Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew C. Roudané

Second Advisor

Dr. Pearl A. McHaney

Third Advisor

Dr. Nancy D. Chase

Abstract

In an interview conducted by Matthew C. Roudané, Arthur Miller elaborates on the extent the myth of the American Dream infuses our literature: “The American Dream is the largely unacknowledged screen in front of which all American writing plays itself out—the screen of the perfectibility of man. Whoever is writing in the United States is using the American Dream as an ironical pole of his story” (374). Suzan-Lori Parks is no exception to this rule. In her Pulitzer-Prize winning Topdog/Underdog, Parks reveals the illusory nature of the American Dream on a private, deeply personal level by focusing her drama on two brothers living in one under-furnished room in a rooming house. As the audience watches the main characters spiral into their tragic undoing, we are forced to question the validity of the American Dream and our free-enterprise system that supposedly enables that dream.

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