HomeEnglish LessonsEnglish GrammarTestsFunLinksKids' Corner

Lesson 23

The American Dream

Lessons >>> Lesson 23

Few terms are defined in so many different ways or bandied about more loosely than "the American Dream." To some people, the term is a joke, an object of satire, derision, or contempt, and a made-in-America label for a congeries of chauvinistic cliches mouthed by jingoists. To others, it merely signifies self-determined success, wealth, the "good life" of modish clothes, sports cars, and hot tubs - in a word, the latest thing touted by Madison Avenue. And to still others, less scornful or frivolous, it denotes a unique set of social and moral ideals.

The phrase "the American Dream" came into the American vocabulary starting in 1867 when writer, Horatio Alger came out with his book "Ragged Dick." It was a rags-to-riches tale of a poor orphan boy in New York City who saves his pennies, works hard and eventually becomes rich. It became the model that through honesty, hard work and strong determination, the American Dream was available to anyone willing to make the journey.

The origin of the American dream stems from the departure in government and economics from the models of the Old World. This allowed unprecedented freedom, especially the possibility of dramatic upward social mobility.

Many early Americans prospectors headed west of the Rocky Mountains to buy acres of cheap land in hopes of finding deposits of gold. The American dream was a driving factor not only in the Gold Rush of the mid to late 1800s, but also in the waves of immigration throughout that century and the following.

Impoverished western Europeans escaping the Irish potato famines in Ireland, the Highland clearances in Scotland and the aftermath of Napoleon in the rest of Europe came to America to escape a poor quality of life at home. They wanted to embrace the promise of financial security and constitutional freedom they had heard existed so widely in the United States.

Nearing the twentieth century, major industrialist personalities became the new model of the American dream, many beginning lives in the humblest of conditions but later controlling enormous corporations and fortunes. Perhaps most notables here were the great American capitalists Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.

The key difference here from the Old World societal structure is that the antiquated monarchies of Western Europe and their post-feudal economies actively oppressed the peasant class. They also required high levels of taxation, which crippled development. People who were consciously free of these constraints, however, built America.

There was a hope for egalitarianism. Martin Luther King invoked the American Dream in what is perhaps his most famous speech:

"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream." (I have a dream)

In the 20th century, the American dream had its challenges. The Depression caused widespread hardship during the Twenties and Thirties, and was almost a reverse of the dream for those directly affected. Racial instability did not disappear, and in some parts of the country racial violence was almost commonplace.

Since the end of World War II, young American families have sought to live in relative bourgeois comfort in the suburbs that they built up. The possibility of great wealth has remained more of a distant dream in the recent century, while the widely held goal of home ownership, financial security, and civil and international stability have come to take the place of the common American dream in modern times.

The basic capitalistic virtues of hard work, intelligence and independence had been seen as the means to achieving this 'final' incarnation of the American dream.

A skeptical view would say that the American dream was built on aggressive colonialism. The Civil War to promote Liberty could be seen to be undermined by the earlier displacement, dispossession and slaughter of the original inhabitants of the land: this amounts to genocide on a par with that which many immigrants came to these shores to escape.

Other critics point out the falsity of the implied view that everyone can succeed and become rich if they only try hard enough. This view, it is said, penalizes people who are poor and already penalized, and does not take into account individual levels of ability and potential.

It is true that for most people the American Dream is a pursuit of material prosperity. But actually, to find out what your American Dream is you should find what you love. When you find what you love and fit it into your life (or better yet, fit your life around it), then you have found your personal dream, your own piece of the American Dream.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_dream & Internet

