . . ."

Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder. (4.55-8)

Early in the novel, we get this mostly optimistic illustration of the American Dream—we see people of different races and nationalities racing towards NYC, a city of unfathomable possibility. This moment has all the classic elements of the American Dream—economic possibility, racial and religious diversity, a carefree attitude. At this moment, it does feel like "anything can happen," even a happy ending.

However, this rosy view eventually gets undermined by the tragic events later in the novel. And even at this point, Nick's condescension towards the people in the other cars reinforces America's racial hierarchy that disrupts the idea of the American Dream. There is even a little competition at play, a "haughty rivalry" at play between Gatsby's car and the one bearing the "modish Negroes."

Nick "laughs aloud" at this moment, suggesting he thinks it's amusing that the passengers in this other car see them as equals, or even rivals to be bested. In other words, he seems to firmly believe in the racial hierarchy Tom defends in Chapter 1, even if it doesn't admit it honestly.

His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy's white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete. (6.134)

This moment explicitly ties Daisy to all of Gatsby's larger dreams for a better life —to his American Dream. This sets the stage for the novel's tragic ending, since Daisy cannot hold up under the weight of the dream Gatsby projects onto her. Instead, she stays with Tom Buchanan, despite her feelings for Gatsby. Thus when Gatsby fails to win over Daisy, he also fails to achieve his version of the American Dream. This is why so many people read the novel as a somber or pessimistic take on the American Dream, rather than an optimistic one.  

...as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes--a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night." (9.151-152)

The closing pages of the novel reflect at length on the American Dream, in an attitude that seems simultaneously mournful, appreciative, and pessimistic. It also ties back to our first glimpse of Gatsby, reaching out over the water towards the Buchanan's green light. Nick notes that Gatsby's dream was "already behind him" then (or in other words, it was impossible to attain). But still, he finds something to admire in how Gatsby still hoped for a better life, and constantly reached out toward that brighter future.

For a full consideration of these last lines and what they could mean, see our analysis of the novel's ending .

Analyzing Characters Through the American Dream

An analysis of the characters in terms of the American Dream usually leads to a pretty cynical take on the American Dream.

Most character analysis centered on the American Dream will necessarily focus on Gatsby, George, or Myrtle (the true strivers in the novel), though as we'll discuss below, the Buchanans can also provide some interesting layers of discussion. For character analysis that incorporates the American Dream, carefully consider your chosen character's motivations and desires, and how the novel does (or doesn't!) provide glimpses of the dream's fulfillment for them.

Gatsby himself is obviously the best candidate for writing about the American Dream—he comes from humble roots (he's the son of poor farmers from North Dakota) and rises to be notoriously wealthy, only for everything to slip away from him in the end. Many people also incorporate Daisy into their analyses as the physical representation of Gatsby's dream.

However, definitely consider the fact that in the traditional American Dream, people achieve their goals through honest hard work, but in Gatsby's case, he very quickly acquires a large amount of money through crime . Gatsby does attempt the hard work approach, through his years of service to Dan Cody, but that doesn't work out since Cody's ex-wife ends up with the entire inheritance. So instead he turns to crime, and only then does he manage to achieve his desired wealth.

So while Gatsby's story arc resembles a traditional rags-to-riches tale, the fact that he gained his money immorally complicates the idea that he is a perfect avatar for the American Dream . Furthermore, his success obviously doesn't last—he still pines for Daisy and loses everything in his attempt to get her back. In other words, Gatsby's huge dreams, all precariously wedded to Daisy  ("He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God" (6.134)) are as flimsy and flight as Daisy herself.

George and Myrtle Wilson

This couple also represents people aiming at the dream— George owns his own shop and is doing his best to get business, though is increasingly worn down by the harsh demands of his life, while Myrtle chases after wealth and status through an affair with Tom.

Both are disempowered due to the lack of money at their own disposal —Myrtle certainly has access to some of the "finer things" through Tom but has to deal with his abuse, while George is unable to leave his current life and move West since he doesn't have the funds available. He even has to make himself servile to Tom in an attempt to get Tom to sell his car, a fact that could even cause him to overlook the evidence of his wife's affair. So neither character is on the upward trajectory that the American Dream promises, at least during the novel.

In the end, everything goes horribly wrong for both George and Myrtle, suggesting that in this world, it's dangerous to strive for more than you're given.

George and Myrtle's deadly fates, along with Gatsby's, help illustrate the novel's pessimistic attitude toward the American Dream. After all, how unfair is it that the couple working to improve their position in society (George and Myrtle) both end up dead, while Tom, who dragged Myrtle into an increasingly dangerous situation, and Daisy, who killed her, don't face any consequences? And on top of that they are fabulously wealthy? The American Dream certainly is not alive and well for the poor Wilsons.

Tom and Daisy as Antagonists to the American Dream

We've talked quite a bit already about Gatsby, George, and Myrtle—the three characters who come from humble roots and try to climb the ranks in 1920s New York. But what about the other major characters, especially the ones born with money? What is their relationship to the American Dream?

Specifically, Tom and Daisy have old money, and thus they don't need the American Dream, since they were born with America already at their feet.

Perhaps because of this, they seem to directly antagonize the dream—Daisy by refusing Gatsby, and Tom by helping to drag the Wilsons into tragedy .

This is especially interesting because unlike Gatsby, Myrtle, and George, who actively hope and dream of a better life, Daisy and Tom are described as bored and "careless," and end up instigating a large amount of tragedy through their own recklessness.

In other words, income inequality and the vastly different starts in life the characters have strongly affected their outcomes. The way they choose to live their lives, their morality (or lack thereof), and how much they dream doesn't seem to matter. This, of course, is tragic and antithetical to the idea of the American Dream, which claims that class should be irrelevant and anyone can rise to the top.

Daisy as a Personification of the American Dream

As we discuss in our post on money and materialism in The Great Gatsby , Daisy's voice is explicitly tied to money by Gatsby:

"Her voice is full of money," he said suddenly.

That was it. I'd never understood before. It was full of money--that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it. . . . High in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl. . . . (7.105-6)

If Daisy's voice promises money, and the American Dream is explicitly linked to wealth, it's not hard to argue that Daisy herself—along with the green light at the end of her dock —stands in for the American Dream. In fact, as Nick goes on to describe Daisy as "High in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl," he also seems to literally describe Daisy as a prize, much like the princess at the end of a fairy tale (or even Princess Peach at the end of a Mario game!).

But Daisy, of course, is only human—flawed, flighty, and ultimately unable to embody the huge fantasy Gatsby projects onto her. So this, in turn, means that the American Dream itself is just a fantasy, a concept too flimsy to actually hold weight, especially in the fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world of 1920s America.

Furthermore, you should definitely consider the tension between the fact that Daisy represents Gatsby's ultimate goal, but at the same time (as we discussed above), her actual life is the opposite of the American Dream : she is born with money and privilege, likely dies with it all intact, and there are no consequences to how she chooses to live her life in between.

Can Female Characters Achieve the American Dream?

Finally, it's interesting to compare and contrast some of the female characters using the lens of the American Dream.

Let's start with Daisy, who is unhappy in her marriage and, despite a brief attempt to leave it, remains with Tom, unwilling to give up the status and security their marriage provides. At first, it may seem like Daisy doesn't dream at all, so of course she ends up unhappy. But consider the fact that Daisy was already born into the highest level of American society. The expectation placed on her, as a wealthy woman, was never to pursue something greater, but simply to maintain her status. She did that by marrying Tom, and it's understandable why she wouldn't risk the uncertainty and loss of status that would come through divorce and marriage to a bootlegger. Again, Daisy seems to typify the "anti-American" dream, in that she was born into a kind of aristocracy and simply has to maintain her position, not fight for something better.

In contrast, Myrtle, aside from Gatsby, seems to be the most ambitiously in pursuit of getting more than she was given in life. She parlays her affair with Tom into an apartment, nice clothes, and parties, and seems to revel in her newfound status. But of course, she is knocked down the hardest, killed for her involvement with the Buchanans, and specifically for wrongfully assuming she had value to them. Considering that Gatsby did have a chance to leave New York and distance himself from the unfolding tragedy, but Myrtle was the first to be killed, you could argue the novel presents an even bleaker view of the American Dream where women are concerned.

Even Jordan Baker , who seems to be living out a kind of dream by playing golf and being relatively independent, is tied to her family's money and insulated from consequences by it , making her a pretty poor representation of the dream. And of course, since her end game also seems to be marriage, she doesn't push the boundaries of women's roles as far as she might wish.

