Essays About The American Dream: 7 Interesting Topics to Discuss

American Dream has main themes: hard work and equal opportunity create a better life over time. Discover essays about the American dream topics in this article.

The concept of the American dream includes many ideas, including those outlined in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Professional writers, high school students, and many people have worked to outline the meaning of the American dream in essays and research papers.

Many United States citizens operate under the assumption that working hard can elevate their financial and social status. Many people in American society grapple with whether the idea of the American dream is an attainable reality for those born into less-fortunate circumstances. While some argue that social mobility—meaning changes in social class based on effort and hard work—are at the core of the American dream, others argue that those who are born into a preferable situation may have an easier time achieving the dream, disputing the notion of an equal playing field.

Here, we’ll discuss 7 interesting essay topics on the American Dream that you can use in your next essay.

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1. Is The American Dream Still Alive?

A topic of much debate, it can be tough to figure out whether the American Dream continues to exist as it did half a century ago. Many people question whether the American Dream is a reality for that outside of the American family depicted in 1950s television and print ads—largely white, upper-middle-class families.

Suppose you decide to write about whether the American Dream still exists. In that case, you’ll want to consider the inflation of the cost of a college education that has made it impossible for many students to work and pay their way through college, resulting in debt that feels impossible upon graduation. Rather than a fresh start in life, many graduates face low-paying jobs that make it difficult to handle daily living costs while also paying back high-interest student loans.

As you write about why the American Dream is currently a struggle for many, include success stories that show how the American Dream is still being achieved by many. You may want to touch on how the traditional idea of the American dream is changing with time. You can do this by highlighting studies that explain how successful Americans today feel regarding the American Dream and how the tenants of a successful life are changing for many people. 

2. The American Dream Is Still Alive: These People Are Proof

Want to show your audience that the American Dream is still alive and well? Highlighting the stories of people who have achieved success in their lives can be a great way to convey proof of the existence of the American Dream to others. 

As you write your essay, it’s important to share how the definition of the American dream has changed over time. Today, many people feel that the American dream has more to do with a sense of belonging and community than making a certain amount of money or living in a certain type of home. Research shows that across the United States of America, people generally shared a positive feeling about the possibility of achieving the American dream. Most felt that they either had achieved the dream or were on their way to achieving it.

As you write your essay on proof of the existence of the American Dream, be sure to highlight people from different backgrounds, sharing the different challenges they’ve faced throughout their lives. You’ll want to show how Americans achieve success despite challenges and different starting points and how they’ve enjoyed their success (despite having different definitions of what it means to achieve the American Dream).

3. The American Dream Defined

In years past, the definition of the American Dream was clear: rising above circumstances, developing a successful financial portfolio, owning a home, and having kids in a successful marriage. Today, however, many people define the American Dream differently. In an essay on defining the American dream, it’s important to consider viewpoints from different cultures and how a person’s socioeconomic starting point affects their view of what it means to have “made it” in America. 

When defining the American Dream, you may want to touch on how social and economic issues in America have made the American Dream a more realistic possibility for some groups than others. Social programs, discrimination, and civil rights issues have made it tougher for some minority groups to climb above the standing they were born into, making it harder to achieve financial stability and other aspects of the American dream.

In your essay about defining the American Dream, you may also want to touch on the importance of being able to take risks. This can be easier for people whose parents and other relatives can provide a safety net. People who are dependent on their savings to support new business ventures may find it harder to take risks, making it more difficult to achieve the American dream. 

When defining the American Dream, be sure to touch on how the Dream can be different for different people and how one person’s financial stability might not be the same as someone else’s. If possible, include anecdotal quotes and stories to help your reader connect to the way you’re defining the American Dream.

4. The American Dream In Literature

Many pieces of classic American literature work to show what the American Dream means to various groups of people. In writing an essay about the American Dream in literature, you’ll want to discuss several different classic works, including The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. 

When discussing the theme of the American Dream in literature, there are a few different approaches that you can take to show your readers how the American Dream has changed in novels over time. You may want to work through a timeline showing how the American Dream has changed or talk about how real-life social and economic issues have been reflected in the way that authors discuss the American Dream. 

When writing about the American Dream, you may also want to touch on how each author’s social standing affected their view of the American Dream and whether the achievement of the Dream was feasible at the time. Authors born into difficult circumstances may have a different view of the American Dream than authors born into a more affluent lifestyle. 

5. What Does The American Dream Look Like For Immigrants?

Growing student debt, a lack of high-paying jobs, and increasing living costs have made it difficult for people to keep their faith in the American dream. Economic research shows that many first- and second-generation Americans experience economic mobility upward in immigrant families, but this mobility eventually stalls in future generations. According to some researchers, t’s possible that first- and second-generation immigrants feel more of a push to be a success story in an attempt to erase the negative connotations that some American citizens have with the word “immigrant.”

People who are new to the United States face different challenges than people who have lived in the country for their entire lives. Writing an essay about how the American Dream is different for people born in other countries can enlighten many of your readers about how the Dream is different for people in different circumstances.

6. How Has The American Dream Changed Over Time?

Essays About the American Dream: How has the American dream changed over time?
In the eyes of many, the American dream is often associated with homeownership

The American Dream has not remained stagnant over the years, and what people once believed to be the American Dream is something that many Americans no longer want. Writing an essay about how the American dream has changed over time can be an interesting way to explore how the ideals of America have changed over the years. 

The wealth gap has changed over time in the United States, making it increasingly difficult for people born into a lower socioeconomic status to build their wealth and achieve the American dream. Research shows that more than 40% of people born into the lowest part of the income ladder in the United States stay there as adults. Talking about how economic challenges in the United States have made it difficult for many people to go through college or start businesses can be a jumping-off point to discussing changes in the American Dream. 

For many people, the ideals associated with the American dream—marriage, family, kids, a job that provides financial stability—are no longer as desirable. Some people don’t desire to get married, and it’s more acceptable in society to stay single. Some people have no desire to have kids, and some people prefer to work in the gig economy rather than going to a 9-5 job every day. Discussing these changes in American society and how they relate to changes in the American Dream can help your reader see how the Dream has changed over time.

In the eyes of many, the American dream is often associated with homeownership. Skyrocketing mortgage rates in the U.S. make it hard for many people to afford a home, relegating them to rent or living with family members. If you decide to talk about the difficulties of becoming a homeowner in today’s economy, do your research on the latest mortgage news. Many people who once qualified for mortgages struggle to get approved due to skyrocketing interest rates. Including recent financial news can help help your readers connect recent events with the reality of the American Dream.

The Final Word On Essays About The American Dream

Opinions on the American dream differ, and when writing about the topic, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. While some people have experienced at least part of the American dream, others have struggled despite hard work due to an unequal playing field from the start.

FAQs About Essays About The American Dream

What literary works discuss the American dream?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is well-known for their takes on the American dream.

What should be considered when writing an essay on the American dream’s existence?

When writing a persuasive or argumentive essay on the American dream, it’s important to consider social mobility, interest rates, homeownership rates, the cost of education, and other factors that contribute to creating a lucrative financial life.

If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics.