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Objectivism in The Fountainhead

Objectivism in The Fountainhead

Philosophy demands literature that can abet the understanding of social views. Without reflective literature, man cannot begin to comprehend the essential messages behind philosophy. One such philosophy, objectivism, is represented exceptionally by the novel, The Fountainhead. Through the use of compelling dialogue, Ayn Rand reveals her own feelings towards objectivism, and her thoughts towards conformity and independence. The interpretations and the implications of several of the quotes within The Fountainhead accurately depict the essence of objectivism and encourages the opposition of conventional standards through the embodiment of the uncompromising innovator “standing against the world.”

Society dictates that there will be those that follow and those that will lead the followers. Peter Keating is one that adheres to conformity; a man of little independent thought, a follower. Howard Roark, on the other hand, is a man aspiring to achieve a level of complete and utter independence from traditional principles. One telling passage occurs in a scene where Keating and Roark are discussing architecture.

Keating: “How do you always manage to decide?”

Roark: “How can you let others decide for you?”

As two men on the extreme sides of conformity and independence, it is hard for Keating to understand how someone could be so sure of himself, whereas it is incomprehensible for Roark to believe that Keating could have so little self-assurance and such a lack of resolve regarding the decisions he chooses to make. In this r…

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… is most definately correct in saying that independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. A conformist has low value because of his refusal to jump the bounds of submission; the conformist would never experiment for the sake of self- improvement. This would not be looked upon well by other.

Conformity is governed by the laws of compromise, egotism, productivity, and value. A conformist must be willing to sacrifice his philosophies simply because it does not correspond with the attitude of the clique. Independence, on the other hand relies on only one thing: the performance of the individual. A conformist must be satisfied with the performance of the group. The independent individual has himself to blame when events turn for the worse, and he solely reeps the benifit of his own performance.

Use of Storm Imagery in Villette and Frankenstein

The Romantic and Victorian periods saw a flowering of imagery: for the Romantics, because it often proved the best way to express their vague philosophical yearnings and ideas; for the Victorians, because societal taboos all too often prevented discussion of topics unless they were “coded” in acceptable images. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Charlotte Brontké’s Villette, despite springing from these two different periods of literature, share a type of symbol. In each “bildingsroman,” storms provide a dominant textual metaphor for violent and confusing turning points in the main character’s development. For Lucy Snowe, storms usher her along in her development from shy, frigid nursemaid to more open, self-sufficient school-mistress: though fearful and traumatic, the storms, and experiences, tend to mold and enhance her personality. But for Victor Frankenstein, storms punctuate his relationship with his horrid creation, and show his steady dissolution towards tragedy and attempted revenge.

Villette practically opens with a storm: after the initial exposition, Lucy tells of how “it was a wet night; the rain lashed the panes, and the wind sounded angry and restless” on the evening when Polly Home first arrived. This admittedly minor change in her life still presages, in its stormy accompaniment, the larger turning-points in her life that storms are to indicate. Indeed, Lucy’s stay with Polly and the Brettons is immediately followed by her famous and unexplained “shipwreck” image that begins Chapter IV. Whether it represents forced incest or merely financial reversals and deaths in the family, it is this storm which produces much of the cool reserve and surfeit of reason that troubles Lucy through the rest of the novel….

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…xiles at Home: A Story of Literature in Nineteenth Century America. Lanham: University Press of America, Inc., 1984.

Mellor, Anne K. Mary Shelley. Her Life, her Fiction, her Monsters. Methuen. New York, London, 1988.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein New American Library edition, 1983.

Patterson, Arthur Paul A. Frankenstein Study.

You may wish to place the following quotes at the beginning of the paper for a stronger impact.

“These strange accents in the storm — this restless, hopeless cry — denote a coming state of the atmosphere unpropitious to life.” (Bronté, p. 46)

“This almost miraculous change of inclination and will was… the last effort made by the spirit of preservation to avert the storm that was even then hanging in the stars and ready to envelop me.” (Shelley, p. 41)

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