So while the women all push the boundaries of society's expectations of them in certain ways, they either fall in line or are killed, which definitely undermines the rosy of idea that anyone, regardless of gender, can make it in America. The American Dream as shown in Gatsby becomes even more pessimistic through the lens of the female characters.  

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Common Essay Questions/Discussion Topics

Now let's work through some of the more frequently brought up subjects for discussion.

#1: Was Gatsby's dream worth it? Was all the work, time, and patience worth it for him?

Like me, you might immediately think "of course it wasn't worth it! Gatsby lost everything, not to mention the Wilsons got caught up in the tragedy and ended up dead!" So if you want to make the more obvious "the dream wasn't worth it" argument, you could point to the unraveling that happens at the end of the novel (including the deaths of Myrtle, Gatsby and George) and how all Gatsby's achievements are for nothing, as evidenced by the sparse attendance of his funeral.

However, you could definitely take the less obvious route and argue that Gatsby's dream was worth it, despite the tragic end . First of all, consider Jay's unique characterization in the story: "He was a son of God--a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that--and he must be about His Father's Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty" (6.7). In other words, Gatsby has a larger-than-life persona and he never would have been content to remain in North Dakota to be poor farmers like his parents.

Even if he ends up living a shorter life, he certainly lived a full one full of adventure. His dreams of wealth and status took him all over the world on Dan Cody's yacht, to Louisville where he met and fell in love with Daisy, to the battlefields of WWI, to the halls of Oxford University, and then to the fast-paced world of Manhattan in the early 1920s, when he earned a fortune as a bootlegger. In fact, it seems Jay lived several lives in the space of just half a normal lifespan. In short, to argue that Gatsby's dream was worth it, you should point to his larger-than-life conception of himself and the fact that he could have only sought happiness through striving for something greater than himself, even if that ended up being deadly in the end.

#2: In the Langston Hughes poem "A Dream Deferred," Hughes asks questions about what happens to postponed dreams. How does Fitzgerald examine this issue of deferred dreams? What do you think are the effects of postponing our dreams? How can you apply this lesson to your own life?

If you're thinking about "deferred dreams" in The Great Gatsby , the big one is obviously Gatsby's deferred dream for Daisy—nearly five years pass between his initial infatuation and his attempt in the novel to win her back, an attempt that obviously backfires. You can examine various aspects of Gatsby's dream—the flashbacks to his first memories of Daisy in Chapter 8 , the moment when they reunite in Chapter 5 , or the disastrous consequences of the confrontation of Chapter 7 —to illustrate Gatsby's deferred dream.

You could also look at George Wilson's postponed dream of going West, or Myrtle's dream of marrying a wealthy man of "breeding"—George never gets the funds to go West, and is instead mired in the Valley of Ashes, while Myrtle's attempt to achieve her dream after 12 years of marriage through an affair ends in tragedy. Apparently, dreams deferred are dreams doomed to fail.

As Nick Carraway says, "you can't repeat the past"—the novel seems to imply there is a small window for certain dreams, and when the window closes, they can no longer be attained. This is pretty pessimistic, and for the prompt's personal reflection aspect, I wouldn't say you should necessarily "apply this lesson to your own life" straightforwardly. But it is worth noting that certain opportunities are fleeting, and perhaps it's wiser to seek out newer and/or more attainable ones, rather than pining over a lost chance.

Any prompt like this one which has a section of more personal reflection gives you freedom to tie in your own experiences and point of view, so be thoughtful and think of good examples from your own life!

what is the american dream to you essay

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#3: Explain how the novel does or does not demonstrate the death of the American Dream. Is the main theme of Gatsby indeed "the withering American Dream"? What does the novel offer about American identity?

In this prompt, another one that zeroes in on the dead or dying American Dream, you could discuss how the destruction of three lives (Gatsby, George, Myrtle) and the cynical portrayal of the old money crowd illustrates a dead, or dying American Dream . After all, if the characters who dream end up dead, and the ones who were born into life with money and privilege get to keep it without consequence, is there any room at all for the idea that less-privileged people can work their way up?

In terms of what the novel says about American identity, there are a few threads you could pick up—one is Nick's comment in Chapter 9 about the novel really being a story about (mid)westerners trying (and failing) to go East : "I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all--Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life" (9.125). This observation suggests an American identity that is determined by birthplace, and that within the American identity there are smaller, inescapable points of identification.

Furthermore, for those in the novel not born into money, the American identity seems to be about striving to end up with more wealth and status. But in terms of the portrayal of the old money set, particularly Daisy, Tom, and Jordan, the novel presents a segment of American society that is essentially aristocratic—you have to be born into it. In that regard, too, the novel presents a fractured American identity, with different lives possible based on how much money you are born with.

In short, I think the novel disrupts the idea of a unified American identity or American dream, by instead presenting a tragic, fractured, and rigid American society, one that is divided based on both geographic location and social class.

#4: Most would consider dreams to be positive motivators to achieve success, but the characters in the novel often take their dreams of ideal lives too far. Explain how characters' American Dreams cause them to have pain when they could have been content with more modest ambitions.

Gatsby is an obvious choice here—his pursuit of money and status, particularly through Daisy, leads him to ruin. There were many points when perhaps Gatsby ;could have been happy with what he achieved (especially after his apparently successful endeavors in the war, if he had remained at Oxford, or even after amassing a great amount of wealth as a bootlegger) but instead he kept striving upward, which ultimately lead to his downfall. You can flesh this argument out with the quotations in Chapters 6 and 8 about Gatsby's past, along with his tragic death.

Myrtle would be another good choice for this type of prompt. In a sense, she seems to be living her ideal life in her affair with Tom—she has a fancy NYC apartment, hosts parties, and gets to act sophisticated—but these pleasures end up gravely hurting George, and of course her association with Tom Buchanan gets her killed.

Nick, too, if he had been happy with his family's respectable fortune and his girlfriend out west, might have avoided the pain of knowing Gatsby and the general sense of despair he was left with.

You might be wondering about George—after all, isn't he someone also dreaming of a better life? However, there aren't many instances of George taking his dreams of an ideal life "too far." In fact, he struggles just to make one car sale so that he can finally move out West with Myrtle. Also, given that his current situation in the Valley of Ashes is quite bleak, it's hard to say that striving upward gave him pain.

#5: The Great Gatsby is, among other things, a sobering and even ominous commentary on the dark side of the American dream. Discuss this theme, incorporating the conflicts of East Egg vs. West Egg and old money vs. new money. What does the American dream mean to Gatsby? What did the American Dream mean to Fitzgerald? How does morality fit into achieving the American dream?

This prompt allows you to consider pretty broadly the novel's attitude toward the American Dream, with emphasis on "sobering and even ominous" commentary. Note that Fitzgerald seems to be specifically mocking the stereotypical rags to riches story here—;especially since he draws the Dan Cody narrative almost note for note from the work of someone like Horatio Alger, whose books were almost universally about rich men schooling young, entrepreneurial boys in the ways of the world. In other words, you should discuss how the Great Gatsby seems to turn the idea of the American Dream as described in the quote on its head: Gatsby does achieve a rags-to-riches rise, but it doesn't last.

All of Gatsby's hard work for Dan Cody, after all, didn't pay off since he lost the inheritance. So instead, Gatsby turned to crime after the war to quickly gain a ton of money. Especially since Gatsby finally achieves his great wealth through dubious means, the novel further undermines the classic image of someone working hard and honestly to go from rags to riches.

If you're addressing this prompt or a similar one, make sure to focus on the darker aspects of the American Dream, including the dark conclusion to the novel and Daisy and Tom's protection from any real consequences . (This would also allow you to considering morality, and how morally bankrupt the characters are.)

#6: What is the current state of the American Dream?

This is a more outward-looking prompt, that allows you to consider current events today to either be generally optimistic (the American dream is alive and well) or pessimistic (it's as dead as it is in The Great Gatsby).

You have dozens of potential current events to use as evidence for either argument, but consider especially immigration and immigration reform, mass incarceration, income inequality, education, and health care in America as good potential examples to use as you argue about the current state of the American Dream. Your writing will be especially powerful if you can point to some specific current events to support your argument.

What's Next?

In this post, we discussed how important money is to the novel's version of the American Dream. You can read even more about money and materialism in The Great Gatsby right here .

Want to indulge in a little materialism of your own? Take a look through these 15 must-have items for any Great Gatsby fan .

Get complete guides to Jay Gatsby , George Wilson and Myrtle Wilson to get even more background on the "dreamers" in the novel.

Like we discussed above, the green light is often seen as a stand-in for the idea of the American Dream. Read more about this crucial symbol here .

