American Dream in Literature

Topics: Richard Cory

The American dream, is the longest lasting goal in American history, but is this timeless ambition fulfilling? Throughout history, millions of immigrants flooded America with the dream of economic prosperity, with only a handful ever reaching that goal. A large amount of writers and poets each economically successful have written their experiences into their works to be interpreted by future generations. The character Walter from Raisin in the Sun, Gatsby from The Great Gatsby, and Richard Cory from Richard Cory each show how the American Dream affects us.

The stories shows that the American dream of success is attainable, yet not fulfilling as individuals are never truly satisfied with their achievements.

Walter is a father of two, who is faces many dilemmas during the play such as his wife being pregnant, but his largest dilemma is getting ahold of the ten thousand dollar check. Walter’s mom receives a ten thousand check from insurance, and Walter wants to use that money to invest in a drug store, so he can possibly become rich and allow his family to live a better life.

This goal is Walter’s American dream, because he can’t live with only buying a new house with ten thousand dollars, he wants to quit his job and live like the rich whites. But, according to Gastby from The Great Gastby, wealth brings does not make you happy. Gatsby had enormous wealth, his house “it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden.

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It was Gatsby’s mansion.”

Yet, despite achieving Walter’s goal of financial success, Gatsby wasn’t content, he demanded to be seen as the social elite. While on the other end of the spectrum, Richard Cory had it all, and wasn’t happy. Richard Cory was living Gatsby’s dream, “he was rich-yes, richer than a king— And admirably schooled in every grace…” Richard Cory was living Gatsby’s dream, he was looked highly upon in society and was rich beyond one’s wildest dreams, but he was still not happy. He was not content with his wealth and social status, the American Dream was not satisfying. This lack of satisfaction caused Richard Cory to “one calm summer night, Went home and put a bullet through his head.” Richard Cory is symbolic of what achieving the American Dream brings, it creates the sense of a lack of purpose, which can be seen in the poem because it never stated he had any ambitions in life.

Richard Cory, Jay Gatsby, and Walter each living a separate part of the American Dream, with lack of contentment tying them together. Both Gatsby and Walter could have lived a happy life if they were content, but their ambitions for more, dragged them down into endless cycle of wanting more. On the other end of the finish line, Richard Cory had it all, but he did not find any purpose in life with the goal being reached. It can be seen that if the characters were only content with what they had, they could have been happy. These stories only confirm that the American Dream can be achieved, but can not bring fulfillment. This is because we are never satisfied with what we achieved, only contentment will bring fulfillment these characters sought.

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American Dream in Literature. (2021, Dec 21). Retrieved from

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