American Dream

3 March 2017

Parth Patel Topic #1 The American Dream is one of the things that describes what America is made of. Although the definition of the American Dream may be different from individual to individual, the main purpose is one thing: to gain the wealth and success you need to live a good life. People come to America because this is the land where you have equal opportunity, and the ability to become very successful. There have been many movies and books that depict the American Dream, but both show that the American Dream is not always the happy story that most Americans yearn for.

These two movies are Citizen Kane and Mildred Pierce. As these two movies show that the American Dream is not what it seems, they show how middle class life and strong family values is the key to a good life. In the movie Mildred Pierce, the American Dream is portrayed as more of a nightmare. Mildred Pierce is the story of Mildred Pierce, a single mother who is willing to do anything to support her two daughters. Most of the movie is a flashback of Mildred explaining the recent events of her life to police officers after her husband Monte was murdered.

Pierce separated from her first husband, Bert, after she found out he had an affair with another woman. Both of her daughters, Veda and Kay, live with Pierce now and she is willing to do anything to support the needs of them, especially the 16-year-old Veda. Mildred took a job as a waitress and she baked pies for extra income to meet the needs of Veda, who often longs for things that Mildred cannot afford. Veda was furious when she found out that Mildred was a waitress, which led Mildred to quit. Mildred then came up with the idea to start a restaurant to improve her image in the eyes Veda.

She used the help of her real estate agent friend Wally and her future husband Monte to get the business started, which ended up being a great success. This storyline shows how a single mother went from barely supporting her two daughters into making enough money to give them everything that they need. The American Dream is to become successful and wealthy enough to support your family and the dream came true for Mildred. However, the film showed that although the American Dream may lead to happiness, it can also lead to destruction.

As her business started to make more and more money, Mildred began to spoil Veda more and more, hoping to gain her approval at any cost. Veda still acted out negatively towards Mildred but Mildred kept trying to give Veda more things to gain acceptance. While Mildred was on a romantic getaway with Monte, her youngest daughter Kay contracted pneumonia and passed away, causing Mildred to blame herself although Kay was under the care of Bert for the weekend. Later in the movie, Mildred went on to marry Monte in what seemed to be an impulsive marriage.

She soon realized how much she had to support Monte along with Veda and eventually ended her relationship with Monte. Monte and Veda then had a small affair which led to Veda killing him when he refused to marry her. Mildred pursued and captured the American Dream, but it didn’t pan out the way she wanted it to. Mildred Pierce is a movie that shows that the American Dream can also be a nightmare, as you can see with the life of Mildred throughout the movie. Mildred Pierce shows us that the middle class life with a complete family is the peaceful life that everyone should lead.

The movie shows that Mildred’s life became disastrous after her family broke apart when her and Bert separated. A message that this movie is trying to show is that having a complete family is the way life should be lived. The movie tells us that adultery and separation will only lead to even worse things. Although the movie did show that Mildred was able to support her children on her own, it also showed that having a husband with her at all times would have added the stability it once had before. The beginning of the flashback was around the time Mildred learned of Bert’s affair, so we only saw what happened after their marriage ended.

It seemed that the Pierce family lived the ordinary life of every middle class family without any problems. The problems only started after Bert left. Another message that the movie tries to give viewers is the importance of family values. Throughout the movie, Veda is often disrespectful towards Mildred, which leads to Mildred making more rash decisions such as buying her a car. Mildred tried using her money to solve the problems that her and Veda had. The movie was showing that if Veda had any morals and values for her family that Mildred would not constantly try to please her by making wrong decisions.

This is how Mildred Pierce showed us that the perfect way to live is to have a complete family with strong family values. Citizen Kane also showed how the American Dream isn’t all that people make it out to be. The movie revolves around the life of Charles Foster Kane, a very wealthy entrepreneur. In the beginning of the movie, you see Charles as a young boy in a low class family. His family own some property but you can see that they want him to be removed from the clutches of his environment when they send him off with Thatcher.

When Charles Foster Kane starts living with Thatcher, he stumbles upon something he would not have had with his parents, financial security. Thatcher had literally given Kane the American Dream at a young age. Kane grew up under Thatcher’s supervision and at the age of 25, he took over Thatcher’s newspaper corporation, The New York Inquirer. Right off the bat, Kane hired all of the best journalists in New York and made his paper the best in the city. Charles’ first marriage was to the President’s niece, Emily Norton. The marriage grew sour over the years and Charles ended up having an affair with an ordinary woman, Susan Alexander.

Emily and Charles’ opponent for governor learned of the affair and his marriage and political career dissolved. Charles eventually married Susan and tried to make her something she is not, a famous opera singer. Throughout the movie, Charles is living the American Dream. Yet, there is still emptiness in his life. All of the money in the world cannot buy Charles the emotional happiness that he desires. Kane knows that this is the case so he uses the vast amount of money he has to buy love and friendship. He also uses his money to make others feel miserable just like he does.

Citizen Kane shows that living the American Dream does not mean life is going to be filled with happiness. On the contrary, it shows that the simple, ordinary life that Kane once had as a child is the life that people should long for. Citizen Kane also promotes the middle class life with a complete family. When Charles Foster Kane died alone in his mansion, he uttered the word “rosebud” and dropped a snow globe on to the ground. Those two things are very significant to the message the movie was trying to tell us. Rosebud ended up being the sled that Kane was playing with at the beginning of the movie.

The fact that Kane said rosebud in his last moment of life shows that Kane finds peace in the life that he had as a child when he lived with his parents. The snow globe also represents Kane’s childhood home. In the beginning of the movie, you see Charles playing in the snow at his Colorado home. Both of these things show that Kane wished he continued his life at home before all of the misery money and fame brought him. There were two times in the movie when Kane became miserable, and both of those times were when important women in his life had left him.

The first time was when his mom had given him up to Thatcher. Kane never recovered from that and you can see that from the emotional emptiness he had throughout the movie. The only time when Kane seemed to be happy during the movie was when he was with Susan Alexander. He was happy with her because she was an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. Being alone with her took him away from the complexity of the “American Dream” life that he had. That is why losing her devastated him and caused him to trash her room.

These things show that if Kane lived a simple and ordinary life, he would not be miserable like he was throughout the movie. In conclusion, both Citizen Kane and Mildred Pierce show that the American Dream is less than desirable and that a simple, middle class life is the life everyone should strive for. Both movies showed that if Charles Foster Kane and Mildred Pierce lived an ordinary life without the power of money, then their lives would not become miserable. Both movies showed that the strength of family ties can exceed any problems that you will face throughout life.

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