Need help getting to grips with other literary works? Take a spin through our analyses of The Crucible , The Cask of Amontillado , and " Do not go gentle into this good night " to see analysis in action. You might also find our explanations of point of view , rhetorical devices , imagery , and literary elements and devices helpful.

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Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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American Dream Essay: Structure, Outline, Sample, and Topics

11 December 2023

last updated

The American Dream is a recurring controversial topic in modern society. Individuals have developed different arguments to deconstruct what is the American Dream essay in the context of day-to-day life. In the academic setting, learners that engage in this discourse hold the weight of the proper expression of their arguments. A structured essay is analyzed with a focus on the introduction, main body, and conclusion of the five-paragraph essay. The process of topic selection, outline development, and structured writing is exemplified using an essay titled, “The Promise of the American Dream.” Recommendations for narrow scoped topics for exploring the concept are provided as a starting point for students.

In contemporary discourse, there is much controversy over the meaning of the American Dream. Basically, people hold different positions on multiple aspects of the concept in their essays and research papers. During the schooling years, it is important to acquire knowledge. Also, young minds benefit significantly from reflecting on the influence of their recently acquired knowledge on their position regarding controversial topics. Upon completing the reflection essay process, the expression of one’s newly defined position is the next step. An essay on the American Dream is presented to introduce the readers to the basic principles behind the concept. Moreover, the structure of a five-paragraph essay is explored with the support of an outline and a sample essay.

American Dream essay

What Is the American Dream Essay?

1. general description.

The American Dream is a widely known concept, but there is no definition that can be identified as a correct, comprehensive, and precise. Basically, freedom and opportunity are the most critical aspects of the essay on the American Dream. In this case, freedoms are essential to the idea of achieving goals. It because these freedoms provide an individual with the space to live freely without any oppression from their peers or the government. Moreover, equal access to opportunity allows each individual to pursue happiness and prosperity regardless of the social class, gender, race, and other social or cultural factors that stratify society. Therefore, this concept may be defined as a set of beliefs that explain the experience of life that many people are expected to have in an ideal situation, where their freedoms are protected, and no opportunity barriers exist.

2. Unique Experiences

People are born into families that provide them with a unique starting point for their pursuit of desired goals. For example, the financial capability, level of education, and cultural beliefs of an individual’s parents define the foundation on which a person begins to achieve desired goals. As a result, all people may be pursuing the same ideas when writing essays. In turn, it is not a level playing field because some individuals may find themselves in better circumstances than others. Furthermore, it is differentiated at a personal level because individuals with relatively similar starting points may have distinct outcomes. Based on this perspective, it is highly unlikely that any two individuals can attest to going through identical experiences when writing an essay.

3. Belief Systems

Besides the circumstances of the starting points, an individual’s belief system plays a significant role in their strategy of achieving desired goals. For instance, happiness and prosperity are broad terms that have contrasting meanings for individuals because there is no standardized scale for measuring happiness or prosperity. Moreover, one person may consider owning a car and house to be a sign of prosperity. In contrast, another person may believe that providing his or her children with a college education to be prosperity. Hence, these beliefs are imposed on desires goals, which results in variations in the meaning of the concept for each individual to be covered in an essay. In turn, desires goals affected to a large extent by an individual’s beliefs regarding the things that make them happy or prosperous.

Topic Selection for American Dream Essays

1. challenges of topic selection.

The American Dream is a concept that people can examine from a variety of perspectives, which makes the selection of an essay topic for an American Dream paper quite challenging. During the selection of an essay topic, it is essential to remember that no point of view is more superior or correct than another. In this case, the weight of the claim proposed in the American Dream argumentative essay is dependent on the writer’s ability to explain a position logically and convincingly. Moreover, in the presentation of the argument in the essay, it is important to adequately consider competing counterarguments that may arise in the audience’s minds when writing essays. In turn, the failure to evaluate counterarguments critically may undercut the authority of the author, especially when writing for an academic audience.

2. Solution

Equally important, writers should select a topic that has a link with their personal experiences. For instance, an argument concerning the essay about the American Dream gains a sense of authenticity when writers discuss an issue that resonates with their beliefs. It is essential because some passion is embedded in the essay. In this case, as a starting point for identifying the essay topic, writers may identify a “main concept” under review, for example, equal opportunity. Based on the main concept, writers can think through their life experiences and single out events that they consider invaluable in the position taken concerning the main concept (see the example of a simple brainstorming template). Finally, writers should settle on the essay topic that is specific and can be argued out entirely within the constraints of the essay requirements.

3. Example of a Simple Brainstorming Template

  • State the main concept.
  • How has it affected you?
  • How has it affected other people in your life?
  • Do you think the events mentioned above are in line with the American Dream?
  • Specify the issue.
  • Describe the ideal situation.
  • Can the situation be improved?

American Dream Essay Outline

Introduction (approximately 10% of the word count).

  • It is the first statement in the introductory paragraph.
  • The statement should capture the attention of the reader, for example, a unique fact about the topic.

2. Overview of the Topic

  • It comprises of two or more sentences.
  • The statements should contain adequate detail for the reader to understand the thesis statement.

3. Thesis Statement

  • It is a single statement that appears at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • The statement provides an answer to the essay prompt in the form of a single argument, which summarises the main evidence or rationale presented in the main body.

Main Body (Approximately 80% of the Word Count)

The creation of paragraphs in this section is based on the separation of ideas to ensure that each paragraph presents one original idea. In this case, each paragraph in this section must follow the sandwich rule, which dictates the organization of paragraph elements:

  • Topic sentence – States the main idea for that paragraph.
  • Evidence – Provides the information that is crucial to the paragraph’s idea.
  • Evaluation of evidence – Explains the relevance of the evidence and offers an interpretation of the evidence.
  • Transition statement – Summarises the paragraph and links it to the thesis statement or the next paragraph.

Conclusion (Approximately 10% of the Word Count)

1. Restating the Main Argument

  • The first statement in the paragraph should repeat the main argument presented in the thesis statement.
  • It should not contain the same words as the thesis statement, but keywords can be reused.
  • Provide a detailed overview of the main points of the essay logically.
  • Demonstrate the value of the main points in answering the essay prompt.

Five-Paragraph American Dream Essay Outline Sample

Introduction/Paragraph 1

Hook: Besides the differences in the American populations, they are similar because they pursue the same dream.

Overview of the topic: Outline some of the differences in the American population.

Thesis statement: Creating equal opportunities allows individuals to achieve upward mobility.

Paragraph 2 :

Topic sentence: Breaking down social mobility and its quantification.

Evidence: Definition and measures of social mobility.

Evaluation of evidence: Illustrate how upward social mobility is achieved while referring to the measures.

Transition statement: Introduces the need for self-improvement for social mobility to occur.

Paragraph 3 :

Topic sentence: Opportunity is a requirement for social mobility.

Evidence: The role of education in equipping an individual to utilize opportunities.

Evaluation of evidence: Demonstrate the link between education, access to jobs, and the ability to improve an individual’s quality of life.

Transition statement: Recognise that there are socially constructed limitations on the accessibility of opportunities.

Paragraph 4 :

Topic sentence: Discriminative practices affect an individual’s access to opportunities for social mobility.

Evidence: Identify some forms of discrimination and explain the occurrence of discriminative practices.

Evaluation of evidence: Describe the value of government and organization’s role in managing discriminative practices using policies that uphold equality.

Transition statement: Stress the centrality of equality in the argument for opportunity access and upward mobility.

Conclusion/Paragraph 5 :

Restating the main argument: Emphasise the importance of equality in securing opportunities for upward mobility and the attainment of the American Dream.

Summary: Allude to the measures of social mobility, the interaction between discriminative practices and opportunities, and the relief provided by policies on equality.

Sample of Five-Paragraph American Dream Essay

Topic: The Promise of the American Dream

Introduction

Although we are different, we share a single dream. In this case, the American population is composed of people of different genders, races, education levels, religions, and disability statuses. Nonetheless, each American is entitled to the opportunity to make themselves better regardless of the underlying differences. Thus, the American Dream thesis statement is that it is founded on the promise of equal opportunity for upward social mobility.

Social Mobility

Social mobility is a multidimensional concept. It can be assessed using a variety of measures that attempt to quantify the change occurring in an individual’s life. For example, the ability of an individual to move along the social hierarchy may be described as social mobility. In turn, there are different measures of social mobility. However, each one is focused on a specific aspect of average Americans’ livelihood:

  • health status – the susceptibility of an individual to diseases,
  • education – an individual’s highest level of education,
  • homeownership – the capability of an individual to acquire permanent housing.

