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Chapter 01
The Socio-historical and Theoretical Background
The Socio-Historical Background
The definition of the American Dream has changed over the sequence of history and religions, economics and social changes and the American literature as well. This chapter will investigate the root of American Dream in light of the Freudian psychoanalysis literary approach. From the spiritual dream which incarnated in justice and freedom to the materialistic dream which presented by wealth and material success.

“Many will say that the American Dream defies definition; that is too
vague or too diverse; that it means too many different things to too
many different people; that too many different authors have
approached it from far too many different directions. What is more, the
Dream presents a moving target; a constantly evolving national vision,
it goes far back and deep into in our national psyche. An odd
combination of Renaissance humanism and Enlightenment
individualism, the Dream came to America with first European settlers.

It was then fashioned into something uniquely American.”
The Origin of the American Dream
According to Anup Dey in his article: “American Dream and Arthur Miller: A Study of The Price” the concept of the American dream dates very far back. It originated in the 1600’s with the early immigrants from various European countries who came to the “new” continent in search of something better (315). The Puritans or the new settlers from various continents had seen America as the dream land where they had the chance for the economic opportunity, religious freedom and social or political justice. St. John de Crèvecoeur said about America in his Letters from an American Farmer (1782): “the asylum of freedom,…the craddle of future nations, and the refuge of future European”. He added also “It is to them a dream”. Running from “Inequality, abuse and racism however destroyed their hopes” , and it certainly was “a refuge from political and religious persecution”. Thus,”striving for wealth became a way for Americans to ease their consciences” because they believed that ”the possession of material things might be some kind of an indication. . . . Since hard work was associated with God, and since hard work often resulted in wealth, it was not long before these two things became associated”.

After the World War ? and the Declaration of Independence (1776); it was obviously that Americans were searching for more opportunities to pursuit happiness by trade and industrialization expansions. As James Adams Truslow claimed in his book the Epic of America (1931) that “American Dream of a better, richer, and happier life for all our citizens for every rank, which is the greatest contribution we’ve made to the thought and welfare of the world”. Meanwhile, the salesmanship, in this period, was flourishing; according to Walter Friedman in his book Birth of a Salesman: the Transformation of Selling in America that what differed in the growth of capitalism in America versus the other countries, was the extreme effort the Americans put into standardizing salesmanship”. He added also: “if someone had true talents in salesmanship, that person had a chance of making it big”, and “on the other hand, it did not require much capital to get started”. Additionally, the 1920’s salesman was described in Arthur Miller’s book Salesman in Beijing as:

“…a vital force in building the trade and commercial network
of the country. The salesman needed little or no education, but
an engaging personality and a faith in the inevitability of next
week’s upswing. Every salesman knew some other man who
had hit it big, opened his own business, and died respected and
rich. The myth of the salesman exemplified the open ranks of a
society where practically overnight a man could leap to the head
of the line”.
This shows the importance of the salesmanship in the 19th economy, but it wasn’t for long as the U.S. Department of State’s “Outline of the U.S. Economy” stated that as the career of the salesman continued into the mid 20th century, things began to change. The profession that previously did not require any education, slowly changed into a job where the salesman needed to be technologically advanced in order to succeed.

The Decline of the American Dream: the Great Depression
“The fundamental discrepancy between the American Dream and the American reality was marked by the level of poverty. The concept of the American Dream had been replaced by an idea of nightmare.”
The American Dream was ingrained in the Americans’ materialistic life due to the ”rugged individualism” which is based on the competition. This aspect has deeply psychological effects on the society, especially during the Great Depression; which “…lasting between 1929- 1939, made a serious dent into people’s belief in the attainability of the American Dream. The reality of the stock market crash in 1929, created chaos as well as many changes in the American society’s structure”. Therefore, this latter was the reason behind the corruption of the American dream, and on other hand was the greed of the Americans who followed their dreams in a blind faith. As H. W. Brands stated in his book The Age of Gold: the California Gold Rush and the New American Dream that the American Dream “…became a prominent part of the American psyche” .

Literary Background
Lionel Trilling’s claims in “Freud and Literature” (1947): ” Freudianism is the only systematic account of the human mind which in point of subtlety and complexity, of interest and tragic power, deserves to stand besides the chaotic mass of psychological insights which literature has accumulated through the centuries.”
2.1 Freud’s Psychoanalysis theory
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory of personality developed in the early 20th century by Sigmund Freud. According to him this theory is divided into two aspects: the structural model of personality and the topographical model.

