The American Dream





The American Dream

            The film “Good Will Hunting” talks about Will, an orphan livingin Boston who worked as a janitor at MITand who had a passion for reading. Willis aunique individual caught betweenliving in an academic environment and an extensive criminalbackground. His genius skillsincrease his popularity at MIT and appeal among women particularly Skylar. After a while, Will started visiting a psychiatristto deal with the parental abuse in his past. The rest of the movie covers the struggle between the psychiatrist and his professor, Gerald Lambeau as they attempt to help Will. Each of the protagonistsheld different perspectiveson thedefinition of the American Dream based on their own experiences.

            In the discussion on the elements of the American Dream in the film, it is clear that the characters in the film all posses a different understanding of enjoying the American Dream.

Gerald Lambeau, the university professor had a secular view of the American Dream. He understood that succeeding in the academic field by becoming a celebrated professor was his highest point. Conversely, Sean had a different understanding of achieving the American dream.

 In the film, he mentions that the contentment he acquired from sharing love with another person, teaching at the university and sharinghis stories with other students. His understanding of the American dream was the opposite of Lambeau’s, one that he categorized as motivated by pride and a dependence on education. This divergent perception of the American Dream gives the audiencethe task of determining the best way to evaluate success: accolades, success, and wealth or happiness, friendship, and humbleness (Osteen 12).Will’s desire to live a normal and humble lifeis a direct contradiction of the original contemporary American Dream. The majority ofAmericanswould prefer to laze about and avoid working completely while enjoying the wealth and popularity.Will was in a placethat allowed him to enjoy these benefitsbased on his extensive intellect. However, he opted to avoid this type of life.

            The American Dream prescribes that every citizen who works hard enough will achieve their secular desires including success in career and business. Countless earlier films have attempted to highlight the American dream in a different way. In the film, some of the people work for the rest of their lives without any respite. Most of them are not lucky enough to clinch a “winning lottery ticket” that allows people to realize the dream (Hochschild 45). It is also possible to draw a connection between the film and the American Dream. The American Dream is characterized by an inclination to focus on reaching a level of wealth and satisfaction. However, among people who are unable to reach this level, looking up to successful people is the next best thing (Winn 45). All the characters in Good Will Hunting assumed that they could benefit from Will’s prosperity. Chucky and the gang believed that Willy was their “ticket” out of the difficult life. Professor Lambeau was interested in making Will the next Einstein, a dream that was his own. His girlfriend Skylar, who was superficial, demanded unconditional love from him. However, in the end, the film shows that the American Dream is simply a mirage. It also shows that humility and simplicity are elements that are difficult to achieve in 21st century America.

Works Cited

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Hochschild, Jennifer L. Facing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class and the Soul of the Nation, Jennifer L. Hochschild. Place of publication not identified: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Osteen, Mark. Nightmare Alley: Film Noir and the American Dream. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

Winn, J E. The American Dream and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. New York: Continuum, 2007.

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