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Actuality of the Dream

At the onset of an emerging American society, J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur comments on the principles of American social organization and the new consciousness that was arising in Letters from an American Farmer. Crevecoeur incorporated not only his own personal feelings and thoughts into this work, but also integrated depictions of ordinary American life using the important philosophical, political, and economic theories of the Enlightenment (850). The images of a picturesque American farmer whose life is seemingly perfect and filled with abundant happiness in his new world is the foundation, but this vision is abruptly transformed into complete despondency when perfection is contaminated with slavery and Revolution. The detailed illustration of this dream world, gone array, is filled with intense accounts of utter bliss and happiness to those of horrific brutality and desolation. In Letters, Crevecoeur effectively utilizes imagery in scenes of farming, slavery and war, and progressive changes in tone to portray the actuality of the new happy land of opportunity, America, that entitles each to entertain new ideas and form new opinions while also depicting a complete divergence from English traditions (857). Thus, producing the formation of the American, the destruction of a notion of the ideal life, and the development of the American consciousness. Crevecoeur poses the famous question, What, then, is the American, this new man? (850) He also addresses some of the most pressing concerns of the time: the issue of American identity, self-interests, and freedom from institutional oppression. While celebrating the largeness and fertility of the land, this narrative also introduces darker elements, including slavery and war that casts a long shadow over the new nation. During a time of monarchial rule where free choice and independence were not even considered, Crevecoeur created a setting through images of freedom, where pursuit of ...

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