Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas Essay

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson unmasks the reality of the American Dream. In the book Thompson portrays and reveals the American Dream as dead, but also as an illusion created by American society. The American Dream was originally portrayed as the notion that you must work hard to achieve the wealth you wish to gain, but now the American Dream in reality consists of people cheating their way to the Dream. Thompson depicts this reality with different events throughout the book and by setting the story in Las Vegas.

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Thompson, from the very beginning, mentions the American Dream to the reader. He introduces the American Dream as if it were real: “…we’re on our way to Las Vegas to find the American Dream” (6). The American Dream is never clearly stated to be a certain information or idea. But we always assume that the American Dream is achieved through hard work and aspiration to do the impossible.

Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo sets out on a journey to Las Vegas to find the American Dream. Duke and Dr. Gonzo don’t realize that the American Dream is only an illusion. The Dream is always in sight, but you are never able to reach it. “…I tell you, my man, this is the American Dream in action!” (10). They think that, because of the good fortune that that they have received, they are living the American Dream. When Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo set out on their journey at the beginning of the book, they have a carload of drugs and illegal substances. I think, because they are always high, they are living part of the American Dream of not caring what they do.

When they go to Las Vegas, they have no regard for the law at all. In Part Two of the book, Duke and Dr. Gonzo attend the District Attorneys’ Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs with many law enforcers in attendance. They attend the conference high and go unnoticed in front of all of the law enforcers. Because they are under the influence of illegal substances at the conference and none of the officers notice, it seems as if they are living in an illusion where crimes go unnoticed and therefore are living the American Dream. Being in Las Vegas, you would expect to find crazy people, people on drugs, and people who just don’t care what they do and let loose. Las Vegas is bright with lights to capture the attention of people searching for the American Dream. Las Vegas is the short cut to the top.

People go to Las Vegas to escape the reality of their lives; Las Vegas is the illusion of the American Dream: “Still humping the American Dream, that vision of the Big Winner somehow emerging from the last-minute pre-dawn chaos of a stale Vegas casino” (57). Because the book is exemplify mainly in Las Vegas, Thompson displays how the city is the perfect place to set the illusion of the American Dream. Throughout the book, Hunter S. Thompson writes about the American Dream. He portrays the American Dream as an illusion and uses many examples and the setting to us perceive the illusion. In the end, the American Dream is only an illusion portrayed by living the high life but by not working hard to get there. The idea of the American Dream is only there to push us in the direction we wish to go in our lives.

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