The Conflict in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged skillfully effectively introduces us to a setting where actions and values are placed on a scale and compared to each other. Although the author also deals with many side struggles, her primary conflict is that with human action. Rand is able to add dramatic effects to her writing as she integrates the theme of “the role of the mind in human existence.” Atlas Shrugged focuses on the concerns of values and issues that are then further expressed with actions. Rand does an amazing job at interpreting actions using wide abstract principles that can be seen throughout the conflict which unravels through the conflict. Atlas Shrugged introduces us to the plot-theme from the beginning as it centers its attention on getting the audience to understand how the theme and the main conflict are linked back to the action that takes place in human existence. Going more into depth, Rand specifies that the abstract theme is focused around “men of the mind going on strike against an altruist-collectivist society.” This truly comes to prove that Rand’s hope for the book was to give attention to the highly important situation we have at hand which she expressed through her abstract theme of how the mind plays an enormous role in our lives and how every action results in a reaction.
The main conflict of Atlas Shrugged is presented indirectly by Rand as she states it in terms of action. This creates a smooth transition throughout the reading which slowly prepares the reader for the moment when the conflict arises. She is able to transmit the theme and thus introduce the conflict through her efficient use of strong characters in this case the creators and looters. They play a detrimental role in Atlas Shrugged because they are in fact in moral conflict with each other. Rand actually uses this conflict to express how the characters action play into the overall theme.On the other hand, the creators, Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, are portrayed by the author as extremely against the looters both willingly and morally. However, in a way she contradicts herself for they support them in action. Rand does this again further in the reading as Dagny and Rearden oppose Galt and the strikers in action, but agree with them morally. This comes to show how actions and morals are separated in the story which adds on to Rand’s argument that actions are the drive of human’s existence.
Throughout the story Rand portrayed the heroes as the source of the success. In the story it was them that had the power to control the world and carry the burdens that came with it on their shoulders. She gives special emphasis to Dagny and Hank for they are shown to take initiative and matters into their own hands resulting in their own happiness. Although they are mesmerized, some of the characters such as the producers are dramatized as only taking initiative whenever the situation deals with matter having to do with themselves. The author’s heroes are portrayed to be extraordinary people that are above others. The most crucial events in Atlas Shrugged are clearly dramatized. These events actually occur before the eyes of the readers as Rand uses literary devices such as flashbacks in order to convey the importance of key events relating back to the central theme and thus the cause of the conflict of the story.
In addition, Rand introduces the conflict with society which is mainly derived by position and level. Dagny is placed under public scrutiny and is criticized for what she stands for as a person as was done with James. Dagny’s personality is portrayed as cold, but in her own mind she sees her actions as good. Also, it can be seen that it is difficult for her to make decisions on the capitalism when she feels like she’s being pressured. The society expresses that they want to be made a part of the current economic system, but when she attempts to open their eyes she faces backlash. It is evident that humans are resistant to change even if this means that they continue to stay in the dark on important matters of the world although this can be affecting their own society. Change forces humans to step out of their comfort zone and can be uncomfortable at times because it is difficult to do something that others might see as strange. It is shown in Atlas Shrugged that they are stubborn and against change.
Atlas Shrugged depicts how opposition and conflicts from society oppose what’s good morally and physically in action. Throughout the book, the embodiment of honesty is differentiated from the embodiment of corruption. At the end it is clear that the solution to the conflict at hand is that despite the looter efforts to hurt the mind, Galt finds a way to be successful through intellect. Showing that intellect has the power to change lives.
Directive 10-289 As a Main Element in Atlas Shrugged
The Quote “In the name of the general welfare, to protect the safety of people, to achieve full equality and full stability, it was decreed for the duration of the national emergency -” is the introduction of legislation called directive 10- 289. in the passage from the novel Atlas Shrugged where the main government leaders this quote appears, Mr. Thompson Head of State and Wesley Mouch of the Office of Economic Planning and Natural Resources, and some corrupt corporate executives as James Taggart, Orren Boyle , among others, they are talking and looking for ways to weave the threads of the conspiracy that allow them to freeze the economy and natural resources of the nation, right through legislation, which they called Directive 10-289, obviously this law only will benefit the conspirators, this legislation consists of eight points which essentially aims to make businesses artificial satellites government workers enslave and subjugate the general population.