The Structural Model of Personality
It consists on the tripartite of the mind: the Id, the Ego and the Superego. Christopher Heffner explains that the interactions between the tripartite are supposed to develop through different stages in our lives. In the Ego and the Id (1923), Freud describes the id as the primitive part of personality. Furthermore, it is the impulsive and unconscious part of the psyche which responds directly and immediately to the “passions” (Freud 15). The id operates through the pleasure principle, meaning it looks for pleasure and avoids pain (15). It includes the inherited parts and contains two major instincts: the sexual instincts (Eros), motivating pleasure activities; and the death instinct, motivating aggressive behavior (30).
Besides to the id, we have the ego; Freud wrote that: “…the ego is the part of id that has been modified by the direct influence of the external world…” (15). Also, it has many functions first of all as the “reality principle”(15) which pacifies both id’s desire and ego’s desire; “…it represents “reason” and “common sense” (15). Freud metaphorized the role of the ego as: “…a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse…” (15). The ego also is a dutiful to the superego: “…as the child was once under a compulsion to obey its parents, so the ego submits to the categorical imperative of its superego” (38). The ego needs the decision making to contemplate social rules and norms when deciding how to behave with the help of the “process of thinking” which enables the ego to: “… submit them the mental processes an order in time and submits them to reality-testing” (44-45). Second, the ego operates as disguise to three masters: the external world, the id, the superego: “the id’s conflicts with reality and, if possible, its conflicts with the superego too” (46). Finally, another function to the ego is “…the actual seat of anxiety” (47). Thus if the ego fails in its attempts to satisfy the id, anxiety will appear and the unconscious defense mechanisms will be put into motion (47). These mechanisms help the individual to feel at ease.

The last part of the tripartite of the psyche is the superego, which the ego forms out the id (Freud, 28). This contains the values and morals of society, where parents’ teachings play an important and large part (25). Freud says that it gives: “…permanent expression to the influence of the parents…” (25). The superego strives for perfection and pushes to convince the ego to strive for “super moral” goals, as opposed to merely realistic ones (44). The superego is composed of two parts: the conscience and the ego-ideal (27). The conscience may punish the ego via guilt feelings, whereas the ego ideal self represents an image of how a person ought to be and behave. The superego may develop an: “…extraordinary harshness and severity towards the ego” (43). This may lead to depression and therefore: “…the super-ego can become a kind of a gathering place for the death instincts” (44). Moreover: “…it often enough succeeds in driving the ego into death…” (43).

1.1 defense Mechanisms
According to Lois Tyson, in her book Critical Theory Today, an individual’s behavior, feelings and thoughts are products of the interaction between the id, the ego and the superego (25). Whenever there are issues whether in their connection or in control ability of each other, this malfunction leads to the anxiety. Defense mechanisms, such as “denial, selective perception, selective memory, projection and regression” (15) will ease this anxiety. As Tyson explains these mechanisms further, she describes denial as when a person believes that a problem or an unpleasant incident never occurred, selective perception as a mechanism that enables a person to only hear and see things he trusts he can handle, selective memory as something used in order to modify or completely forget painful incidents, projection as attributing one’s own fears or problems onto someone else and finally regression which is a temporary relived return to an earlier experience(15).
1.2 Freud’s neuroses and core issues
The individual may experience anxiety that lead to neuroses, such as: depression, personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Tyson further explains that behind these neuroses there may be core issues such as: fear of intimacy (fearing to get emotionally close with others, as this closeness will hurt or destroy us), fear of betrayal (believing that friends and loved ones cannot be trusted), low self-esteem (seeing ourselves as less worthy than other people), and finally insecure or unstable sense of self (being incapable of sustaining a sense of personal identity, a sense of knowing ourselves) (15-16).

Freud’s topographical model of personality
Freud’s topographical model contains three different levels of awareness: the conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious (The Ego and the Id 5).
“Freud explains that the conscious mind consists of everything that we are aware of at the current moment, the preconscious mind includes thoughts that we are not paying attention to at the moment but which can rapidly be brought to consciousness, and finally the unconscious mind “…which is not in itself and without more ado, capable of becoming conscious” (5)”. “Freud believed that the unconscious strongly guides our behavior although we are unaware of the influence.”
This historical and theoretical part which consists of the origin of the American dream and the Freudian psychoanalysis which would assist in analyzing the mind state of the main characters under the influence of American dream; in relation to the 20th century of American reality.

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