Myth of the American Dream: Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Paine is broken and reveals the entire scheme.

Similarly, Dumbo suggests that a belief in one's self can accomplish anything, even in the face of the most seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Dumbo is the story of an elephant with enormous ears. Dumbo is a freak and the mockery of the circus. His mother is taken away after she tries to protect him. The circus is a cruel and judgmental environment that put animals on display for the public's entertainment. However, Dumbo proves that with gumption, unrecognized talents can be honored. This is was typical of the Disney style -- much like during the Great Depression, the third little pig was celebrated as someone who "exhibits old-fashioned virtues, hard work, self-reliance, self-denial" (Sklar 204). The social prejudice that hurts Dumbo does not have to be cured; he merely needs to try harder to use his disability in service of society.

These films are not simply works of entertainment. The plots both hinge upon cherished ideals that are critical components of American mythology. Both Capra's vision of Washington and the Disney cartoon present "an idealized vision of social relations" (Skylar 209). They show a profound distrust of elite persons in power, but rather than anger and guile, only the most innocent and childlike members of society can challenge immorality. The solution is not to tear the system down but simply to have 'nicer' people in charge. In both cases, the heroes do not crave power (Mr. Smith is appointed; Dumbo accidentally discovers his power of flight) and use it only for the good of others, either the American public in the case of Smith or the circus in the case of Dumbo.

Works Cited

Dumbo. Directed by Walt Disney. 1941.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Directed by Frank Capra.…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Dumbo. Directed by Walt Disney. 1941.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Directed by Frank Capra. 1939.

Skylar, Robert. Movie-Made America. Vintage, 1994.

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