Horatio Alger`s myth

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Mar 2, 2015 05:13
Horatio Alger`s myth

I would like to explain how Horatio Alger`s "Ragged Dick" provides a model for the myth of the individual opportunity taking into account as first the meaning of the last chapter subtitle "An exiting adventure" The deep meaning of the story is in fact contained by these two words,
In the Roman world, a world strictly closed into classes, every attempt to change the own private destiny was a crime against order and law. Apuleius` story, Metamorphosis is the most important adventure of that time, and it was also a satyric commentary over every individual try to change his/her destiny. Moreover the only way to escape it, was the magic. The myth of individual opportunity drown into the ambivalent danger of the magic.
More complicate would be to briefly analyze Don Quixote adventures. Is his story a praise to action or the exact opposite? In a period overfull of social and economic changes, the individual attempt to change his life and the world is just a dream.
Any attempt to change who you have always been since your birth, is denied by the Church, the State, the Class, the Society.
The myth of individual opportunity drown into an hilarious craziness,
Finally, in the Robinson Crusoe this myth finds its first positive arrangement.
His bid to pursue a new career brought him to cast in a desert island,
He will be facing very difficult quests, but at the end he will succeed.
The myth of individual opportunity has to face isolation`s danger but it succeed.
A brilliant a resourceful mind will help both Robinson and Horatio succeed in life.
At the begging of the last chapter he is presented as determined person willing to change his fortune and to upward the economic ladder.
He is still a proud person, eager to compensate his best friend for having helping him to learn to write.
He didn`t only learn to write, he also improved his manner and change his dresses.
We can notice his total availability to change his own culture, the way he speeches or he dresses in order to assimilate to upper classes.
This aspect is crucial because it determines the difference between receiving a reward for saving rich`s son life and catching the opportunity to change his social class and thus his life.
At this point of the story the only thing he needs is an opportunity.
And the opportunity presents itself.
He showed his courage and bravery in saving a child from drowning into the sea and he did it before knowing that would have been a reward for this good action.
This aspect is also crucial because it underlying the great morality of the man.
Any case, most people would comment that not everyone has this opportunity to change his/her life, forgetting completely that one this Horatio have this chance he has already changed his attitude toward life.
But now, let`s take into account what Dalton, Kendall and Mantsios say about this story.
For Dalton the myth of work, persistence, and daring is false and socially destructive. It`s a way that Us government uses to not allocate public resources to poor people and it serves to maintain racial pecking order.
Pedigree, background and class are extremely important in determining the individual success. Diana Kendall`s analysis goes deep the television and newspaper of fair opportunity and classless society.
Media seems to take upper class as a model and to blame poor for being poor. It also perpetrates the myth that everyone is moving up the economic ladder.
The required skills don`t seem different from Dick`s ones: best look, great talent, entrepreneurial abilities.
Such a media reality representation is determined by the bid media desire to perpetrate the status quo.
Finally we have Mantsios point of view, his analysis is very interesting as it is based on statistical data. The statistical data analysis provide a clear frame to look at the situation of class and individual chance of success. For example it is almost unbelievable as kids and teenagers school grades are proportionally high or low to the parents incoming.
As seen in Moore "Idiot Nation" and in Kazol "Still Separate still Unequal" segregation and class differences influence individual change of success and wreck the myth of individual opportunity.