The first point of this directive, on the one hand enslaves workers and the other takes steps to ensure the availability of workforce, establishing specific issues like that all people who reach the age of twenty years will account Unification Board, which will include where, in his opinion, their services will better serve the nation’s interests; the second point of law requires all manufacturers and traders of any nature forcing them to remain in operation and prohibits them from selling or transferring their business, under penalty of expropriation of their establishment and of each and every one of its properties; the third point goes further and puts the private company under the absolute supervision government, eliminating everything that represents the operation of the independent private company, making clear that the government will be the administrator of all the country’s resources; the fourth point confirms all the provisions of the third point; subsequent points it involve freezing of wages, profits, as well as the obligation of citizens to have to spend the same amount of annual money for goods and services, also industrialists are forced to maintain the same production levels that they held prior to the launch of the new legislation.
Directive 10-289 seems to be inspired by the practices carried out by various socialist states, although it is important to note that in countries with socialist orientation government such changes do not occur all at once as described in Atlas Shrugged in socialist governments all changes are gradually introduced and justifying them as measures necessary for the welfare of the people.
The bottom line projected in this passage from the book Atlas Shrugged, it is how the power of government in cahoots with wealthy and servile people can conspire to violate the freedoms enjoyed by the capitalist and democratic system, impersonating with a totalitarian system, similarly reveals that no one is safe from the depredations of government, which relies on the hollow reasoning that anything does is for the common good.
Although the issue of the quote regarding the directive 10-289 described in Atlas Shruggedis fictitious, some details such as certification under penalty of perjury that large companies have to do about that are not reducing the workforce full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate of Obamacare, the obligation to present statements under oath about this particular, setting fines for breach the law and also that employers are required under the rules of this law to justify their decisions about personnel hired or fired, this situation was described by Mr. Thessen as a inquisitorial measure by the treasury department, taking this topic to establishing a point of comparison a parameter comparison with the point number one of the Directive No. 10-289 described in atlas Shrugged, but at the end of his interview Mr. Thiessen clarified that the Obama administration is not required that people stay in their jobs, or they cannot be fired only to avoid Obamacare, the existence of the resource to impose fines for non-compliance with this law seems to be a government strategy to cover any breach of this law, if the government was convinced that this law would have no obstacle on their way to being implemented, these inquisitorial measures were not necessary.
In conclusion although the directive 10-289 Ran any book is the product of fiction and raising this directive literally has remote possibility to happen in America, it is important that we remain vigilant to protect our political, social and economic freedoms, because always can be the possibility that our lives changed and fall under the total control of a corrupt government supported by large corporations, which without scrupulous n would not hesitate to enslave the working masses if that represents them more wealth
Money And Its Role in Atlas Shrugged
The Meaning of Money Rhetorical Analysis
The Meaning of Money appeared in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged and was given in the book by her character Francisco D’Anconia, the owner by inheritance of the world’s largest copper mine. D’Anconia makes the speech during a party in the book while the conversation of money comes up, after one of the characters states in relation to Francisco, “You know, money is the root of all evil, and he’s the typical product of money.” Francisco then asks what the root of money is, leading to his overall point that money is not evil, and rather it is a tool of exchange between human beings that allows for peaceful interaction. Examples of rhetorical devises used throughout the speech are repetition, personification of money, a high amount of logos, and smaller amounts of pathos.
