Free «Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas» Essay
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“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” analyzes the turbulence and cultural alterations of the sixties as another generation attempting - and failing - to accomplish the American Dream, an award, which is not possible to achieve amidst police nations where the old cracks down on the novel generation and all of the ideals. That is left in excesses - and, ultimately, excess is what the American Dream is all about. Whether you are a Vegas gambler, a cop, or a freak, you are actually hoping for one sudden win, which gives you a victory. The dissimilarity is that the freak’s success would have been peace and thoughtful, but it does not matter. Kind intentions or bad, there is no immediate satisfaction.
Thesis: Although the concept of the American Dream is difficult to grasp, the usage of Las Vegas in the book allows readers to draw the conclusion that according to Hunter S. Thompson the decisive basics of the American Dream is the imperative of being victorious. For the author, Las Vegas represents the USA. Las Vegas is the most symbolic of all US places, strange and gorgeous in its dedication to immediate satisfaction. And in Vegas, the all-American promise is being maintained - every person can make it. The American dream is the thousand chances, and none at the same time.
Basic Concepts of the American Dream
The idea of the American Dream is difficult to depict mainly, due to the fact that the notion of the American Dream does not exist. Though most individuals claim to be capable to describe the American Dream, it at all times turns out there are crucial dissimilarities, if not total contradictions, in these statements. Even if one merely focuses on the most clear fundamental ideals symbolized by the American Dream, one cannot neglect the dissimilarity of parts and the different possibilities of understanding that lie even in them: liberty, chance, equality, prosperousness, new-beginning, unity and diversity, advancement, spontaneity, purity, personal fulfillment, to name just a few. Jennifer Hochschild asserts the “notion of the American Dream has been applied to all possible things from religious liberty to a home in the outer edge, and it has enthused emotions ranging from the profound satisfaction to disenchanted fury” (Hochschild 15). And it may be this diversity of content that makes the American Dream so victorious - its paradoxical essence.
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On the one hand, the fact that the American Dream is “not tied to one doctrine” is what provides it with the “greatest charm,” as Parrington and Louis assert (Parrington and Louis 5). This indistinctness, that, at the same time, leaves a space for explanation, may also turn the American Dream of one individual into the American Nightmare of the other person: “American citizens still disagree on the instruction for a perfect living, and utopia is nowhere” (Parrington and Louis 5). Therefore, the notion of the American Dream concerns practically each aspect of the American society.
The Creating of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
From 1968 on, Thompson was working on the book for Random House that had the death of the American Dream as its topic. To investigate the ill-defined and imprecise matter, Thompson began gathering all suggestions concerning the death of the American Dream, he could discover in newspapers and journals, in publications by the administration or companies like National Rifle Association (Thompson 91). Despite the fact that he discovered many confirmations the ending of the 1960s had noticed death of an illusion of an enhanced society as it had been motivated by the counterculture in the first years of the decade, Thompson appeared not capable to come to terms with his complex assignment. Whilst he kept missing the deadlines, the American social order crumbled under a rush of hatred and violence. When the chance arose to go to Las Vegas to cover the motorcycle race, Thompson took it. The author had, ultimately, managed to discover the approach to the long pondered topic of the bereavement of the American Dream - and in spite of his apprehension it was possible to add humor into this sad subject.
Duke and Gonzo – the main protagonists of the book – are, to a certain degree, the successors of the initial US settlers who arrived to this nation to discover liberty and the personal rights. However, in the case of Gonzo and Duke, doing the trip at the ending of the sixties, this notion has been turned inside out. The legend of the frontier had disappeared when the Pacific and California had been accomplished, and Duke and his lawyer have no other option but to drive back eastwards whilst following the leftovers of American Dream (Fyfe 245). During the second part of the book, two men drive through Las Vegas in a huge white Cadillac that they have called the “Whale.” The car is a posh symbol of the American Dream, and merely the fact that, in the finale, it is a wreck, tells readers a lot about the state of mind they are in. Duke and Gonzo have been formed by the last ten years. They are at all times violent and paranoid. Loaded with drugs, they are dissident and attempt to project the exaggerated style of living of the counterculture Las Vegas, a place that obviously stresses the showiness of the US society at this point in American history.
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Vegas has been and will constantly be “The Entertainment Capital of the Globe.” It is the capital of gambling, of amusement, and of hedonism. It is the place of the gigantic show acts, the main sporting events, and conventions for all type of companies. In the book, the image of Las Vegas is compound and multifaceted. In “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” the author sends the main character, Duke, into the core of the American Dream that, in this case, is to be discovered in Las Vegas. For the author, Las Vegas represents the USA, and this is not an unbelievable claim as Gottdiener asserts, too: “to a certain degree Las Vegas represents, though usually in extremely exaggerated form, some crucial tendencies in current US society as a whole” (Gottdiener, Collins, & Dickens 50-69). And Joan Didion adds: “Vegas is the most tremendous and symbolic of all US settlements, strange and gorgeous in the venality and its dedication to immediate satisfaction” (Didion 79-83). As the US gambling centre, Las Vegas materialized the success account of the American Dream and the US Nightmare; that is it offered unexpected riches or could be the entire wreck of those, who wish to try the luck. Vegas promised immediate cheerfulness and completion of all dreams and desires, but, underneath the surface, it was managed by gangsters and profit seekers.
Las Vegas clashes with each puritan ethical principle - except for one that, nevertheless, should be called one of the crucial basics of the American Dream – the importance of being victorious. It is the puritan moral of success minus moral values. Las Vegas “has flourished as an exceptional cultural ‘other’ to the puritanical and hard-working industrial ethos of the US heartland” (Gottdiener, Collins, & Dickens 50-69). Here, the circumstances of success have been re-defined and rethought; it does not necessary depend on hard work, but merely on the manner the dices roll, whether an individual is winning or not. It depends on luck. But apparently the all-American assure is being preserved; everyone can make it. Vegas, as depicted in Thompson’s book, is “the tainted antithesis of the puritan image of the city upon a hill; capitalist USA’s ultimate enjoyment dome” (Fyfe 245).
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In Vegas, the turn down of the American Dream of the sixties becomes apparent, especially to those who have not yet moved away to the heartlessness of the seventies. By forcing their style of living, music, and drugs on Las Vegas, Gonzo and Duke are paying the final respects to the ideals and hopes, which disappeared in a society filled with paranoia and violence.
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is an icon of the US literature, addressing a subject, which has affected US writers not merely since but even before the detection of this novel continent in the West. Thompson’s approach was as exceptional as it was true; he wrote the book with humor and preserved the concentration on the subject - the collapse of the American Dream in the 60s. Yet, he was also as profoundly rooted in the history of the literary customs, the cultural variety and political events of his nation. This paper demonstrated these aspects of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
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Generally speaking, the idea of the American Dream is hard to realize. However, that fact that the author chooses Las Vegas as the major setting of the book, permits booklovers to understand that, according to Thompson, the crucial foundation of the American Dream is the significance of being triumphant. For Thompson, Las Vegas represents the entire nation. Las Vegas is the most symbolic of all US cities, weird and stunning in its dedication to instantaneous pleasure. And in Vegas, the all-American swear is being kept; each human being can make it. The American dream is the thousand opportunities and none all at once.