American Dream


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“…that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability and achievement.”
–James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America (1931).
In this quote, Adams offers a definition of the “American dream,” the idea that success, prosperity, and happiness are open to any American, regardless of race, origin, or gender, through dedication and hard work. It is an idea that has played a central role in how America and Americans have defined and thought about themselves since the thirteen colonies declared their independence in 1776.
In this final paper you will explore the nature and meaning of this important theme as it appears in American literature. To this end, you should examine how the theme of the American dream is treated in William Dean Howells’s The Rise of Silas Lapham and at least two other works that we have read during semester. The goal of this paper is for you to explore the idea of the American dream and to analyze and compare the different ways in which it has been addressed in different works. I do not wish you to rely on secondary works or writings of modern literary critics in prepare your essay, but rather to develop your own analysis and to support your discussion and conclusions with direct references to the texts we have read over the course of the semester. Your essay should be approximately 1700-2000 words (double-spaced).
Please use specific examples from the book as well as from the sources and quote them correctly.
2 other works you can choose from:
Will, "The words that remade america"
Whitman,:"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”
Whitman, “Passage to India”
Vendler, “Emily Dickinson and the Sublime”
Twain, “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” and “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”
Harte, “The Luck of Roaring Camp”
Jewett, “A White Heron”
Freeman, “A New England Nun"
Chopin, “Désirée’s Baby” & “The Storm”
Harris, "The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story"
Chesnutt, "The Goophered Grapevine"
Hopkins, “A Dash for Liberty”
Oskison, “The Problem of Old Harjo”
Cahan, “The Imported Bridegroom”
James, “Daisy Miller: A Study”
Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”
Garland, “Under the Lion’s Paw”
London “To Build a Fire”
Robinson, “Miniver Cheevy”
Frost, “Birches,” “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” & “Design”
W. C. Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow”
Pound, “In a Station of the Metro” & “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter”
Moore, "Poetry"
Hughes, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” & “The Weary Blues”
Stevens, “Disillusionment at Ten O’Clock,” “Anecdote of a Jar,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” & “The Idea of Order at Key West”
Eliot, “The Waste Land”
Karr, “How to Read ‘The Waste Land’
Cather, “The Sculptor’s Funeral”
Wharton, “Roman Fever”
Stein, from “Tender Buttons”
Fitzgerald, “Winter Dreams”
Hemingway, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”
Hurston, “The Gilded Six-Bits”
Faulkner, “Barn Burning”
Wright, “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”
Williams, “Streetcar Named Desire”
Welty, “Petrified Man”
O’Connor, “Good Country People”
Malumud “The Magic Barrel”
Ellison, from The Invisible Man
Cheever, “The Swimmer”
Updike, “Separating”
Pynchon, “Entropy”
Carver, “Cathedral”
Roethke, “I Knew a Woman”
Bishop, “The Armadillo” & “In the Waiting Room”
R. Lowell, “Skunk Hour” & “For the Union Dead”
Plath, “Lady Lazarus” & “Daddy”
Ginsberg, “Howl” & “A Supermarket in California”
Dickey, “Falling”
Pinsky, “The Figured Wheel”
Haas, “Meditations at Lagunitas”
Collins, “Forgetfulness”
Glück, “The Drowned Children”
Dove, “Missing,” “Rosa,” & Fox Trot Fridays”
Morrison, “Recitatif”
Please do NOT right down the instructions for this assignment in the introduction, I want a good introduction for this paper. Make sure to quote references from the poems or books used.
This paper should focus solely on William Dean Howells’s The Rise of Silas Lapham and at least two other works chosen by the writer from the list above.



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