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Society today has become officially monetized. Most people today speak about the American Dream as the equal opportunity, pursuit of happiness, wealth, and power. The reality is that the American Dream is success and that pairs with self-fulfillment in a positive way. In today’s society, not everyone has the equal opportunity presented to them and the expectations behind the false idea of the American Dream can be highly overrated. “…the American dream is so well established—both as an expression and an idea—that no one feels the need to define it; however, no one seems to agree on exactly what it means.” (American Dreams) Moser/Watters dives deep into the stereotypical definition of the American Dream in all its falseness. Again, this one sided view of money, power, and even sex, are all illusions to a world that has been built upon pleasure. Moser/Watters dissect the history behind this false idea and define it as a mistake, established far too long ago when the Renaissance Europeans were searching for a route to the East Indies and accidentally stumbled upon a new continent, “Of course the reality was very different, and dreams changed, from the discovery of golden cities to the acquisition of land for farming. But two early elements were fixed—that America represented the possibility of prosperity and that whoever came here could make a new start.” As America became formed, many contradictions became an element to the debate over the American Dream as to what it consists of, who is entitled to it, and how much someone is really entitled to this idea. Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” exposed this naive way of thinking when it came to corporate America. Whitman describes those who made up America, essentially the middle class, and pictures a harmonious group who are going about their way happily in their respective jobs. The problem with this idea is that in today’s world, the people who make up America’s largest labor force are not all that happy and Whitman’s idea of the this is basically wishful thinking. America is actually stuck in more ways than one. “The economy is also getting stuck. Labor productivity growth, measured as growth in output per hour, has averaged 1.6 percent since 1973. Male earning power is flat lining… Capital is being hoarded rather than invested in the businesses of the future. U.S. corporations have almost 1.5 trillion sitting on their balance sheets, and many are busily buying up their own stock. But capital expenditure lags, hindering the economic recovery.” (Stuck) Reeves warns about the economic downturn America is heading for as well as the numerous political problems that have been teasing the instability of our nation. One other important factor that Reeves talks about is the unequal opportunity. Using the boys who grew up in Baltimore as an example, he shows how the false American Dream is realistically not built for everyone as an equal opportunity. Similar to Hughes, who underlined these contradictions between this equal opportunity ideal and the real reality of it. He wanted a “renewed commitment to the American dream,” and an actual delivery instead of false promises. (Let America Be America Again) This overly-idealistic American Dream has become a negative force in our society and is the sole reason why America is “Stuck.” Too many people are stuck in this alternate reality and have unrealistic expectations when it came to this venture for wealth and power. Jeff Daniels of HBO’s “The Newsroom” expressed a highly political perspective of his, similar to Reeves in “Stuck,” that marked the real problem with America and really, the quote-on-quote American Dream. He revealed why America was not the greatest country in the world with stone-cold facts and said that the real solution only starts when the people accept the fact that America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. The real American Dream is prevalent in “The Great Gatsby” in terms of Jay Gatsby himself. Throughout the story, the New York high society and West Egg/East Egg life were flaunted as luxurious with lavish lifestyles as well as endless displays of wealth and power. Probably the most important factor was Jay Gatsby’s American Dream. With this false reality already achieved, (Wealth and Power) Jay Gatsby is still alone inside and seeking something deeper, his true love Daisy. “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,” said Gatsby. “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.” Daisy put her arm through his abruptly, but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.” The symbolic green light that was the number one goal in Gatsby’s life had seem to lost meaning now that he has reached it but not fully got ahold of it. It is everything he wanted but still not enough and it is slowly killing him. What seemed to be a stereotypical perfect life, was really a nightmare and dream for something more, a pursuit to true happiness; self-fulfillment. In the end, what destroyed Gatsby wasn’t his pursuit of the real American Dream (Daisy) but his hanging on to his false identity, life, money, power, American Dream. His downfall was his denial to accept facts and reluctance to do what was right for both him and Daisy. Instead, he was caught up in unrealistic expectations and the negative forces working against those pursuing the real American Dream. Similarly enough, Lily’s life can be summarized in the same fashion as Gatsby’s. Lily was also part of the New York High Society in a time where social climbing was very relevant as well as sought after. Wealthy and power hungry people were the only ones who were “important” in the era but more than that, Lily found herself stuck in this dangerous loop and found the real American Dream a little too late right before her death. “Slowly the thought of the word faded, and sleep began to enfold her. She struggled to keep awake on account of the baby…” (The House of Mirth) Bourke-White’s image of “At the Time of the Louisville Flood,” captures the whole point of this argument. America has become far too materialistic and because of this very reason, America is stuck in this false thinking of equal opportunity giving rise to great wealth, power, and “happiness.” The real American Dream can only be succeeded through positive forces and this idea of the American Way and “The World’s Highest Standard of Living” is just a myth that does not define and will never define, real achievement.

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