Upward social mobility implies that an individual can improve their position in the social hierarchy through improving their performance on any of the measures of social mobility. Therefore, upward social mobility is the desired outcome of a successful pursuit of desired goals because it suggests some form of self-improvement.

Opportunity

The opportunity for upward mobility is vital in pursuing the desired goals. Basically, access to opportunity is facilitated by some factors, for example, access to quality education. In this case, an individual that has attended school and acquired the necessary skills has a higher likelihood of securing a job. If individuals acquire jobs, it becomes easier to secure health insurance, buy homes, and improve the quality of life for their families. Moreover, individuals can only attain what they want if they are provided access to basic education, which prepares them to maximize any opportunities. However, it is difficult for an average individual to pursue opportunities without the government’s efforts to increase the ease of access to basic needs.

Equality Policies

Many barriers affect an average American’s ability to access positive opportunities, and it manifests in the form of discriminative practices in society. In this case, discrimination in society may occur based on a variety of issues, for example, gender, disability, religion, and race. Basically, personal biases create ideological differences regarding superiority in the social hierarchy. It pushes individuals to deny others access to opportunities and the necessary skills to exploit those opportunities. Moreover, state and organizational policies against discrimination are created and enforced to maintain equality among Americans. These laws serve to eliminate the barriers that exist between hardworking people and the American Dream. Consequently, equality among individuals ensures that all individuals can take advantage of opportunities regardless of their gender, disability status, religion, race, and other social differences that tend to create boundaries between social groups.

Equality is crucial in the pursuit of the American Dream because it provides each individual with the opportunity to move up the social hierarchy. In this case, people can access upward social mobility by using various measures, which quantify an individual’s quality of life. Moreover, opportunities may exist, but individuals need to be assisted in developing themselves to a level where they can utilize the available opportunities. Hence, equality policies are useful in curtailing the power of discriminative practices in reinforcing social mobility barriers.

American Dream Essay Topics

  • The origin of the American Dream.
  • Intergenerational differences in the definition of the American Dream.
  • The American Dream in contemporary music.
  • Does society still believe in the American Dream?
  • Defining the American Dream through the racial lens.
  • Individualism and the American Dream.
  • The influence of unrestricted surveillance on the American Dream.
  • Health care policies and the American Dream.
  • The impacts of globalization on the American Dream.
  • The rise of right-wing populism and the future of the American Dream.

Summing up on the American Dream Essay

The capacity of a person to participate in the discourse on the controversial essay topic nurtured through the continuous practice of structured essay writing. Basically, the concept may be approached from a different perspective, depending on the individual’s beliefs and personal experiences. Nonetheless, the written presentation of these points of view is achieved through the use of structured essays. The five-paragraph American Dream essay examined in this paper is a useful tool for the expression of any argument on the topic.

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What Is the American Dream?

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what is the american dream to you essay

The American dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society in which upward mobility is possible for everyone.

The American dream is believed to be achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.

Key Takeaways

  • The term "American dream" was coined in a best-selling book in 1931 titled Epic of America.  
  • James Truslow Adams described it as "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement."
  • The American dream was aided by a number of factors that gave the United States a competitive advantage over other countries.
  • Homeownership and education are often seen as paths to achieving the American dream.
  • Though the definition of the American Dream has changed to mean different things to different generations, it's undoubtedly part of the American ethos, and likely always will be.

Investopedia / Alex Dos Diaz

The term was coined by writer and historian James Truslow Adams in his best-selling 1931 book Epic of America . He described it as "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement."

Adams went on to explain, "It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motorcars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

The idea of the American dream has much deeper roots. Its tenets can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which states: “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.”

In a society based on these principles, an individual can live life to its fullest as they define it. America also grew mostly as a nation of immigrants who created a nation where becoming an American—and passing that citizenship to your children—didn't require being the child of an American.

The American Dream now costs $3,455,305 —that's the estimated lifetime cost of common milestones including marriage, two children, homes, health care, cars, and education.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the American Dream

Achieving the American dream requires political and economic freedom, as well as rules of law and private property rights . Without them, individuals cannot make the choices that will permit them to attain success, nor can they have confidence that their achievements will not be taken away from them through arbitrary force.

The American dream promises freedom and equality. It offers the freedom to make both the large and small decisions that affect one’s life, the freedom to aspire to bigger and better things and the possibility of achieving them, the freedom to accumulate wealth, the opportunity to lead a dignified life, and the freedom to live in accordance with one’s values—even if those values are not widely held or accepted.

The books of post-Civil War writer Horatio Alger, in which impoverished but hardworking teenage boys rise to success through pluck, determination, and good fortune , came to personify realizing the Dream.

The American dream also offers the promise that the circumstances of someone's birth—including whether they were born American citizens or immigrants—do not completely determine their future.

Disadvantages

Terming it a "dream" also carries with it the notion that these ideals aren't necessarily what has played out in the lives of many actual Americans and those who hope to become Americans. The criticism that reality falls short of the American dream is at least as old as the idea itself. The spread of settlers into Native American lands, slavery, the limitation of the vote (originally) to white male landowners, and a long list of other injustices and challenges have undermined the realization of the dream for many who live in the United States.

As income inequality has increased substantially since the 1970s, the American dream has begun to seem less attainable for those who aren't already affluent or born into affluence. According to U.S. Census family income data, real family income began to grow much more among the top income group than among other segments of American society.

These realities, however, do not diminish the luster of the American dream as an ideal and a beacon to all nations.

The American dream promises freedom and equality.

The ideals of the American dream are motivating, including the freedom to be in charge of one's own life.

The reality of the American dream often falls short of the idea itself.

As income inequality has increased, the American dream has seemed less attainable.

Today, homeownership is frequently cited as an example of attaining the American dream. It is a symbol of financial success and independence, and it means the ability to control one’s own dwelling place instead of being subject to the whims of a landlord. Owning a business and being one’s own boss also represents the American dream fulfillment. In addition, access to education and healthcare have been cited as elements of the Dream.

Homeownership has steadily increased over time in the U.S., reflecting a key aspect of owning your own property as a sign of achieving the American Dream. For example, the homeownership rate at the end of the third quarter 2023 was 66%, same as the previous year. Entrepreneurship has always been important to the U.S. economy too. From 1995 to 2021, small businesses created 17.3 million net jobs alone.

Owning property, one's own business, and carving a life of one's own making is all part of the American dream, and the U.S. as a first-world country also offers the benefits of pursuing these passions, without having to worry about basics such as accessing good education and healthcare.

In her book Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890-1945 , sociologist Emily S. Rosenberg identifies five components of the American dream that have shown up in countries around the world. These include the following:

  • The belief that other nations should replicate America's development
  • Faith in a free market economy
  • Support for free trade agreements and foreign direct investment
  • Promotion of a free flow of information and culture
  • Acceptance of government protection of private enterprise

The American dream was aided by a number of factors that gave the United States a competitive advantage over other countries. For starters, it is relatively isolated geographically, compared to many other countries, and enjoys a temperate climate. It has a culturally diverse population that businesses use to foster innovation in a global landscape. Abundant natural resources—including oil, arable land, and long coastlines—generate food and income for the country and its residents.

“The American Dream” has always been about the prospect of success, but 100 years ago, the phrase meant the opposite of what it does now. The original “American Dream” was not a dream of individual wealth; it was a dream of equality, justice, and democracy for the nation used in the early 1900s The phrase was repurposed by each generation, until the Cold War, when it became an argument for a consumer capitalist version of democracy. Our ideas about the “American Dream” froze in the 1950s. Today, it doesn’t occur to anybody that it could mean anything else.

What Is the Original American Dream?

The phrase “American dream” was often used by Progressive-era reformers of the 1900s. Rather than exalting the pursuit of wealth, they sought to tame monopoly capitalism and protect workers and communities from robber barons. This concept was popularized by writer and historian James Truslow Adams in his best-selling 1931 book Epic of America.  He described it as "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement."

What Are Examples of the American Dream?

Examples of the American Dream include owning your own house, starting a family, and having a stable job or owning your own business.

Is the American Dream Still Achievable?

It's widely debated if the American Dream is still achievable, and what that achievement even entails. Indeed, today, many people wonder if they can keep up with rising housing costs and interest payments on loans needed to purchase things like homes and cars. Moreover, American's need to save for their own retirement and pay large out-of-pocket costs for healthcare and higher education, which can leave families saddled with high-interest debt that is hard to crawl back from.

