English Literature : American Dream and the Lost Generation

American Dream and the Lost Generation

Key information:

American dream is credit with a dominating vision of freedom, equality and expectation of material success. It promises individuals that they are relieved from hierarchical social structure and ancient prejudice and free to pursue their life goals through perseverance and free choice. Altogther, the American dream promises that  a “better, richer, and happier life” is approachable for everyone. In brief, American dream is grounded in a hopeful vision of discovery, and pursuit of happiness in propagating the idea that individual’s hard labor will equal to their rewards. It can be measured as the starting point of individualism. At the core, the conception of an overinflated ambition is accused. In a sense, it builds a cohesive American experience but it has also been blamed for overinflated expectations of success.

Vocabulary review:

l  cohesive 凝聚性

l  overinflated 過度誇張

key words: class differences, class emancipation

Note: The idea is initiated by James Truslow Adamsin 1931 and is noted in the Declaration of Independence which states that all men essentially have certain inalienable Rights including” life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The product of distorted American dream: The Lost Generation


l   Civil War 1861-1865

l   WWI 1914-1918

l   After war: The lost generation 1920s

l   WWII: post modernism


l   spiritually alienated

l   emotionally barren

Key information:

l   During WWI, the titled lost generation establishes their reputations in the 1920s. In general, they are haunted by a sense of betray toward the grandiose patriotic war manifesto and turn out to be cynical and views the traditional or inherited values as timeout values. In facing the emptiness about the destructive world, people’s beliefs are severely shattered and troubled with sense of disillusionment.Ultimately, they characterize their sorrowful and unfulfilled life experience by living with purposeless, aimless activities, such as heavy drinking and haunting games.


Related works 相關作品:

All of these works reject the time-honored concept of” the melting pot”

Prominent works:

Ø          The snows of Kilimanjaro 1936 , The Sun Also rise~ Hemingway hero

Ø          Faulkner, Barn Burning 1938

Ø          The Sound and The Fury 1929 ~ Civil War and the decline of the South

Ø          The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald~ easy money, decayed social and moral values and material pleasures.奢侈蔓延的年代

Ø            The Death of a Salesman ~ blind faith and domestic concerns 失敗者的心酸

Ø          The Raisin in The Sun ~ racial prejudice and discrimination made the ambitious dream deferred.

Similarity: decadent, unfulfilled life.


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撰稿人:簡碧儀,1985年出生,畢業於清大英文系文學組研究所,陸陸續續在「自由時報」、「東森新聞官網」「TVBS官網」、「姊妹淘官網」以本名或筆名共上稿數十篇文章,在自由時報和TVBS上稿文都曾經名列排行榜Top 1 。沒有看過她的文章嗎?google看看,你一定找的到她的文章!使用過的筆名包括「黑豆玄米小姐」「Forever 158.5 」「野澤碧 」等等。首本療癒系寫實中篇小說《推理愛》獲得知名眼科醫生「黃宥嘉醫生」掛名推薦!


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