American Dream
Ever since the founding of the United States of America in 1776 and its separation from Britain, immigrants flocked to America because it promised a new start in a new world. The main idea behind this obsession with America is that no longer would people's status in society be pre-determined from birth, that is to say, if you were born poor you'd stay poor. Instead the American Dream offered the possibility to improve and to be whatever you wanted to be and do whatever you wanted to do. This idea is in fact routed in the American Declaration of Independence, which states that "all men are created equal" (The Founding Fathers) and that all people are "endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights" (The Founding Fathers) such as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (The Founding Fathers). However, the Iranian interpretation to the American Dream, which is shown by Mr. Nyazi during the Gatsby trial in part two of Reading Lolita In Tehran, is one of a country which supports adultery, killing and other bandit like activities (Nafisi 127). Mr. Nyazi calls this book a cultural rape on his own Iranian culture, (Nafisi 126) which is a much more strict and controlling culture. Mr. Nyazi objections to the American Dream are based upon the negatives of this dream, which are shown in The Great Gatsby such as illicit alcohol smuggling and fornication with a married woman. While some may say that that is an uneducated view of the American Dream, the American Dream has always been a by-product of how media presents it. In this journal entry, I will be exploring some media on the subject of the American Dream and how they connect to the view on the American Dream presented in Nafisi's memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran.

Bruce Springsteen's song Born In The USA capture's America's downfalls with his depressing and truthful lyrics however, they are counteracted by a catchy chorus and a song that is generally considered supportive of America. I believe that this is a great song to explain the American Dream because on the surface it is an upbeat song, which appears to capture the euphoric feelings of being, as Springsteen sings, Born In The USA. However, if you look into the song and its lyrics, while avoiding the catchy chorus and upbeat tempo, one can see the real sentiments behind this song. For an example of this, look no further then the first line which states "born down in a dead man's town"(Chappelow 0:29-0:33). This is a great analogy for the American Dream because on surface America looks immaculate with opportunities for everyone to succeed and create whatever life they desire for themselves. However, if you look further into the dream many stories of failure and the almost impossible odds of success are easily seen. When I compare this view on the American Dream to the one presented in Reading Lolita in Tehran I notice something that is very interesting. In this song, as I said earlier on, the subtleness of the critic of America are hidden behind the euphoria of this song. The opposite is true in Reading Lolita in Tehran, as the positives of freedom and opportunity, which America offers, are hidden behind the hatred of America (Nafisi 81), which the religious leaders in Iran preach about. It is interesting how both the song and books are negative critics of the American Dream and what it offers, however, in the American portrayal of these dreams, the negative aspects are hidden while in the Iranian portrayal, the positive aspects are hidden. This shows how in neither society can media really be truthful to their real thoughts towards the American Dream.






The movie, The Pursuit Of Happiness, (PursuitofHappyness) captures the positives of the American Dream and the idea that anyone, with the right amount of hard work and skill, no matter they're social class, can succeed. This view of the American Dream is the typical view that has been a catalyst for wide spread immigration to the United States over the years. Mr. Nyazi and the rest of the ruling religious leaders in Iran do not really have the opposite view of the American Dream, in fact in Reading Lolita in Tehran, the economical benefits of America are not really discussed. Instead, Reading Lolita in Tehran concentrates more on the aspects of social and religious freedoms rather than the economical freedom, which Chris Gardner needs to succeed. However, I believe that the view of America, which this movie offers, is still an important piece of media to consider because of the positive spin put on America, which is lacking in most other 21st century media pieces.





“I believe in America. America has made my fortune. And I raised my daughter in the American fashion. I gave her freedom, but - I taught her never to dishonor her family. She found a boyfriend, not an Italian...Two months ago, he took her for a drive, with another boyfriend. They made her drink whiskey. And then they tried to take advantage of her. She resisted. She kept her honor. So they beat her like an animal...She was the light of my life - my beautiful girl. Now she will never be beautiful again...I-I went to the police like a good American. These two boys were brought to trial. The judge sentenced them to three years in prison - suspended sentence. Suspended sentence! They went free that very day! I stood in the courtroom like a fool. And those two bastards, they smiled at me. Then I said to my wife, 'for justice, we must go to Don Corleone.’ ” (Malta)

This is the opening monologue of the award winning film The Godfather Part 1. In this speech, Bonasera is speaking to the mob boss Don Corleone to plead for justice against the two men who raped and beat his daughter (Malta). The two American men who performed this atrocious crime against his daughter go unpunished because the American justice system fails Bonasera and sides with the American men (Malta). This scene is extremely telling of the American Dream as it depicts a successful Italian undertaker who has made a fortune in the American way, living the American Dream. However, now that he needs to rely upon the American society for justice, he does not achieve what he desires. So, Bonasera appeals to the mob boss, Don Corleone for proper vengeful justice against the two men (Malta). This is very similar to Mr. Nyazi's claim that the American Dream preaches, "that we should all be adulterers and bandits" (Nafisi 127). Although Bonasera has relied upon America to create his fortune, eventually the indecency and lack of morals in the American society has betrayed him.
The whole Godfather series is a great portrayal of the American Dream, starting from the quote on the first page of the first book, which reads "behind every great fortune there is a great crime". This whole series shows how the morals of economic success which the American Dream relies upon, in turn shapes America into a society of "adulterers and bandits" (Nafisi 127) because of the freedoms which America allows. In Iran, these freedoms are viewed positively through the eyes of the women in the book club who see the freedoms as an opportunity to truly express themselves and negatively through the eyes of Mr. Nyazi and other religious leaders who come to same realization that Bonasera has come to in this section (Malta), that while American may promote and guarantee freedom it also creates a society without morals.


The way which we view America and the American Dream has been shaped both positively and negatively by the media. The views on the American Dream presented in Reading Lolita in Tehran are also both positive and negative. For example, the women in the book club present a very positive views towards the freedoms America offers (Nafisi 270) while the Iranian government and Mr. Nyazi view these freedoms as creating an immoral society (Nafisi 127). All three of the medias which I have compared the book to have their own way at showing their view towards the American Dream, which do present similar and different perspectives on this dream to the perspectives shown in Reading Lolita in Tehran. To conclude, the American Dream has propelled millions upon millions of people to America and this fact can not be denied. Whether or not these immigrants are indeed getting a better life for themselves and their family can debated however, the fact still remains the immigrants are drawn to America because of this dream of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (The Founding Fathers).


The Founding Fathers. "Declaration of Independance." The Charters of Freedom. United States Government National Archives, July 4th 1776. Web. 28 Nov 2010. http://archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html


Chappelow, Mr. Born In The USA. Perf. Springsteen, Bruce. 2007, Film.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIekamBDiAw


PursuitofHappyness, Dir. The Pursuit of Happyness. Columbia, Overbrook: 2006, Film. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xcZTtlGweQ


Malta, J Geoff. "Mario Puzo's The Godfather." The Godfather Trilogy. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec 2010. http://www.jgeoff.com/godfather/gf1/transcript/gf1transcript


Nafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita In Tehran. New York, USA: Random House. Inc, 2003. 1-343. Print