Vocabulary
  1. to bandy - подмятам, подхвърлям, разпространявам (слухове, клюки), to have o.'s name bandied about влизам в устата на хората, ставам обект на клюки
  2. derision - присмиване, осмиване; присмех
  3. contempt - презрение (for)
  4. congeries - (pl без изменение) маса, куп, камара
  5. chauvinistic - шовинизъм
  6. to mouth - говоря бомбастично с гримаси; прен. ораторствувам
  7. jingoist - шовинист, патриотар
  8. to signify - изразявам (сьгласие и пр.); давам да се разбeре (that че)
  9. modish - моден, модерен
  10. tub - разг. вана, баня
  11. to tout - предлагам настойчиво, натрапвам (стоки, услуги и пр.)
  12. frivolous - лекомислен; повърхностен
  13. scornful - презрителен; надменен; пренебрежителен
  14. to denote - означавам, обозначавам; показвам, свидетелствувам за, издавам
  15. to come out - 1) излизам; 2) излизам наяве, появявам се (в печата, обществото и пр.), дебютирам (на сцената и пр.)
  16. rags-to-riches (adj) - използваме го, когато трябва да опишем историята на някой, който е бил беден, а по-късно е станал богат
  17. orphan - сирак, сираче
  18. eventually - накрая, в края на краищата; рано или късно
  19. to make/(under)take a journey - правя/предприемам пътуване, пътувам
  20. to stem - водя началото си, произхождам, произлизам
  21. departure - отстъпление, отклонение; нарушение (from)
  22. upward - насочен/отиващ нагоре
  23. prospector - мин. човек, който търси/проучва; златотърсач
  24. to head - тръгвам за, вървя към (for); насочвам (се), упътвам (се); направлявам, държа курс/посока към (for)
  25. driving factor - движещ фактор
  26. Gold Rush = Gold Fever - златна треска
  27. to impoverish - лишавам от средства; обеднявам, осиромашавам
  28. to escape - 1. избягвам (from, out of); 2. изплъзвам се/измъквам се/спасявам се/отървавам се/освобождавам се (от); избягвам
  29. famine - глад (бедствие)
  30. clearance - изсичане, разчистване (на гора)
  31. aftermath - последици, резултат
  32. to embrace - прен. използувам, възползувам се от (случай)
  33. man of humble condition - беден човек или човек със скромно обществено положение
  34. fortune - състояние, богатство; имот
  35. notable - забележителен; бележит. виден, изтъкнат, прочут
  36. antiquated - 1. остарял; 2. старомоден; из лязъл от употреба
  37. to oppress - потискам (и пол.), угнетявам
  38. peasant - 1. селянин, селяк; 2. attr селски
  39. crippled - накърнен, уронен
  40. consciously - съзнателно, обмислено, преднамерено
  41. constraint - ограничение
  42. egalitarianism - политическо и социално равенство
  43. to invoke - призовавам, зова, обръщам се към
  44. speech - реч
  45. to wallow - въргалям се, търкалям се
  46. valley - долина
  47. despair - отчаяние, безнадеждност
  48. hardship - трудност, затруднение: изпитание; беда, нужда, лишение; страдание
  49. reverse - обратен; противоположен (to)
  50. commonplace - обикновен, всекидневен, банален
  51. to seek - опитвам се, мъча се (с inf )
  52. suburb - 1. предградие; 2. pl околности на град
  53. virtues - 1. добродетел, целомъдрие; 2. добро качество/свойство, достоинство
  54. means - pl с гл. в sing средство, начин, способ; средства
  55. incarnation - въплъщение, инкарнация
  56. to undermine - 1. подкопавам, подравям; 2. прен. подкопавам, разклащам основите на; подбивам, подронвам (репутация, авторитет и пр.)
  57. displacement - преместване, отместване; изместване
  58. dispossession - 1. лишаване от собственост/право на владение; 2. изселване
  59. slaughter - клане
  60. on a par with - равен/на равна нога с; който може да се сравнява с
  61. to point out - 1) изтъквам, подчертавам; 2) посочвам
  62. falsity - 1. лъжливост, невярност; 2. лицемерие, притворство; 3. измама, лъжа
  63. to imply - 1. съдържам; предполагам; означавам, знача; 2. загатвам, подмятам, инсинуирам
  64. to penalize - 1. наказвам; правя/обявявам за наказуем; 2. налагам наказание на (и сп.)
  65. to take account of, to take into account - вземам под внимание, държа сметка за
  66. to pursuit - преследване (и на цел); гонене, гонитба; стремеж (кьм щастие и пр.)

 Immigrant or emigrant


Answer these questions:  

  • What is your definition of the American Dream?
  • Do you think that people all over the world share the basic desires of the “American Dream"?
  • Do you feel that you have unlimited possibilities and open doors to meet your goals?

Test it out!

Fill the gaps in the sentences, using the words and phrases below:

egalitarianism, make the journey, crippled, derision or contempt, oppressed, penalizes, self-determined, prospectors, impoverished, bandied about, undermined, constraints, Gold Rush, scornful or frivolous, stems, falsity, rags-to-riches, incarnation

