Ms. Al Hasan

The American Dream From the Points of View of Three American Writers:
      Emerson, Douglass, and Wilder
      Name: Ghadeer Al Hasan                                       ID No. : 8070572

      Upon the American Nation’s coming of age as an independent land in the early nineteenth century, the Americans found themselves in an inevitably challenging situation: as the offspring of a young nation with no cultural heritage or historical legacy, the Americans had to shoulder the responsibility of shaping their own distinctive identity, which determines their views towards themselves and their nation. A new set of beliefs were established, contributing to the formation of the American mindset, which has viewed America as the land of “opportunity”, freedom, and “unlimited promise.”[i] Although the term “the American Dream” was coined by the historian James Truslow Adams in his book, The Epic of America, published in 1931, its tenets date back to the period during the American Revolution. The phrase's meaning has evolved over the course of the American history. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, and Thornton Wilder are three foremost American writers whose works reflect the different seminal attitudes and aspirations of their ages towards “the American Dream.” However, by studying and analyzing the works of these writers, one can always sense an urgent tendency to celebrate the idealism of “the American Dream,” namely the glorification of the individual. In the light of this assumption, this essay presents a chronological analysis of this argument from the points of view of these three American writers.
      Emerson, as a Transcendentalist, believes that the essence of “the American Dream” lies in the refinement of the human experience. In his most celebrated essay “Self-Reliance”, Emerson stresses the importance of transcending the common human experience, which is based on “conformity” to “dead institutions”; he denounces “imitation” as “suicide” (1062),...