Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Judith Lewin

Second Advisor

Claire Bracken




american, dream, century, forces, identity


In the Twentieth Century the concept of the American Dream has helped create the identity of the United States. The American Dream, defined as “a better, richer, and happier life,” is a social construct, which also contributes to one’s identity. I trace capitalism and changing values as forces that threaten and remake this ideal. By looking at a play and film, written by and populated by men, I examine the effects of these threatening forces on the goals of the characters. As I analyze middle class aspirations in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949) and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987), I demonstrate how the definition of the Dream has transformed since its original state and has been sculpted by society in different decades of the Twentieth Century. I also argue how these two critiques of American culture portray the masculine role as society expects it to be fulfilled and how such expectations are linked to the objectives of the American Dream in the respective time period.