What Is the American Dream in Dr. Martin Luther King's Speech?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech referenced the concept of the American dream by stating: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.'" Since the early 1960s, Dr. King had pondered and preached about how African Americans didn't get a chance to access the reality of the American dream because they were not truly equal to white men and women. Ultimately, Dr. King's "American dream" was equality.

How Has the American Dream Changed?

Over time, the American dream has shifted from an ethos of equality and solidarity to one of individualistic competition to succeed materialistically, fueled by consumption. In the 1990s and early 2000s, mortgage company Fannie Mae began promulgating the notion that buying a home was a cornerstone of the American Dream, and use the term prominently in ads selling home loans. This ideology led to the housing boom and ultimate bubble that popped ultimately, leading to the 2008-09 financial crisis.

The concept of the American dream is still one of the most uniquely "American" ideals—the ultimate idea that any individual should be able to pursue their dreams and build the life they want if they put in the hard work. This motivating drive influences the economy with entrepreneurship and individual ambition, infusing a romantic notion to anyone trying to be successful in the United States. Though the definition of the American Dream has changed to mean different things to different generations , it's undoubtedly part of the American ethos, and always will be.

James Truslow Adams. " The Epic of America ," Page 404. Taylor & Francis Group, 2017.

National Archives. " Declaration of Independence: A Transcription ."

Constitution Annotated. " Amdt14.S1.1.2 Citizenship Clause Doctrine ."

Encyclopedia Britannica. " Horatio Alger ."

United States Census Bureau. " Real Household Income at Selected Percentiles: 1967 - 2014 ."

U.S. Census Bureau. " Quarterly Residential Vacancies and Homeownership, Third Quarter 2023 ." Page 5.

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Frequently Asked Questions About Small Business 2023 ."

Emily S. Rosenberg. " Spreading the American Dream, American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890-1945 ." Chapter 1: Introduction to the American Dream. Hill & Wang, 2011.

Greene, Maxine. " On the American Dream: Equality, Ambiguity, and The Persistence of Rage ."  Curriculum Inquiry, vol. 13, no. 2, Summer 1983, pp. 179-193.

Sarah Churchwell. " Behold, America, The Entangled History of 'America First' and 'the American Dream' ." Hachette Book Group, 2018.

Ad Forum. " Fannie Mae - 'American Dream' ."

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Descriptive Essay – What is the American Dream?

The American dream has always been a staple of American culture. When people speak of it, they often refer back to the first half of the 20th century. Despite this, the American Dream is just as relevant to American culture today as it was in the last century. In this essay, we will explore the American dream and just what it is.

Firstly, it’s important to mention the American dream isn’t measured based on what an individual has. It has to be measured on its principles and how they apply to society. Although the American dream isn’t as distinct from the rest of the world as it once was, it still makes America what it is today.

The first part of the American dream is the dream of abundance. The dream of abundance is the ability of America to have a country filled with material goods. It remains the envy of the world today as a nation of producers and consumers. Few countries can match the sheer range of goods America has.

Next, we have the dream of a democracy of goods. This is the ability of everyone to purchase the goods of America, regardless of where they come from and who they are. It links back to the constitutional right of everyone to be free and equal. To fulfil this part of the constitution, the dream of a democracy of goods has to exist.

The dream of freedom of choice is the third part of the American dream and, again, ties back in to the American constitution. It allows people to fashion their own lifestyles using the goods on offer. People have the freedom to be who they want to be, and they aren’t restricted by the supply of goods on offer.

Finally, we have the dream of novelty. This represents a broadening of consumer choice. Fashions are allowed to change at will. It has a deep impact on American society. It means the current skills in demand are forever changing. The people don’t have to specialise in specific areas just to get along in life. They can be sure there will always be a demand for niche skills, which allows them more freedom of choice.

One can say the American dream has been born out of the constitution. It’s the constitution that allows it to exist. Without the rights enshrined in this document, the American dream wouldn’t be able to persevere.

Today, the American dream is still relevant. How people achieve this dream has changed, but the basic principles of it haven’t. The difference today is young people may go to college instead of an apprenticeship to go about their pursuit of the American dream.

In conclusion, the American dream is about both choice in the consumer industry and unlimited freedom of choice. These are principles Americans demand in everything they do. In many ways, the American dream has grown to symbolise more than just the consumer industry. The American dream is a symbol of a strong America as a whole.

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Is the American Dream Still Alive? Essay

Introduction, the american dream.

  • Factors affecting the achievement of the American Dream
  • Is the American Dream achievable for all people? Why or why not
  • The future of the America Dream

The debate about the American Dream has been common in recent years. Some people have held that the American dream is alive, whereas others have contested this argument asserting that the American Dream remains elusive.

There are various events which have taken place in the United States that have greatly impacted the aspect of the American Dream. Nonetheless, the future of the dream rests with the people and their resilience in pursuing it. This paper will elaborate on the concept of the American Dream in a modern day America.

The American Dream can be defined as a summation of national values entrenched in the culture of the United States. The dream emphasizes on the freedoms and rights of American citizens, and promises the prospect of prosperity and accomplishment. In early 1930s, James Truslow Adams defined the American Dream as something different from the conventional belief.

He argued that the dream should not be defined in terms of material things and good employment opportunities. Instead, the definition should be based on social grounds, whereby every individual has to exploit his or her potential maximally irrespective of his or her background (Davis-Laack,para 4).

In essence, the definition of the American Dream depends on an individual. Some people define it in respect to economic success; others in terms of education; while others define the term in relation to equality in social justice. It is true that as the American society keeps changing, so does the definition of the American Dream.

During times of economic hardship, people define the dream in respect to the economy; in times of civil strive, as the case during the civil rights movement, it was defined in terms of social justice and equality. Everyone coming to the United States holds a unique definition of the American Dream (Davis-Laack,para 5).

Factors affecting the achievement of the “American Dream”

In the pursuit of the American Dream, there are various factors which come in the way of individuals concerned. Race and ethnicity are among the various factors that affect the pursuit of the American Dream.

In this regard, the minority groups in the United States are often on the receiving end when pursuing the American Dream. For instance, when the economic recession hit the U.S., most of those who were affected were Latinos and African Americans. This is because a huge percentage of those who lost their jobs were from these minority groups (Hernandez,para 5).

Another aspect affecting the achievement of the dream is the economic environment. In this case, most individuals hope to land a job opportunity to make a living. In addition, to have achieved the American Dream, individuals struggle to have a home of their own. Therefore, people measure their achievement in respect to having secured a decent job and being able to own a home (Hernandez, para 11; Davis-Laack, para 5).

Apart from the economic and race factors, there is another factor which affects achievement of the American Dream. This includes equal treatment of people irrespective of their nationality, race, ethnicity and financial position. In his famous speech, Martin Luther King Jr. elaborated on the need to treat individuals based on the content of their character as opposed to the color of their skin.

He outlined social injustices as a major impediment towards the realization of the American Dream among the African Americans. Martin Luther King longed for a society where everyone will be treated equally and social justice upheld among all racial groups (King, Jr., paras 13; 17).

Is the “American Dream” achievable for all people? Why or why not

In the modern American society, it can be observed that the American Dream has remained elusive to many Americans. This is because many people in the United States have found it difficult to realize the dream. The immigrant population in America is the most affected. This is because they have found it difficult to realize the American Dream.

This is despite the fact that it was the main attracting factor that made them leave their home countries. The American society is viewed as one in which democratic tenets are the main pillars. In this case, America is depicted as a society which offers an opportunity to individuals to express themselves and enjoy the necessary freedoms and rights as human beings. America is also seen as a society that is tolerant to differences and one that embraces diversity (lam, para 20).

The immigrants had a hard time coming to the United States in the recent past. Things turned from bad to worse following the September 11 th terrorist attacks. The immigrant population in the United States has been subjected to unfair treatment, all under the guise of national security (lam, para 3).

Essentially, the American society often shifts blame to the immigrant population when things go haywire. Following the economic crisis that rocked the U.S., immigrants were blamed for having been the cause. In addition, in the war against terrorism, the immigrants are often used as a scapegoat and blamed for terrorist activities (lam, para 5).

In most instances, the immigrants are denied their rights and freedoms under the pretense of facilitating national security. The adoption of the U.S.A. Patriot Act has made it official to arrest immigrants without warrants and rubberstamped the subsequent detention of suspects for undesignated period (lam, para 6).

The government security agencies conduct unchecked surveillance over the immigrant population. Immigrants of Arab origin are more likely to bear the brand of the new security measures as they stand the risk of being arrested and deported on trivial grounds.