Francisco demonstrates repetition in the first paragraph after he explains his reasoning behind why money is not evil. He ends the paragraph by asking, “Is this what you consider evil?” He then rewords the same question at the end of five more paragraphs in the speech. One quote from the speech that provides more context of what Francisco is saying before repeating the question is, “Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?” By repeating reworded versions of this question at the end of each point he makes, he influences the reader and the other characters in the book to question their current beliefs of money, and ask why they hold it to be evil, when it can be described as such a noble entity. This is an effective method because in order to persuade a person of an opposing viewpoint, one first has to make them question their own beliefs by being aware of opposing positions. However, in the quote above, Francisco mentions virtue and that money and virtue are two sides of the same coin. By asking the question later in that paragraph, he is in a sense insulting the people listening to his speech, by implying that they are not men of virtue, and that is the reason they dislike money so strongly. That can be an ineffective technique because when a person is insulted, they tend to close their minds and ignore most evidence presented to them, out of fear that it questions their character. However, the fact still remains that if a person is secure enough to not feel attacked, the repetition of questions does cause them to rethink their beliefs, either aloud or silently in their minds.
Another technique utilized is personification, which is one of the more effective rhetorical devices used throughout the speech. Earlier in the speech, Francisco states, “It [money] will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” Stating that money can “take” a person somewhere, shows clear evidence of personification. Much like a car, money has the ability to go places and can take a person along with it. Those places may be easy to reach with little effort or help needed, and some may be difficult to reach, and without money, some places are almost impossible to reach. However, a person is needed to guide money in the right direction, otherwise it could potentially go astray and lead to undesirable results. Personifying money this way is an effective method because it immediately guides the reader’s thinking to a person driving a car, as a result, they become able to understand the comparison without the need for further questioning.
The next example of personification lies farther ahead in the speech is when Francisco states, “Money is so noble a medium that is does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality.” By this, Francisco intends to say that in times where the means of trade is force, money does not linger, rather it vanishes to find more peaceful societies where trade is mutually agreed upon. This use of personification is effective because it strengthens the point that money is not evil, because it would rather abandon the brutal society in which it currently resides, rather than compete with force, which Francisco and the protagonists of the book consider to be evil. It also strengthens the point he that makes more clear later in the speech, that the time to choose between peaceful human interaction and violence is limited, and if a choice is not made soon, and money is not seen as the noble means of trade it is, violence will ensue, and all deals will be conducted at the muzzle of a gun.
The Meaning of Money is driven highly by its logos. Given the point being made in the speech, it is proper that logos is the most prevalent of the three appeals. Without logos, the speech would be less effective in its claims, and would not be considered one of the most memorable moments of the book. One piece of text that provides a good example of the logos driven argument is when Francisco says, “When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others.” For one to understand this statement, they must think if they wish understand what Francisco means. His statement means that when a person receives money from an exchange with another person, the reason to take the money is so that that person can later on exchange that money for something else. Both parties in a deal involving money are better off than they were before the trade. The only reason to give up the money is to receive something of more value to a person than the money, likewise, for a person to give up a product, they must value the other person’s money more than the product. It is this type of profound, yet simple thinking that results from a logos driven argument, and drills the argument across that money is not evil, and a major reason why it not evil, is because it allows for both parties in a deal to benefit.
Another example of logos in the speech is in the sentence, “If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money?” This sentence’s meaning is that if a person has gained their wealth through inheritance and is just as virtuous and as noble the money they have inherited, they will do noble and virtuous things with the money, and it will take them where they wish. However, if a person is not noble and virtuous, they are not worthy of the money they have inherited, and the money will take the person to terrible places, not because that is the nature of money, but because it is the nature of the person in charge of the money. By asking the question, “Or did he corrupt his money?” at the end of the statement, it leads the reader to think about both the statement itself, and the information Francisco has presented about money earlier in the speech. While a person may not fully come to an agreement with the statements being made, if it causes thinking in the heads of people, it is effective.
While the logos in the argument helps to make it as strong as it is, pathos is also used effectively to persuade. Francisco said within the speech, “Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil.” Francisco believes that money is the binding agent of a peaceful society, and without it, nations fall to violence. His statement about running for one’s life when a person says that money is evil creates a sense of fear for the person who has had their mind opened due to the content of the speech. By using the word “life” he shows how dangerous he believes a man to be who does not approve of money and its nature.
