Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Major

English

Research Sponsor

Dr. Patrick Chura

First Reader

Dr. Heather Braun

Second Reader

Professor Robert Pope

Abstract

The American Dream’s outlines are pretty clear: find a good job, make enough money, raise a good family, love your neighbors and friends, and uphold American laws. In this essay, I am going to explore what happens when the dream’s goals are darkened, corrupted, and attempted to be found by unconventional means and shortcut through the lens of two novels written in the 20th century, at the height of the American Dream’s popularity: Requiem for a Dream and The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, at a time when a slew of immigrants were seeking better lives for themselves in America while Requiem for a Dream was published in 1978, at a time when the middle class was solidifying their own identity and first and second generation immigrants were trying to assimilate themselves into it. First, I will conduct a literary analysis of both novels to show how they are thematically connected to this illusory American Dream, and then I will give historical context for each novel to show how Jewish and black populations, both critiqued in each novel, were looked down upon in a society which was supposed to welcome them and make their dreams come true.

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