The American Dream

Le rêve américain

children, job, home, white picket fence

College, Family, Career

effort, hope, future

hard-working, success, anyone

Higher and higher. Never-ending, sadness, hope

history, diversity, inmigration, lost

ideal, success, hope

immigrant dream, difficult, education

Lie, Aggression, False

money, freedom, growth

money, success, hard work

old fashioned, losing relevance

overrated, declining

prosperity, independence, happiness

success, struggle, money

work, succeed, home

Attractif, réel, fictif, difficile

chicago, vouloir, pouvoir

construction, réussite, argent

crédulité, mensonges, manipulation

endettement, voiture, sport

entreprenariat, passé, désillusion


illusion, mérite, individualisme

individualiste, humain, élitiste

passé, succès, découverte, expatriation

réussite, partir de bas et arriver haut

stallone, obama, eastwood

succès, famille, maison, garage

travail, famille, exploit


utopie, rêver, argent


French 11am 2/25 (compared with "success"):

For the Americans, money, prosperity, and success were emphasized, but so was "declining". The French students were more critical: "un utopie" and "illusion". Both connotations were more negative than those of "success", but the French were definitely more critical of this dream (manipulation, mensonges, fictif, Hollywood), while Americans saw hope, hard work, and growth.

This isn't something we said in class, but I would not consider Hollywood the American Dream :-)



Les films Hollywoodiens sont perçus en france comme le vecteur dans le monde de "l'american way of life" et du rève américain. Cela nous est d'ailleurs ensseigné en cours d'histoire au lycée. Les français se montrent plus critique vis à vis de ce concept puisqu'il ne semble pas se vérifier dans la vraie vie, ou très exceptionnelement. En effet pour un self-made man, combien se sont ruinés en vain ?

The Americans in general seem to have a more jaded view of the American Dream, whereas the French have a slightly more enthusiastic, or at least more Hollywood-influenced impression, as Louis pointed out. It's almost as though, via the wide reach of Hollywood, the French see the American Dream the way we want it to be seen, whereas we Americans see it the way our media portrays it, which is much less flattering.

I think that both the French and American students have very critical views of the American Dream. Where French students cited words such as "fictif, mensonges, manipulation, illusion, exploit," American students referenced, "lie, false, aggression, losing relevance, overrated and old fashioned." I think that this critique of the American Dream is indicative of the economic times in which we live, especially in light of the U.S. financial crisis. 

I am curious as to whether the French students' opinions of the American Dream have been steadily declining or whether recent economic uncertainty has triggered this negative sentiment.

I feel that the American Dream used to be marketed very well to the rest of the world, and for some period it was valid given the unmistakable propserity, high standards of living and rapid technological development. However, the social and economic problems that have developed since that golden age have disllusioned many into believing it to be more of an artifice, fabricated by the media and sold as an opiate to distract from more pressing concerns. It has uprooted the American conscience from identifying problems, fulfilling self-interests, and expressing genuine feelings into being ignorant and blissful in an apparent utopia: "the Greatest Nation on Earth." I have never set foot off of North America, and I have never been to France, but at this point I feel I have been taught most of my life that I cannot be happy elsewhere.


I definitely agree with what you said. And because the American Dream is portrayed as this "flattering Hollywood lifestyle" it seems as though it's "fake" or "fictitious" as the French students described. However, the dream as most Amercans mentioned refers to success in one's career, for example, and to growing a family while making money. Such things are the "American Dream." The media seems to spice it up a bit and make it seem as if the dream is to become famous and make millions. 

Comme l'a dit Louis, le rêve américain est principalement vu à travers le prisme d'Hollywood par les Français. Et c'est probablement en partie pour ça que nous sommes sceptiques vis à vis de ce rêve, car  Hollywood n'est que fiction.
Nous n'avons peut être pas la même vision du rêve américain que celle qu'en ont les américains eux mêmes comme le suggère Lilian.
En tout cas pour répondre à Caroline, je pense que notre vision de ce rêve a été fortement dégradée par la crise mais cela ne date pas uniquement de ça,  comme l'a dit Alex ce rêve date surtout de l'âge d'or des États-Unis et s'est estompé petit à petit depuis.

It is interesting that all the students were quite critical of "the American Dream," but it makes sense.  One reason is the economic decline, but I think that the changing ideas of family and careers also contributes to this.  Most people no longer believe in the traditional, stereotypical family model, and many people in our generation could not imagine giving up their career for a family.  The idea of settling down in a permanent home probably does not appeal to most people our age (at least yet..)

Bizarrement, dans mon esprit, le rêve américain est incarné par les éléments de leur culture présents chez nous. Ca me parait paradoxale, mais du coup quand je pense rêve américain je pense cinéma, séries, fastfood, voitures, etc.

Après, il y a aussi l'image du "self-made man", et de l'entrepreneur parti de rien arrivé au sommet.

@ Antoine

It is interesting to hear what other cultures perceive to be "The American Dream". If the elements are perceived to be fast food, cars, etc, it is true that many other countries have these. Very interesting thought. 


Also looking at things that Clement and Caroline have said, I think that the American dream has definitely changed over time. I am not sure when the idea was initially introduced, (maybe the 1920s?) but I have read many books in my English classes that take place in various time periods that show different aspects of the american dream. The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, Death of a Salesman, and Catcher in the Rye. These books all discuss various aspects of the american dream from different perspectives. One takes place in the 1920s with wealthy characters. Another takes place with the poor in the Great Depression, and the other two books take place with middle class people in the 1960s and 1970s. The American dream has been around a long time, and has definitely changed in different ways.