Another pathos driven quote from the speech is directly at the end when Francisco says, “Blood, whips and guns−or dollars. Take your choice−there is no other−and your time is running out.” Blood, whips and guns are all meant to be together, and are one choice, while the other choice is dollars. One of the choices is violent and instills fear into the reader or listener, while the other choice, dollars, is a far less violent option, and if one were persuaded by the previous arguments, then he or she would see it as the better option. By also stating that there is no other choice, that refutes the question of other alternatives before it has the chance to be asked. The whole quote creates a sense of urgency with the way it is wrapped up. “Your time is running out” makes the reader aware that the time to make a decision is now, and if procrastination is used as an option, it will be too late. This method, while not as effective as logos, can be used to scare readers into the beliefs of the speech.
The Meaning of Money is both effective in spreading its message, while also being persuasive. It uses repetition to drill elements into the reader’s head, personification to create a more simplistic image, logos to appeal to more open minded readers, and a bit of pathos to scare some readers by creating a sense of urgency. All of these elements along with other elements the speech contains come together to form an effective speech with the point of proving that money is not the root of all evil. Rather it is a tool that does not corrupt people, instead, people corrupt it.
Ayn Rand in ‘Atlas Shrugged’ context
Ayn Rand, an influential American novelist and philosopher, endeavored to offer her readers a new perspective on life’s meaning. Growing up as a Jew in a communist country, Rand struggled to find her place in society and, therefore, matured as an anti-communist citizen in her move to the United States (Murray). In her works, she signifies self-importance, highlighting the wrongs of communism for overlooking citizens, and for acknowledging them as a collective rather than as individuals. Rand often caricatures communism as a means of preventing individuals from achieving their hopes and dreams. By conveying this message to her audience, the author encourages a society based on self-work, one that is capitalistic. Through this theme of self-work, Rand’s pieces incorporate her views on the importance of the struggle between the individual and society, calling attention to the enlightenment of self-learning.
Rand expresses her animosity towards communism in a variety of ways throughout her works. In Atlas Shrugged, the protagonists, the capitalists, escape communism to build a society revolving around their own economic views (Mallon). Here, Rand directly promotes individualism by presenting the happiness and success of these individuals in a society of self-growth, a characteristic that was not present in a communistic state. Equality 7-2521’s banishment as a result of learning and innovating in Anthem also shows the author’s powerful anti-communistic mind-set, as Rand supports individualism as a form of self-satisfaction and success (Cox). The main character’s despair in his society, much like the despair that appears in Atlas Shrugged, demonstrates the incapability of communism to permit individuals to reach their full potential and achieve a state of genuine contentment. Illuminating this thought, Rand’s characters rebel against society, finding in capitalism an escape from the seemingly evil world that is communism. Atlas Shrugged uses a relatively direct approach to promote capitalism, as the characters seek happiness through building a capitalistic economy while on strike against the world, creating their own utopian heaven (Clardy). This approach strikingly opposes communism, as Rand blatantly argues that capitalism is superior, providing the protagonists with a sense of joy that was not previously achieved. In Anthem, a more indirect approach for promoting capitalism is used as Rand displays Equality 7-2521’s happiness in a home where he can learn what he wants to learn, separating himself from society to flourish as a unique individual. Rand noticeably supports the notion that success, not only for society as a whole but for each individual as well, is achieved when each man works for himself. Her works illustrate that this goal can only be reached in a society where individuals are encouraged to work for themselves, one that is clearly not communistic.
