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Do Tennessee Williams and F Scott Fitzgerald celebrate or condemn the American Way?

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Do Tennessee Williams and F Scott Fitzgerald celebrate or condemn the American Way? According to the Americans, the American Way is an ideal way of living. It is free of the persecution and prejudice that the Pilgrim Fathers fled from in the seventeenth century. They escaped to America absconding religious persecution. They were Puritans, and so believed themselves to be "God's chosen people". This became a self-fulfilling prophecy, which lead them to aspire to build an ideal society, which would become an aspiration to other nations. The American Way meant that members of the American society would live in a meritocracy, were people work hard, competitively, honestly and in a spirit of Christian decency. " 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 tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door." This is the poem imprinted on the Statue of Liberty in America. It approves of the American Way and believes that it will undoubtedly lead to success. In the eighteenth century, a sense of self-reliance was introduced. Benjamin Franklin's famous quote "early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise" inspired members of the society to work hard in the industrialised society in order to achieve successes. ...read more.


Although Tennessee Williams lived amidst troubling historical events, his plays do not directly portray the times. The setting for The Glass Menagerie is the post-Depression Thirties, and A Street Car Named Desire is set in the war-torn years of the forties; both times were periods of radical and turbulent events, but they are not developed in the plays. People are products of their past as revealed by Blanche being destroyed by the events in her life. Her youthful husband has an affair with an older gentleman. Because of her aristocratic history, Blanche tells her husband that she is absolutely disgusted with his behaviour. When she does so, he commits suicide. He leaves her with lonely with feelings of guilt. To ease the pain of the past, she slips from one sexual affair to another and begins to drink heavily. Her actions cause her to lose her occupation as an English teacher, her place in Laurel society, and her self-respect. With no other place to turn, she seeks sanctuary with her sister Stella and her husband Stanley. When they discover out the truth of her past, they reject her too, and she slips into insanity. Blanche fights to save her Old Southern roots and the family mansion, but loses them both. ...read more.


The American Way tolerates the meritocracy system were people achieve at their own merit. This means, however, that people will disregard others that will be obstructing them from achieving what they want. This is shown in A Street Car, when Stanley propels Blanche out of his way by sending her to an asylum in order to re-gain control over his family and friends. The difference between the two worlds that Stanley, Tom and Daisy and Blanche and Gatsby represent, is that the Old World perceives richness in the spirit of the human, whereas the New World identifies richness through money and property owned. In The Great Gatsby, victory is measured through commercial and Idealistic success, which is based on wealth and presented by Tom and Daisy, however shown to be a failure between Martyl and her husband despite their hard working. Whereas Jay Gatsby relies on self-improvement, which relates back to the quote: " Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy and wise." As he wakes up at 6am, saves his money and practices public speaking. He also studies electricity, which are needed inventions and claims that cheap Cow Boy magazines are "an extraordinary gift for hope". Both Tennessee Williams and F Scott Fitzgerald condemn the new world and celebrate the old. But they both show us that the New World always is a success over the old. Sarah Khalil Monday 25 November 2003 ...read more.

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