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The Notion Of Myths And Heroes

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Par   •  11 Mai 2015  •  799 Mots (4 Pages)  •  2 765 Vues

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I am going to deal with the notion “Myths and heroes”.

To begin with I’d like to give a definition of the notion.

A myth is a popular belief on which social values are often based.

A hero can be someone who is ready to sacrifice his or her life in order to make things evolve positively. Heroes are the legitimate characters of myths. In relation to the notion the subject of my presentation will be the American Dream.

We may wonder to what extent this theme illustrates the notion of ‘Myths and Heroes” and if the American Dream is a myth or a reality.

First I will define the theme of the American Dream. Secondly I will focus on the dramatic tension between dream and reality through the text On the Threshold of a New World by Mark Helprin. Finally I will deal with the song America from the musical West Side Story and analyze the reasons why people criticize the idea of the American Dream in the second part of the 20th century.

The American Dream is the notion that the American social, economic and political system makes success possible for every individual. Someone who manages to achieve their version of the American Dream is said to be “living the dream”.

So it is the idea that everyone living in the US can be successful thanks to their effort, their courage or their determination even if they start from scratch. But is there a reason why it is called a dream? Could it be just an illusion, a myth whose heroes were the immigrants?


The text On the Threshold of a new world by Mark Helprin was written in 1976. It deals with the issue of immigration to the USA in search of a new world to live in. The idea of the American Dream is older than the USA itself. It dates back to the 1600s when people began to have hopes for a better life in a new world America and be happier. They fled their countries because they were poor or religiously persecuted. People dreamt of owning land and being richer. People like the narrator of the text, Mark Helprin, wanted to fulfill their dreams. Mark Helprin describes the adventures and feelings of a young Jewish writer, himself, who arrives at Ellis Island at the beginning of the twentieth century. Throughout the text we understand the dramatic tension between dream and reality. Ellis island was the famous immigration center in New York harbor. New York was the door to the Promised Land. But the immigrants arrived on Ellis Island where they were allowed or not to enter the USA.

On the island, the narrator, like all immigrants, is treated like an animal and has to go through a medical inspection. He is examined like cattle and is mentally and physically humiliated. But the narrator reacts with irony and keeps his self-confidence, dignity and hopes. As a matter of fact, he dreams his new life in Manhattan.

On the one hand, the way he is treated and welcomed to the USA debunks the myth and changes our perception of the American Dream. Life is going to be hard for most immigrants.

But on the other hand,


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