In portraying her revulsion from communism, Rand argues that success and happiness sprout from self-learning. As stated in Atlas Shrugged, “Everything he needs or desires has to be learned, discovered and produced by him–by his choice, by his own effort, by his own mind (LaBlanc and Milne).” The author encourages individuals to pursue their dreams, but to do so alone. The quote clearly emphasizes “him,” but no one else. Growing up in a society based off of working for one’s brother, essentially sharing all the wealth, Rand rebelled against this seemingly absurd concept. Her characters do the same, questioning why they are not fulfilling their hopes and dreams. This thought was clearly at the root of her growing objectivist philosophy, which maintains that the sole purpose of life is to work towards one’s own self-happiness (Thomas). In Anthem, genius Equality 7-2521 is forced to learn in secret, as he is prohibited from doing so in the city’s House of Scholars. Yet, in his new home, he teaches himself to read and absorbs the meaning of the word “I”. Rand deepens her theme of self-learning in this novella by showing the self-satisfaction achieved by the protagonist upon learning to think for himself. After the time and dedication he puts into learning everything in his new library, he literally discovers himself as an individual, finally referring to himself as “I” rather than “we” (Cox). This mode of reference ties into Rand’s objectivist philosophy once again as she illuminates individual rights under a new light, promoting opportunities for everyone to learn, succeed, and attain full potential. By doing so, she further argues that laissez-faire capitalism is the only way these rights can be embodied, rendering the government uninvolved in the personal affairs of the people.
The struggle of individual versus society further conveys the author’s anti-communistic beliefs. This conflict escalates in Atlas Shrugged when protagonist John Galt rebels against the system of corruption that has taken over the world: communism. Through her anti-communistic sentiment intertwined with her objectivist philosophy, Rand intensifies Galt’s struggle, his condition of being the only outcast in society for favoring capitalist policies. Many other characters, who eventually end up siding with the willful protagonist, also feel as though they face society without support (LaBlanc and Milne). Although all these characters end up joining forces, Rand stresses that individuals face their own struggles alone, even if their neighbors go through the same processes. In the journey to individualism, Rand considers this personal battle an important step, one that teaches people how to help themselves rather than to rely on others. Equality 7-2521 faces a similar struggle in Anthem. Although other characters despise the extreme communist life-style they face, as is evident through the screams in their sleep, Equality 7-2521 is the only one to rebel. He runs away from civilization, reads books to educate himself, and discovers his own reflection in a mirror (Cox). Through this process, the protagonist educates himself not only about the world around him, but also about himself. Equality 7-2521’s seclusion grants him an opportunity to reflect on life, pondering who he truly is as a person, rather than his role as a member of a collective society. Rand makes it evident through both pieces of literature that the first step on the path to individualism is isolation. As they escape their respective communities, John Galt and Equality 7-2521 learn to appreciate their distinct transformations, introducing themselves to a society largely premised on working to fulfill the individual’s aspirations.
Ayn Rand’s powerful anti-communistic sentiment strongly impacts her writings, as she uses it as a form of obstruction in her character’s daily lives. Her common themes of individual versus society and the importance of self-work further highlight her promotion of capitalism as a means of achieving success and happiness. Her protagonists face their own individual struggles in which they are forced to learn how to work and fight for themselves, not their brothers. Rand’s rough childhood in a communistic society was a guiding factor in her objectivist philosophy, leading her to promote the pursuit of one’s own happiness. By shedding light on this inspiring viewpoint, Rand influences her readers to live life in just this manner and encourages them to build societies as different as possible from the communist system that she experienced.
Examining Art And Reason As Depicted In Atlas Shrugged
As Dagny enters Richard Halley’s valley cottage in the cool calm of the night, she is enveloped with music that hits her as a “symbol of moral pride” (717) This pride is not built on what the heart feels is valuable, but on what the mind knows to be of value. Richard Halley is a music composer, he is an artist, and yet he understands that “all work is creative work if done by a thinking man”(933). He approaches his art with the same moral productiveness as a businessman.
The act of playing his music and of Dagny experiencing it is “mutual trade for mutual profit” (717). Halley however explains to Dagny that when he plays for general audiences in the outside world, there is no reciprocal trade for his music: “I do not care to be admired causelessly, emotionally, intuitively, instinctively– or blindly.”(717) Halley’s work has typically been judged by unthinking men, who themselves know and produce very little and yet, Halley bemoans, it’s these very people who evaluate a man of the mind. The reason Halley had to leave the outside world and take his work with him is in essence why every member of John’s Gulch comes to live inside the valley.