The advancement in technology has worsened the situation for the immigrant population. They are subjected to surveillance and wiretapping without their knowledge. A new program, Total Information Awareness, that is aimed at identifying terrorists is being developed by Pentagon and might be put to usage in the near future.

The right to privacy of the immigrants has been infringed as the government security agencies are protected by legislation to spy on the immigrants (lam, para 12). The immigrants also risk losing their jobs if they speak out their opinion. All these aspects make the achievement of the American Dream futile to some people.

Apart from the immigrant population, it can be noted that the minority groups in the United States find it difficult to achieve the American Dream. Racial profiling is a common trend among the police. In this regard, people of African American descent and other minority groups are arrested and imprisoned on trivial violations of the law. Essentially, there has been a bias in the manner in which the police conduct their arrests.

The future of the “America Dream”

The American Dream has remained an elusive aspect even though it is the driving engine that puts the United States in a leading position in the world. The American Dream lays emphasis on hard work which guarantees an individual some respect in the society and a good life.

The American Dream has been carried on for generations, and it still lives on. This means that the American Dream will continue to thrive in the future. As much as there are assertions that people have failed to realize the American Dream, it can be argued that this is what has made America to become a great nation.

For the American Dream to stay alive, it is necessary that people should come up with renewed energy to revamp the chase for the dream. Though it may appear as if the American Dream has remained elusive for long, it would continued to attract many people around the world.

The immigrants come to the U.S. with expectations, but they need to reenergize themselves in the pursuit of the American Dream. In order for the American Dream to continue being alive, people should not be afraid of coming to the U.S.; instead, they should come and aspire to realize the dream. This is what has kept America going. The future of the American Dream looks bright as many people from all over the world keep fighting for a chance to advance their lives, and the US is seen as the land of opportunities.

There is no doubt that the American Dream will continue to thrive now and even in the future. What is amazing about the American Dream is the fact that it keeps changing to adapt to the theme of the moment. As many more people immigrate to the United States, they hope to achieve the ever elusive dream. Nonetheless, this is what has kept people to come through challenging times.

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IvyPanda . (2024) 'Is the American Dream Still Alive'. 5 January.

IvyPanda . 2024. "Is the American Dream Still Alive?" January 5, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/is-the-american-dream-still-alive/.

1. IvyPanda . "Is the American Dream Still Alive?" January 5, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/is-the-american-dream-still-alive/.

Bibliography

IvyPanda . "Is the American Dream Still Alive?" January 5, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/is-the-american-dream-still-alive/.

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The American Dream Essay – Free Example, with Outline

Published by gudwriter on May 25, 2018 May 25, 2018

The American Dream Essay 

Write a historical analysis of the factors you see as leading to the development of the American dream as a concept. Try to show how the American dream grew out of specific aspects of American history and if you have any difficulties grasping the concept do my history homework for me is here to help out at an affordable price.

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Here is a sample essay that tries to answer the above question.

Essay on the American Dream Outline

Introduction

Thesis: The American dream grew out of specific aspects of the American history defined by the fore-founding fathers and America’s greatest leaders.

Paragraph 1:

In 1931, there was the first public definition of the phrase in the book the Epic of America authored by James Truslow.

  • In his description, he maintained that the Dream is characterized by a situation where every individual desires his or her life to be more vibrant and fuller.
  • There are five major pillars of the American dream including, the idea of a free market economy, embracing free trade agreements, embracing government protection of companies, and the idea that countries should replicate America’s development.

Paragraph 2:

Upon its inception, the American Dream only applied to white property owners.

  • As people began embracing the idea of equal rights to every American despite their color or origin, the laws were extended to include other individuals including non-property owners and women.
  • In the 20’s, the American Dream started acquiring a more profound definition characterized by obtaining material items.
  • In the new definition, there were elements of greed that finally led to woes in the stock market and the Great Depression.

Paragraph 3: 

Prominent American politicians have continuously defined the American Dream.

  • One of the greatest supporters of the Dream was President Lincoln who upon becoming president was quick to accord equal opportunities to slaves.
  • Another champion was President Wilson who maintained and pushed forward for accordance with voting rights for women leading to the 19 th Amendment in 1918.
  • President Johnson pushed forward for the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that led to an end of segregation in many Public schools.
  • President Obama promoted the accordance of equal rights to married people regardless of their sexual orientation giving a voice to the LGBT community

Paragraph 4:

President Roosevelt pushed for the idea that attainment of individual freedom requires maximum economic security and independence.

  • Roosevelt protected the US from different elements such as communism, socialism, and Nazism.
  • Through the Second Bill of Rights that the issue of domestic security was addressed and later pushed forward by Truman’s administration.
  • President Obama is the most recent president that redefined the American Dream to include affordable health care, employment opportunities, student loans and government aid.

Paragraph 5: 

In the American society of today, The American Dream may be taken to mean being able to exist in a free and equal society.

  • This is a society where an American is hesitant to impose their cultural values on others but always ready to join fellow Americans in pushing for their common socioeconomic interests.
  • They are concerned about protecting the right of another person and not on the cultural background of that individual.

American history has continuously shaped the American Dream. Although there has been a disagreement on what constitutes the Dream, the founding fathers and the American Presidents have made efforts to define the American Dream as equal opportunities for all.

What is the American Dream Essay Outline

Thesis:  The American Dream is based on the argument that every American citizen regardless of where they are born, their color, their religion, their sexual orientation or their political affiliations can become successful in life by taking risks and working hard and not by chance.

The first American to coin the term American Dream was James Truslow in his book the  Epic of America  in 1931.

  • Therein, he argues that the Dream is not merely a dream of high wages and cars but a dream of social order.
  • The American Dream is more of a charm of anticipated success as put across by a French Historian Alexis de Tocqueville.
  • The charm and the desire has attracted thousands of immigrants to the American shores and set a high bat for other nations across the world.

Ever since the inception of the American Dram, it has acted as a guideline to help Americans pursue their dreams, happiness and attain their maximum potential.

  • In essence, it is all about helping individuals shape their destiny.
  • The basic concept of the American Dream is that success is not guaranteed but rather offers Americans a chance to overcome obstacles to achieve their inner most desires.

Paragraph 3:

The Dream supports commitment to a common set of values and ideals.

  • It makes people acknowledge that a person can be American irrespective of their linguistic, cultural, religious, or ethnic background.
  • All a person has to do so as to be considered an American is to show true commitment to the political ideologies of equality, republicanism, and liberty.

The elusive and difficult nature of the American Dream makes many Americans skeptical on the prospect of achieving it.

  • In a statement made by George Carlin , he posited that it is referred to as the American Dream since one has to be asleep to believe it.
  • Although Carlin interpreted the concept of the American Dream in a loose sense, it is without a doubt that it offers salvation for those who achieve it or damnation for those who fail to achieve it.
  • Those who record success bear a legacy of positive influence while those that fail to achieve it bear a legacy of failure.

Paragraph 5:

The concept of the American Dream highlights the importance of optimism in succeeding in life but it offers no guarantees.

  • As many Americans succeed due to their hard work, optimism and determination, others fail despite having put a lot of hard work towards achieving their dreams.
  • The American Dream is crucial when it comes to fulfilling the American culture.
  • The American culture is one that embraces the concept of success and working towards full potential.
  • The beauty of the entire concept is that it guarantees nothing other than hope.
  • While many are damned towards the course of its fulfillment, many have walked down the path of success and fulfilled the American Dream.

The American Dream is not about a destination but rather a journey towards success. Every American or individual within the borders of the United States has equal opportunities and chances to work his or her way up towards fulfillment of the Dream. It is a guiding light that has helped many attain their dreams.

What is the American Dream Essay Sample 2, with Outline

The beauty of every nation lies with its people’s ability to maintain universal ideals and philosophies. In the United States, there is the standard American Dream concept that guides every right-minded citizen. It is an ideology or a set of ethos that govern American citizens as they go through life or as they build the nation. The American Dream is based on the argument that every American citizen, regardless of where they are born, their color, their religion, their sexual orientation, or their political affiliations, can become successful in life by taking risks and working hard and not by chance.

The first American to coin the term “American Dream” was James Truslow in 1931. Therein, he argues that the Dream is not merely a dream of an extremely expensive life and cars but a dream of social order where every American can become successful regardless of their origin or color. It is more of a charm of anticipated success as put across by a French Historian known as Alexis de Tocqueville. The charm and the desire have attracted thousands of immigrants to the United States and set a high bar for other nations across the world.

