The Fountainhead By Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand brand of conservative philosophy's ideology and principles is called objectivism. The Fountainhead serves as a type of conservative treatise of this philosophy.

Ayn Rand is perhaps the most famous and greatest female philosopher of the Twentieth Century, perhaps even of all times. She is the most widely read. Rands brand of conservative philosophy's ideology and principles can be found in her novel The Fountainhead, which serves as a type of conservative treatise. Rand expresses her views through a series of characters. By comparing and contrasting the approach to life and basic motivations of the characters Howard Roark and Henry Cameron, B. Peter Keating and Ellsworth Toohey, C. Gail Wynand and Dominique Francon, we get a clear picture of Rand's philosophical view.

Howard Roark is the hero and main character of the novel. After being fired from his job at the Stanton Institute of Technology over a disagreement about architecture with the administration, Roark refuses to give in to life and quit. Daniel Aaron in an article that appeared in Partisan Review, "Remarks on a Best Seller," says of Roark: He cuts through the obstacles of authority, institutions, society, convention as easily as Superman, to whom he bears an esoteric relationship, and sustained by nature and by a high-powered unabashed ego, he ultimately achieves an unsought-for success. Indeed Roark is so omnipotent, his unblushing indifference to the most formidable barriers is so colossal, that Miss Rand must work very hard to set up counterforces which will even temporarily stall her juggernaut. (Aaron, Daniel, "Remarks on a Best Seller. "Partisan Review, Vol. XIV, No 4, Fall 1947, PP 442-445)

Roark is motivated by the goal of perfectionism. He wishes to be the best he can be, and refuses to allow life's trials and pitfalls interfere with his goal. He is not motivated by money, but is rewarded with wealth for his hard work. Just like Roark, Henry Cameron is motivated by perfection. He abhors shoddy work, and like Roark, tries to create building of the highest quality. The two work together on numerous failed projects. However, unlike Roark, Cameron's approach to life does not allow him to roll with the punches of failure. The failures eat inside him. He is not as strong as Roark. The contrast between the two reveals Roark's admirable qualities, and shows Rand's philosophical view. She believes a person should strive for excellence and not fear failure for doing so.

Ellsworth Toohey is a conniving newspaper journalist who:

conspires to paralyze society by preaching the vicious doctrine of self-abnegation and by deliberately enshrining mediocrity. Toohey pulls down genius, exalts "the second handers" (Miss Rand's term for the timid, second-rate group men) and almost perverts America with his gospel of sentimental altruism. (Aaron, Daniel, "Remarks on a Best Seller. "Partisan Review, Vol. XIV, No 4, Fall 1947, PP 442-445)

Toohey is the type of man that exalts the lazy B. Peter Keating's of the world instead of the strong, stand-up type of men like Roark. Keating is a lazy man, who would prefer to have others do his work for him. He is unmotivated, except by greed. Toohey is motivated by the goal to promote inferior work. He wants the masses to be equal, no matter who works the hardest and produces the best work. It is the Toohey's of the world that create and give hope to the Keating's of the world by exalting the "second handers" instead of praising and rewarding the intricate and hard work of the people like Roark and Cameron.

In spite of being in love with Howard Roark, Dominique Francon marries first B. Peter Keating and then C. Gail Wynand. Dominique is motivated by her love for Howard Roark. She marries Keating and Wynand in an attempt to understand Roark. Karen Horney says,

By various experiences with men, she strives to humiliate herself in order to experience some of the pain she believes Roark is feeling. Sex for her is a degrading experience, a subduing one because carried on with inferior men. . . . The obtaining of satisfaction by submersion in misery is an expression of the general principle of finding satisfaction by losing the self in something greater, by dissolving the individuality, by getting rid of the self with its doubts, conflicts, pains, limitations, and isolation. (Horney Karen, Qtd. in Deane, Paul, "Ayn Rand's Neurotic Personalities of Our Times." Revue des langues, vivantes, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2, 1970, pp. 125-99)

She constantly strives to break Roark and to squash is ideas. She does this because she believes the only way she can gain his love is to remove his obsession for work. If she brings him down to the level of Gail Wynand and Peter Keating, she can dissolve his individuality. The name of Dominique's husband Gail Wynand's boat is "I Do." Wynand is self-centered and egotistical. Unlike Dominique who is full of self-doubt, Wynand is motivated by his ego, and his narcissistic belief he can do anything, and knows everything. Wynand loses his job at both the newspaper and the grocery store. He arrogantly tries to offer new ideas to his bosses. Wynand's ideas have merit, but they are offered with such a narcissistic attitude, his bosses are insulted. He talks down to his bosses as if they are inferior, and when they refuse to listen he gets angry and loses his job. "He has more or less contempt for all persons who agree with him or give in to his wishes" ("The Neurotic Personality of Our Times," Qtd. in Deane, Paul, "Ayn Rand's Neurotic Personalities of Our Times." Revue des langues, vivantes, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2, 1970, pp. 125-99). In essence, Dominique and Wynand are neurotic opposites, motivated by different goals, and with contrasting approaches to life.

Rand rejects the neurosis of her various characters and offers an alternative in Roark. In C. Gail Wynand, Rand rejects narcissism. In B. Peter Keating she rejects socialism and it's idea of human conformity; the idea that all men have equal worth regardless of their abilities or willingness to work. In Dominique Francon, she rejects self-doubt. In Henry Cameron, Rand rejects fear and timid personality. A person needs to be confident like Roark without the arrogance of Wynand. Roark represents the type of person Rand believes society should emanate. He works hard, and strives for altruism through his dedication to the perfection of his work. Roark refuses to accept shoddy work. Rand is suggesting that shoddy work is what is wrong with society. People need to take pride in their work, and for this behavior and attitude they will be rewarded. Greed and wealth are not the goals society should seek. Wealth is important, but wealth comes from the production of good work. Rand is offering her view of an altruistic utopian society, a society that is best for all, not the few.

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