For Halley, his art is a testament of his “capacity to see,” and his relentless “devotion to the pursuit of truth.”(718) Spontaneous invocations, platitudes and daydreaming cannot exist for the truth seeking artist, only through the laborious and “unrelenting strain upon one’s power of clarity” can the businessman and artist reach the summit of their mind potential.
Halley pursues his creations to their logical and brilliant end, but “the nature of the looter”(682) is to deny this process – the process of mental evolution, of identifying that which is real, sticking with it and nurturing the idea into thought. Dagny wonders why Halley doesn’t share his music genius with the world anymore but Halley explains clearly that the ordinary public believed they owned his talent and these “worshippers of zero”(937) could not fully grasp the totality of his work. Only when they were ready to embrace his work, were Halley’s efforts deemed successful. In effect, he had been giving his mind, and the mastered product of his mind, away for free, to people who had neither the rigour to comprehend it, nor the capability to exchange anything of substantial value.
Those without an understanding of genuine value cannot bestow their own ideas of worth on a creation, so the only thing they can do is to destroy it and debase it in accordance with their own decrepit soul. Galt proposes the notion to Halley that his “work is the purpose of [his] life”(934), in so much as what he does is an external exhalation of who he is: work is the branch, body the vessel of the life force and both are rooted in the capacity of the mind to seek the light of its own maturity and growth. Everyone who discovers the valley approaches their work and life with the same “mathematical precision” (719) – their ability relies on the logical calculation of their mind and their body is the reinforced effect of their mind. They are truly powerful in their efforts because of their unrelenting desire to seek that which is rational, to be “the man not only of self-made wealth, but…of self-made soul.”(934)
It is because of Halley’s “intransigent devotion to the pursuit of truth”(718) he explains to Dagny, that he walked away from the “life haters” and refused to allow their destruction of his highest moral code.
His thirst for knowledge and hunger for the truth, his desire to facilitate the expansion of his whole-self as a shining example of human achievement is how he hopes to build “his world in his own image” (725).
It is in this mental acceptance of the true nature of the looters that Galt finds him. Each character who lives in Galt’s Gulch had to uncover for themselves what they always knew inside: “Sacrifice could be proper only for those who have nothing to sacrifice” (942) Halley, like the others refused to sacrifice himself for looters who stood for nothing. Not being able to sustain their own irrational existence, they leached off the production of “men of ability”.
There is no “loophole in the law of causality”(935) Whether your work is painting, architecture, engineering or running a company, the magnitude of your thinking and the extent of your mind’s dimensions dictate your efficiency in any endeavour: “ability is quality and capacity is quantitive.” If you value that which is anti life, then you are paralyzed in rotted decay of weakness. Why are Halley and the others finally happy when they join John in the valley? It is because now they are truly free to have their work “without penalty or guilt”(935).
Halley tells Dagny that he created the “Concerto Deliverance” for John. Galt helped him define what none of them had previously managed to: the creed that was inside them all. Galt helped them to uncover the truth – something that he had fought himself to earn. Thus Halley’s “Concerto Deliverance”(683) is finally the trade for trade value he has been looking for.
Ayn Rand is able to brilliantly portray man’s motivation to leave the world of the creative dead. In the end, Dagny also joins them in the valley because she too realises that “the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader”(935).
Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged: 50th Anniversary Edition. New York. 1996. Print
A Declaration of Existentialism
Ayn Rand’s unflinching political confutation for socialism conveyed throughout her mighty work Atlas Shrugged is a passionate allegorical account regarding how one should exist only for the benefit of oneself. This idea is expressed through an assortment of Rand’s main characters, though none quite so explicitly as Hank Rearden. “The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!” In Rearden’s bold refutation of ‘public good’ at his trial, Rearden is dismissing the core ideology of socialism and declaring himself an existentialist member of society.