Ever since the inception of the concept, it has acted as a guideline to help Americans pursue their dreams and happiness, and attain their maximum potential. In essence, it is all about assisting individuals to shape their destiny. It is important to highlight the fact that the basic idea behind the American Dream concept is that success is not guaranteed but that each American has a chance to overcome obstacles and achieve their innermost desires.

The Dream supports commitment to a common set of values and ideals. It makes people acknowledge that a person can be American irrespective of their linguistic, cultural, religious, or ethnic background. All a person has to do so as to be considered an American is to show true commitment to the political ideologies of equality, republicanism, and liberty. It is through this commitment that one can play their part towards ensuring that the American society exists in a free atmosphere where individuals can pursue their businesses and life dreams without fearing being sanctioned by anybody. However, the manner in which a person pursues their life dreams should not infringe into the rights of another person.

The elusive and challenging nature of the American Dream makes many Americans skeptical about the prospect of achieving it. In a statement made by George Carlin, he posited that it is referred to as the American Dream since one has to be asleep to believe it. Although Carlin interpreted the concept in a loose sense, it is without a doubt that it offers salvation for those who achieve it or damnation for those who fail to realize it. Those who record success bear a legacy of positive influence while those that fail to realize it bear a legacy of failure.

The concept of the American Dream highlights the importance of optimism in succeeding in life, but it offers no guarantees. Therefore, even as many Americans succeed due to their hard work, confidence, and determination, others fail despite having put a lot of hard work towards achieving their dreams. It is without a doubt that the American Dream is crucial when it comes to fulfilling the American culture. The American culture is one that embraces the concept of success and working towards full potential. The beauty of the entire idea is that it guarantees nothing other than hope. Therefore, while many are damned towards the course of its fulfillment, many others have walked down the path of success and fulfilled the American Dream.

In summary, the American Dream is not about a destination but rather a journey towards success. Every American or individual within the borders of the United States have equal opportunities and chances to work his or her way up towards the fulfillment of the Dream. Although there is a lot of disagreement over the definition of the term, one thing is for sure: the American Dream is a guiding light that has helped many Americans realize their dreams.

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Watch CBS News

Royal insider says Princess Kate photo scandal shows "wheels are coming off" Kensington Palace PR

By Haley Ott

Updated on: March 12, 2024 / 2:37 PM EDT / CBS News

London —  Three days after an image of Catherine, the Princess of Wales, and her children was dropped by international photo agencies over photo manipulation, one veteran royal watcher told CBS News on Tuesday that Kensington Palace just keeps "digging themselves deeper into this mess, frankly, that they've created."

In January, it was announced that Kate, as the princess is commonly known, would be having a planned abdominal surgery and taking time to heal privately until Easter on March 31. After she wasn't seen in public for some time, speculation began to grow online about her whereabouts and well-being.

When the family photo of Kate and her three kids was published on her and her husband's social media pages on Sunday, the date of U.K. Mother's Day, it was immediately scrutinized, and people quickly noticed some clear signs that it had been altered.

Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother's Day. C 📸 The Prince of Wales, 2024 pic.twitter.com/6DywGBpLLQ — The Prince and Princess of Wales (@KensingtonRoyal) March 10, 2024

It appeared the image had been edited in a number of places, with one of Kate's hands unusually blurred and a zipper, a skirt and some tiles appearing misaligned. On Monday morning, Kate issued a brief apology for causing confusion and admitted to editing the image.

"The palace did always say, 'We're not going to give you any health updates on [Kate's] condition. She's going to have this operation, and she'll be back,'" CBS News contributor Tina Brown, author of the book "The Palace Papers," said Tuesday of the messaging from the palace. "She is indeed [entitled to privacy] and should have it. The problem is that when you released the picture, it is a health update. The picture is a health update saying, 'Look at me, look at us, I'm perfectly fine.' So, of course the world descends on that picture to dissect it."

Brown speculated that releasing the original unaltered image, which media outlets have requested and many online have called for, but Kensington Palace has declined to do, would most likely be impossible.

"I'm deeply skeptical that there was an 'original'" Brown said on "CBS Mornings." "I think it's a jigsaw of different pictures."

Brown said a short public appearance by Kate — even just a brief one via Zoom — would help calm public scrutiny.

"At the end of her life, Queen Elizabeth II , she had bone cancer. And in the last eight months of her life, she was on Zoom. She managed to come out onto that balcony and hold onto that stick. People didn't realize that she was actually wheelchair bound in the last six months of her life. The public never saw that, but that was what it was. So why they can't simply have Kate on a sort of, 50-second Zoom, saying, 'I'm here, I'm fine.' Bam. That's the end of it. The kind of hiding that they're doing, it seems excessive to me," Brown said. "I think all she needs to do is wave from a car window. That's really all she needs to do. And smile. And it's puzzling that that doesn't happen."

CBS News reached out to Buckingham Palace for confirmation of Queen's Elizabeth II's condition prior to her death in September 2022  and was told "any such details of her majesty Queen Elizabeth's health or condition were not confirmed or guided in any way." The palace has never said she had bone cancer or used a wheelchair, though it did say she had "mobility issues." Queen Elizabeth's death certificate says she died of "old age." A 2022 biography of Queen Elizabeth by Gyles Brandreth, reportedly a close friend of the late Queen's husband, Prince Phillip, said he had heard she had myeloma.

Brown said Kensington Palace was going through a staffing transition, and that could be the reason for some of the issues.

"It's possible that this was a transitional bad staffing situation, where no one is really properly paying attention, but clearly the public is going to look at a hand with no wedding ring and say, 'Where is it?'" Brown said. "I think that the wheels are coming off in terms of the sort of press situation there at the palace."

Brown added that, in today's world, a public relations problem cannot be handled by simply retreating from the public eye.

"This old idea, really, that you can completely disappear, it just doesn't work. It didn't work in [Princess] Diana's day," Brown said. "I do think [Kate] clearly feels ill and depleted, and she wants this time. But I also think, you know, there's been so much strain and stress on her. She's been trying to say, 'Can I just recover quietly and in peace?' just like Diana tried. And they won't let you do it."

  • British Royal Family
  • Prince William Duke of Cambridge
  • Catherine Princess of Wales

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Haley Ott is the CBS News Digital international reporter, based in the CBS News London bureau.

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The House passed a TikTok ban bill. But is the app really a national security threat?

Bobby Allyn

Bobby Allyn

what is the american dream to you essay

Devotees of TikTok gather at the Capitol in Washington, as the House passed a bill that would lead to a nationwide ban of the popular video app if its China-based owner doesn't sell. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

Devotees of TikTok gather at the Capitol in Washington, as the House passed a bill that would lead to a nationwide ban of the popular video app if its China-based owner doesn't sell.

The House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday giving TikTok two choices: find a buyer for the immensely popular video app, or face a nationwide ban in the U.S.

President Biden has indicated he would sign the law, but first it must clear the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. Several other anti-TikTok efforts in the Senate have stalled, and it is too soon to tell whether the House's legislation will meet a different fate.

Why the House voted to ban TikTok and what could come next

Why the House voted to ban TikTok and what could come next

Whatever happens with this measure, it marks the first time a chamber of Congress has passed a bill that could shut down a social media platform, a move that civil liberties advocates say tramples on the free speech rights of millions of American users.

TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance, views the House legislation as an existential threat but not a novel attack, since the social media app has fended off numerous other attempts to put it out of business.

So what is different this time?

Here's a breakdown of what you need to know.

What exactly does the House bill do?

The bill gives ByteDance six months to find a buyer for TikTok.

If the company cannot sell the app in that time, it will become illegal for app stores and web-hosting companies to offer TikTok, as long as it remains under the control of a "foreign adversary."

That, in turn, would force Apple and Google to remove TikTok from app stores. It would also require internet service providers to make TikTok inaccessible on internet browsers in the U.S.

New DOJ Filing: TikTok's Owner Is 'A Mouthpiece' Of Chinese Communist Party

New DOJ Filing: TikTok's Owner Is 'A Mouthpiece' Of Chinese Communist Party

There is no way to make TikTok disappear for the 170 million Americans who have already downloaded it. But removing TikTok from app stores would mean that users would not be able to download any further software updates. And experts say without the ability to update regularly, the app would become slow, glitchy, buggy and rife with other problems to the point where using it at all would be just about impossible.

In other words, TikTok would die a slow, gradual death, rather than a swift demise.

What will the House bill mean for TikTok users?

In the short term, users will likely not notice any changes. The app will work as it always does for the millions of Americans who enjoy it.

And even if the Senate passes a companion bill, and Biden signs it into law, there is a six-month deadline to sell, which could be prolonged by court challenges.

