Honors American Lit Comp
20 April 2014
The Strength For Individualism
Ayn Rand uses the themes of individualism and collectivism to demonstrate the shaping of society and what gives it its balance. Howard Roark and Lois Cook may both be individuals although in opposite ways.
Individualism is derived from the natural tendencies and desires that one is born with. However, society is made of collectivists which makes individualism out of the ordinary. Society is shaped by the ideas of an individual and then supported by the collectivists.
Lois Cook relies on society so that she can maintain herself as an individualist. She is a nonconformist writer that uses the help of an architectural critic, Ellsworth Toohey to gain respect for her work and ideas. She intentionally goes out of her way to be an individualist by searching for the opposite or unseen ideas of society. In the beginning, she writes a book that proves her to be a true individualist. However, the influence of fame pushes her from being a creator of ideas to a creator of destruction.
After her novel is published, Lois Cook becomes known as “the greatest literary genius since Goethe.” (232) She then recognizes the respect people have for her and suddenly wants to be a “god”, a divine superior image in the eyes of others. Instead of formulating her own ideas like before, she takes society’s and goes against them. For example, when she hires Peter Keating to be her architect, she recommends that her buildings be “ugly” (241) and not a “commonplace.” (241) Therefore rather than giving her own individualistic ideas, she asks plainly to go against society’s to maintain her image of being unique. She also takes advantage of the grasp she has over other’s thoughts to make bad things, not so bad. When she is judging a newly written play, she is satisfied because the play is “so awful its [a] wonderful” chance for her to twist people’s minds into thinking its a good one. Her...
Cited: Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. New York: Signet, 1943. Book.
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