At the novel’s start, Hank Rearden is a simple man trying to make a name for himself in the metal industry so that he can support his family. He lives to content his unappeasable wife Lillian, an antagonist to the story’s existentialist themes, and finds no happiness in his interactions with her. We first understand Lillian’s main role as villainous wife when Rearden gifts her with the first piece of his metal crafted into a bracelet for her to wear. She dismisses his loving act, and this is the first instance where Rearden is seen as a lesser (41). Lillian’s main purpose in the novel is to help characterize Rearden’s conciliatory persona and demonstrate his initial inability to be egotistic. Selfishness, as viewed by Rand, is a positive trait that leads to the success in business and personal affairs. Rearden finally acts upon selfish desires when he falls in love with Dagny Taggart shortly after his wife’s discontent with his metal bracelet. The affair between Rearden and Dagny is selfish on both ends, but that is the reason why it makes them both so happy.
“I am proud that [Hank] has chosen me to give him pleasure and that it was he who had been my choice. It was not – as it is for most of you – an act of casual indulgence and mutual contempt. It was the ultimate form of our admiration for each other, with full knowledge of the values by which we made our choice…” (318).
In the above quote articulated by Dagny when referencing his relations with Hank Rearden, she explains how being with each other was each of their own individual choices. Rearden chose Dagny to pleasure himself and vice versa; there were no outside forces pressuring them together other than the pure admiration for one another that Dagny references. Through this, Rand is demonstrating that by disregarding the good of others and focusing on the pleasure of oneself, great things will emerge. Rearden does not understand this concept prior to his relationship with Dagny, but finally has an egotistical epiphany at his trial where he disputes the good of others and suggests existing for the good of himself.
Hank’s statement, “The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!” references the two coinciding themes of existentialism and egoism. The idea of existentialism, existing for oneself instead of for the greater good of others, is conveyed through several different outlets throughout Rand’s work. By supporting capitalism and shooting down communist principles, she expresses the importance of this theme. Public good, as Rand sees it, aims to work toward the greater benefit of a community by taking from others, while existentialism strives for the success of one’s self. This is key, as the looters take from those who are stronger. By boasting these words in such a public environment, the character experiences a shift where he goes from submission to the powerful figures that aim to control his success to breaking out and declaring his individualist existence. As his trial commences, the judge questions where Rearden’s absent defense is. Rearden replies, “I will not play the part of defending myself, where no defense is possible, and I will not simulate the illusion of dealing with a tribunal of justice” (442). With this statement, he is refusing to conform to the expectations of the government and society, proving this point by standing on his own in court. Although he realizes he alone cannot fight the power that the government will exert on him, he makes it very clear to the judge that he does not acknowledge nor believe in any of the principles for which he is being tried for. The purpose of the publicity of this declaration is to demonstrate his opposition to the principles of socialism in a manner that can be heard by all. This is Rand’s way of communicating her philosophy through this growing character.
Rand also develops the philosophies of egoism and reason through Hank Rearden. Rand once stated that an “individual should exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself” (Duignan). This goes hand in hand with the ideas of existentialism portrayed by Rearden as the novel progresses. Existentialism is the core concept of the valley many of the characters find themselves in climatically. In order to stay in the valley, an individual must pledge an oath stating “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine” (670). This captures the central idea of Hank’s quote, simply rephrased.
To conclude, Rearden’s dismissal of public good brings the novel to a climax point; this is where Hank declares his realization that he is living for himself, and not to please anyone, including the government and his dreadful wife Lillian. By Ayn Rand highlighting this outspoken epiphany, she is declaring her own beliefs encouraging capitalism and discouraging the idea that one must exist for the greater good of the community. After all of Rand’s awful experiences with communism, she is showing that being an existentialist is the only way to true success and happiness.