1. Few terms are defined in so many different ways or more loosely than "the American Dream."
2. To some people, the term is a joke, an object of satire, , and a made-in-America label for a congeries of chauvinistic cliches mouthed by jingoists.
3. To others, it merely signifies success, wealth, the "good life" of modish clothes, sports cars, and hot tubs - in a word, the latest thing touted by Madison Avenue.
4. And to still others, less , it denotes a unique set of social and moral ideals.
5. The phrase "the American Dream" came into the American vocabulary starting in 1867 when writer, Horatio Alger came out with his book "Ragged Dick." It was a tale of a poor orphan boy in New York City who saves his pennies, works hard and eventually becomes rich.
6. It became the model that through honesty, hard work and strong determination, the American Dream was available to anyone willing to .
7. The origin of the American dream from the departure in government and economics from the models of the Old World.
8. Many early American headed west of the Rocky Mountains to buy acres of cheap land in hopes of finding deposits of gold.
9. The American dream was a driving factor not only in the of the mid to late 1800s, but also in the waves of immigration throughout that century and the following.
10. western Europeans escaping the Irish potato famines in Ireland, the Highland clearances in Scotland and the aftermath of Napoleon in the rest of Europe came to America to escape a poor quality of life at home.
11. Nearing the twentieth century, major industrialist personalities became the new model of the American dream, many beginning lives in the but later controlling enormous corporations and fortunes.
12. The key difference here from the Old World societal structure is that the antiquated monarchies of Western Europe and their post-feudal economies actively the peasant class.
13. They also required high levels of taxation, which development.
14. People who were consciously free of these , however, built America.
15. There was a hope for . Martin Luther King invoked the American Dream in what is perhaps his most famous speech.
16. The basic capitalistic virtues of hard work, intelligence and independence had been seen as the means to achieving this 'final' of the American dream.
17. A skeptical view would say that the American dream was built on aggressive colonialism. The Civil War to promote Liberty could be seen to be by the earlier displacement, dispossession and slaughter of the original inhabitants of the land: this amounts to genocide on a par with that which many immigrants came to these shores to escape.
18. Other critics point out the of the implied view that everyone can succeed and become rich if they only try hard enough.
19. This view, it is said, people who are poor and already penalized, and does not take into account individual levels of ability and potential.




The Statue of Liberty

       The Statue of Liberty (“Liberty Enlightening the World”) is a 225-ton, steel-reinforced copper female figure, 152 ft in height, facing the ocean from Liberty Island1 in New York Harbor. The right hand holds aloft a torch, and the left hand carries a tablet upon which is inscribed: “July IV MDCCLXXVI.”

The statue was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi of Alsace as a gift to the United States from the people of France to memorialize the alliance of the two countries in the American Revolution and their abiding friendship. Her American name is the ‘Statue of Liberty’ and she adorns not only New York’s harbor, but also Swan Ally in the Seine and Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.

The original ‘life size’ cast of the Statue of Liberty stands amongst the beautiful flower gardens and fountains of Luxembourg Gardens [which is home to the French Senate] in Paris. On her pedestal she’s approximately 15 feet high and absolutely ‘magnifique’ among the flowers and trees. This was architect/sculptor Bartholdi’s miniature mold for the American Statue of Liberty.

Another, yet larger Statue of Liberty is approximately 35 feet in height on her base, and stands upon a tiny island called ‘Swan Ally’ [Allee des Cygnes] in the Seine near the Grenelle Bridge. This exact Statue of Liberty replica monument was offered to the French by the Americans as a remembrance to commemorate the Centennial of the French Revolution.

1Called Bedloe's Island prior to 1956.

Source:

1. to enlighten - 1. просвещавам; 2. осведомявам, осветлявам (on, upon)
2. steel - стомана
3. to reinforce - подсилвам
4. foot - фут (мярка за дьлжина = 30,48 см)
5. harbor - пристанище
6. aloft - високо, нагоре, нависоко
7. tablet - плочица, дъсчица; табелка; възпоменателна плоч(к)а;
8. abiding - постоянен, траен
9. to adorn - украсявам; крася (и прен.)
10. swan - лебед
11. mould - модел, образец
12. centennial - стогодишен
13. to commemorate - празнувам, отбелязвам (годишнина)

Basic Facts about the Statue of Liberty
  • The Statue of Liberty, the most famous symbolic statue of a woman, was modeled after Marie Bartholdi, the sculptor's mother. The Statue of Liberty is tremendous! Her nose is four and a half feet long, and her mouth is three feet wide. Her waist measures 35 feet around.
  • The arm holding the torch measures 46 feet (14 meters); the index finger, 8 feet (2.4 meters); the nose, nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters).
  • The statue is covered in 300 sheets of coin-thin copper. They were hammered into different shapes and riveted together.
  • The statue sways 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) in the wind; the torch sways 5 inches (12.7 centimeters).
  • Visitors climb 354 steps (22 stories) to look out from 25 windows in the crown.
  • Seven rays in the crown represent the Earth's seven seas.
  • Engineer Gustave Eiffel, who would later design the Eiffel Tower in Paris, designed Liberty's "spine." Inside the statue four huge iron columns support a metal framework that holds the thin copper skin.
  • The statue-151 feet, 1 inch (46 meters, 2.5 centimeters) tall-was the tallest structure in the U.S. at that time.
  • On a plaque at the base of the statue is engraved the following sonnet, written by the 19th-century American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887):
    The New Colossus
    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame. With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Links:
More from this site:



Site Map | Advertising | About This Project
 
© Copyright 2002 - 2014. Author and design M. Boyanova.