Essay on The Common Form Of The American Dream By Jim Cullen

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Jim Cullen believes that “the most common form” of the American Dream “was cast in terms of commercial success,” (Cullen, 60) and Rebecca Harding Davis discusses in “Life in the Iron-Mills” that it is difficult for workers in a low economic class to succeed. Davis depicts the workers’ life as miserable and hopeless but introduces the Quaker woman at the end to show the existence of hope. Davis implies that workers in the iron mills are stuck in poverty, and that religion is the only hope of the poor to have a better life. The chance for men to move up in the iron mills is little. Most workers do not even think of improving their living condition. Davis points out that “masses of men” are “with dull, besotted faces” even though their “skin and muscle and flesh begrimed with smoke and ashes” and they breathe “an air saturated with fog and grease and soot, vileness for soul and body” (Davis, 1221). The terrible working conditions, which are “horrible to angels,” (Davis, 1221) should arouse workers’ dissatisfaction and desire of attaining a better life, but workers, in fact, are so meek that they accept the current situation. In addition, the isolation that Hugh is exposed to, for example, being regarded as a girl-men, indicates mill workers’ consent to their wage slave role. Hugh “was known as one of the girl-men” because “his muscles were thin, his nerves weak, his face (a meek, woman’s face) haggard, yellow with consumption” (Davis, 1227) and his act of carving Korl appears…

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