Trump's TikTok Deal: What Just Happened And Why Does It Matter?

Trump's TikTok Deal: What Just Happened And Why Does It Matter?

In the event that TikTok does become illegal in the U.S., it would be tricky to access the app, but there will be workarounds.

People could turn to virtual private networks, or VPNs, to shield their location and get past restrictions. The technique is popular in places like Russia and China, where governments have prohibited many popular internet apps and services.

Who could buy TikTok if ByteDance is forced to sell?

Very few companies.

As one of the most popular social media apps in the world, ByteDance would sell TikTok at a hefty price. TikTok is likely worth tens of billions of dollars, an amount only the biggest tech companies — like Google, Meta, Microsoft or Amazon — could afford.

Federal judge blocks Montana's TikTok ban before it takes effect

Federal judge blocks Montana's TikTok ban before it takes effect

But the prospect of TikTok being acquired by a Big Tech firm raises instant antitrust concerns, since the Biden administration has taken a tough stance against tech industry mergers that serve to inflate the size and influence of already massive companies.

What's more, TikTok's sale would require the approval of China, which has said it would strongly oppose the forced sale of its first-ever global sensation of an app.

As the Senate considers a companion bill, it is possible that lawmakers in Washington would use the House bill as leverage to try to force TikTok to find a non-Chinese buyer, but talks over selling the app have been going on without a resolution for years.

What is the case that TikTok poses a national security risk?

Many in Washington, including lawmakers from both parties and top intelligence officials, fear the Chinese government could use TikTok to spy on Americans, push pro-China propaganda, or use the service to interfere in U.S. elections.

To date, lawmakers have not offered any evidence of the Chinese Communist Party using TikTok as a weapon against American interests.

Some critics of the bill say it is misguided if the goal is keeping Americans' data out of the hands of the Chinese government.

"The same kind of data that are collected by TikTok can easily be obtained by anyone who wants them by data aggregators and data brokers," said Jameel Jaffer , executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

"The ban will be ineffective because China can access the same kind of information about Americans without TikTok," he said.

But have there been developments that have troubled officials in Washington?

ByteDance admitted in 2022 that former employees — but not government officials — had surveilled Americans on TikTok, including several journalists who were writing critical stories about the company.

And last year, a former ByteDance executive said in a court filing that the Chinese government has in the past been granted a "superuser" credential on TikTok, and that it was used to spy on Hong Kong protesters in 2018, something the company denies.

While neither incident shows that the Chinese government has used TikTok for espionage or disinformation campaigns on U.S. users, the developments have fueled a growing worry that Beijing could order that the app's algorithm be manipulated to shape what millions of American users see when they scroll.

What has TikTok said in response?

TikTok has long claimed it has never received an inquiry for Americans' data from Chinese authorities, saying it would deny any such request.

The company has also touted an initiative dubbed "Project Texas," saying that all U.S. user data has been transferred to servers controlled by Austin-based software company Oracle. TikTok also says Americans' data is now being monitored by third-party auditors in the U.S.

TikTok officials go on a public charm offensive amid a stalemate in Biden White House

TikTok officials go on a public charm offensive amid a stalemate in Biden White House

The plan, essentially a data firewall, was intended to ensure that Chinese officials cannot access Americans' personal information.

But under Chinese law, companies still have to turn over personal user data once it is sought by government officials.

This is why national security officials in Washington, who have been investigating TikTok's ties to Beijing for five years, have not approved the plan.

There is a consensus in the White House that any move TikTok takes short of complete divestiture from China is unacceptable.

If the House bill eventually becomes law, won't there be a legal challenge?

It is all but certain that TikTok will try to have a ban overturned in the courts.

Legal experts say shutting down a social media platform in the name of national security is something that can only be accomplished if the security threat is overwhelming.

Otherwise, it will likely be considered an infringement of the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans, if the government cannot show that the speech constraint is justified.

"Restricting Americans' right to access information or ideas on a media platform from abroad implicates the First Amendment. There's really no dispute about that," said Jaffer with the Knight First Amendment Institute

Previous attempts to shutter TikTok in the U.S. have not been successful.

Three separate federal district judges have blocked efforts to ban TikTok — two courts during the Trump administration, and one U.S. court more recently in Montana.

Judge Wendy Beetlestone found in 2020 that TikTok's national security threat is "phrased in the hypothetical."

In late 2023, judge Donald Molloy said that a crusade by officials in Montana to block TikTok within the state's borders had a "pervasive undertone of anti-Chinese sentiment."

Many constitutional scholars say banning TikTok requires clearing nearly insurmountable legal hurdles.

What evidence does the government have against TikTok?

If officials in Washington declassify national security information about TikTok, that could change the public's understanding of the app's threat.

Yet some lawmakers are already questioning the basis for targeting TikTok.

A handful of members of Congress who left a closed-door briefing about TikTok with top national security officials in the Biden administration a day before the House vote said officials did not back up the notion that TikTok is dangerous with any new information.

"Not a single thing we heard in today's classified briefing was specific to TikTok," Sara Jacobs, a Democratic from California told the Associated Press. "These are things that are happening on all social media platforms."

If the bill eventually becomes law and ends up in court, the government will have to demonstrate on what basis it is making a national security case against TikTok, Jaffer said.

"You can't restrict Americans' constitutional rights on the basis of secrets," he said.

Home — Essay Samples — Sociology — American Values — What the American Dream Means to Me

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what is the american dream to you essay

what is the american dream to you essay

Florida real estate agent says people need to make at least $120K/year to qualify for a home in the US — claims 'old American dream' is dead because of these 3 reasons. Do you agree?

M any Americans who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s watched their parents achieve the perfect middle-class life — complete with the white picket fenced home, car and children.

But one real estate agent says this dream feels out of reach for many of these now-grown adults today.

"I think most of us in America would define the middle class as somebody who can work a 40-hour-a-week career and can have the income to purchase the average home in America," Orlando-based real estate agent Freddie Smith told Fox News Digital in an interview.

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"If you are someone who bought a house before 2020 and you have it paid off or you have a 3% interest rate, you are not burdened by the housing costs like the 2024 adults are now,” Smith says, pointing to a “three-layered cake” that’s impacting many young Americans today — made up of housing, student debt and daycare.

Smith believes Americans now need to earn $120,000 a year to afford a typical middle-class life and purchase a home — here’s why.

Breaking down the layers

The real median household income in the U.S. is just $74,580, according to the latest Census Bureau data.

Smith says older Americans — especially those with grown children or who have paid off their debts — are more likely to manage a middle-class lifestyle on just $70,000 today and don’t understand why younger generations are struggling.

“‘These millennials are whining. These Gen Zers, just work harder,” Smith mimics.

In a November 2023 TikTok video , he explains that a $120,000 salary would cover your monthly mortgage payment, utilities, insurance, groceries, gas and phone plan — as well as one person’s student, auto and credit card debt and some other discretionary expenses.

Smith further notes a $120,000 salary might still not be enough to manage the costs of having kids, setting aside funds for your savings or Roth IRA or even just being able to have fun.

Here are the three “layers” he says are blocking many millennials and older Gen Zs from achieving a middle class lifestyle.

Read more: Generating 'passive income' through real estate is the biggest myth in investing — here’s how you can do it in as little as 5 minutes

Smith notes the average home in the U.S. now costs more than $400,000 — creating a significant wage-to-housing gap .

"Nowadays, what has moved the goalpost more than anything is the housing market," the real estate agent told Fox News Digital.

Higher home prices have, in turn, led more Americans to rent instead of building wealth through homeownership. However, a recent report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reveals half of all renters are “cost-burdened” — paying more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities.

Student debt

More Americans are questioning the value of a four-year degree, especially when it leaves them buried in student loans with a salary that doesn’t guarantee them a middle-class lifestyle.

More than 43 million Americans owe $1.73 trillion in student debt according to the Federal Reserve, and pay about $300 a month on average.

"The millennials, they're the pinched generation where college essentially stopped working for most,” Smith says. “The debt piled up, and the old American dream died, and we got left holding the bag.”

Millennials and older Gen Z adults are also more likely to be caring for young children at a time when the skyrocketing costs of child care are fuelling a major crisis across the U.S..

In fact, a stunning 67% of parents are spending 20% or more of their annual household income on child care, according to a recent survey from online child care marketplace Care.com.

With parents shelling out thousands of dollars for daycare — especially for multiple kids — Smith says, “when you add in somebody who's renting for $2,500, $2,000 for daycare, $1,000 for two college loans, just that alone, you need $100,000 as an income just for that.”

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

3 reasons why the American Dream might be dead

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