College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Liberal Studies


American dream, the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Emerson’s Self-Reliance, Gatsby


The aim of this paper is to examine how selected works in the American literary canon contribute to defining, constructing, and sustaining the basic principles of the American dream, in which each individual has the unlimited opportunities to achieve personal freedom and prosperity. Through the examination and analysis of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance,” Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby the paper will demonstrate how these works are sacred texts because they are rooted in the themes of self-actualization and individualism, and because they provide examples of all the possibilities the American dream offers when given the opportunity to pursue it. By weaving and tracing the values that constitute the American dream through their works the paper will demonstrate why their pieces are still relevant in the modern American culture.