The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and its Illustrations of the American Dream

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The American dream can be defined as the promise of living in America with opportunities for all, regardless of social class, and according to their ability and effort (Schnell, 2010). Proponents of the American dream believe that there is equal opportunity for all in the American society to achieve success. Success is not pegged on social status, race, or creed, but rather on an individual’s own efforts. The definition of the American dream has unique interpretations to different people. The most common meaning is that of a life of abundance and prosperity, characterized by economic rewards that enable one to live a middle class life of comfort. Here, success is measured by material possessions such as beautiful homes, cars, a high…show more content…
Douglass’ narrative clearly illustrates how these components played a part in enabling him to realize his ultimate dream of freedom. Individualism The American dream is closely tied with individualism, where there is emphasis on personal achievements as well as individual rights. In American society, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and the freedom to express such opinions. With this right, each individual is expected to push himself towards success on the basis of his/her own personal efforts. The American dream is also based on the belief that anyone who has enough talent, will, drive, and merit can overcome insurmountable obstacles to achieve whatever they set their minds to. However, not everyone can achieve success as it is based on an individual’s abilities, initiative, and willingness to take risks. Frederick Douglass demonstrates this trait of individualism throughout his life, with his willingness to take risks, and to overcome obstacles placed in his way, so as to acquire whatever he sought. This trait is what sets him apart from other slaves, and is best illustrated through his efforts to learn how to read and write. Though his master forbade him to learn and took away his only teacher, Frederick was able to overcome this obstacle and find other teachers, by befriending young white boys who knew how to read and write. Frederick’s individualism seems to have been a result

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