Art and Reason in Atlas Shrugged
As Dagny enters Richard Halley’s valley cottage in the cool calm of the night, she is enveloped with music that hits her as a “symbol of moral pride” (717) This pride is not built on what the heart feels is valuable, but on what the mind knows to be of value. Richard Halley is a music composer, he is an artist, and yet he understands that “all work is creative work if done by a thinking man”(933). He approaches his art with the same moral productiveness as a businessman.The act of playing his music and of Dagny experiencing it is “mutual trade for mutual profit” (717). Halley however explains to Dagny that when he plays for general audiences in the outside world, there is no reciprocal trade for his music: “I do not care to be admired causelessly, emotionally, intuitively, instinctively– or blindly.”(717) Halley’s work has typically been judged by unthinking men, who themselves know and produce very little and yet, Halley bemoans, it’s these very people who evaluate a man of the mind. The reason Halley had to leave the outside world and take his work with him is in essence why every member of John’s Gulch comes to live inside the valley.For Halley, his art is a testament of his “capacity to see,” and his relentless “devotion to the pursuit of truth.”(718) Spontaneous invocations, platitudes and daydreaming cannot exist for the truth seeking artist, only through the laborious and “unrelenting strain upon one’s power of clarity” can the businessman and artist reach the summit of their mind potential.Halley pursues his creations to their logical and brilliant end, but “the nature of the looter”(682) is to deny this process – the process of mental evolution, of identifying that which is real, sticking with it and nurturing the idea into thought. Dagny wonders why Halley doesn’t share his music genius with the world anymore but Halley explains clearly that the ordinary public believed they owned his talent and these “worshippers of zero”(937) could not fully grasp the totality of his work. Only when they were ready to embrace his work, were Halley’s efforts deemed successful. In effect, he had been giving his mind, and the mastered product of his mind, away for free, to people who had neither the rigour to comprehend it, nor the capability to exchange anything of substantial value.Those without an understanding of genuine value cannot bestow their own ideas of worth on a creation, so the only thing they can do is to destroy it and debase it in accordance with their own decrepit soul. Galt proposes the notion to Halley that his “work is the purpose of [his] life”(934), in so much as what he does is an external exhalation of who he is: work is the branch, body the vessel of the life force and both are rooted in the capacity of the mind to seek the light of its own maturity and growth. Everyone who discovers the valley approaches their work and life with the same “mathematical precision” (719) – their ability relies on the logical calculation of their mind and their body is the reinforced effect of their mind. They are truly powerful in their efforts because of their unrelenting desire to seek that which is rational, to be “the man not only of self-made wealth, but…of self-made soul.”(934)It is because of Halley’s “intransigent devotion to the pursuit of truth”(718) he explains to Dagny, that he walked away from the “life haters” and refused to allow their destruction of his highest moral code.His thirst for knowledge and hunger for the truth, his desire to facilitate the expansion of his whole-self as a shining example of human achievement is how he hopes to build “his world in his own image” (725). It is in this mental acceptance of the true nature of the looters that Galt finds him. Each character who lives in Galt’s Gulch had to uncover for themselves what they always knew inside: “Sacrifice could be proper only for those who have nothing to sacrifice” (942) Halley, like the others refused to sacrifice himself for looters who stood for nothing. Not being able to sustain their own irrational existence, they leached off the production of “men of ability”.There is no “loophole in the law of causality”(935) Whether your work is painting, architecture, engineering or running a company, the magnitude of your thinking and the extent of your mind’s dimensions dictate your efficiency in any endeavour: “ability is quality and capacity is quantitive.” If you value that which is anti life, then you are paralyzed in rotted decay of weakness. Why are Halley and the others finally happy when they join John in the valley? It is because now they are truly free to have their work “without penalty or guilt”(935).Halley tells Dagny that he created the “Concerto Deliverance” for John. Galt helped him define what none of them had previously managed to: the creed that was inside them all. Galt helped them to uncover the truth – something that he had fought himself to earn. Thus Halley’s “Concerto Deliverance”(683) is finally the trade for trade value he has been looking for.Ayn Rand is able to brilliantly portray man’s motivation to leave the world of the creative dead. In the end, Dagny also joins them in the valley because she too realises that “the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader”(935).Works Cited Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged: 50th Anniversary Edition. New York. 1996. Print