The Fountainhead is a novel of gigantic proportions. It deals with great talent and great mediocrity, with great love and great hatred, with great ambition and equally great complacence. It unpretentiously chooses to steer clear of the much hyped common man, with his commonplace dreams and aspirations.
The theme of The Fountainhead can be summarized in the famous line by the author-“man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress”. The novel exalts egotism, which is generally looked upon in our world with great dislike. The protagonist, Howard Roark, is a man used by the author to exemplify this philosophy. He is a man of outstanding genius whose only fault seems to be that the world is not ready for him. This man’s genius remains unrecognized by the society, he is shunned and ridiculed, but no number of attempts to break him, to force him to confine his work within the parameters laid by the society succeed. The inborn talent in this man and the fountainhead of inspiration in his soul cannot be restrained by any force on earth.
Individualism is the doctrine on which the novel is based.” No man can live for another”. If a man has talent, and recognises the potential within him, he has the right to be an egotist. Egotism must not be equated with false pride. A man who believes in himself acquires the strength to combat the whole world. Such is the case of Howard Roark. What puts him on a plane much higher than every other character in this novel is the sheer power and self conviction he exudes in the face of the gravest adversity. Howard Roark is as powerful as he is not because he has any control over the society or the minds of others, but because …
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…redible strength can never be destroyed .he may physically be open to destruction, but the fountainhead -of inspiration within him and his amazing self-conviction can never be shattered.
Works Cited and Consulted
Berliner, Michael S., ed. Letters of Ayn Rand. By Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton, 1995.
Branden, Barbara. The Passion of Ayn Rand: A biography. New York: Doubleday, 1986a
Branden, Nathaniel. My Years with Ayn Rand. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999.
Garmong, Dina. Personal interview. 2 Nov. 1999.
Peikoff, Leonard. The Philosophy of Objectivism, A Brief Summary. Stein and Day, 1982.
Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. New York: Plume, 1994.
The Ayn Rand Institute. “A Brief Biography of Ayn Rand” [Online] available www.aynrand.org/aynrand/biography.html, 1995
Walker, Jeff. The Ayn Rand Cult. Carus Publishing Company, 1999
The Ideal Man Defined in The Fountainhead
The Ideal Man Defined in The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand has based her novel, The Fountainhead on the projection of an ideal man. It is the portrayal of a moral ideal as an end in itself. She has placed ‘man-worship’ above all and has brought out the significance of the heroic in man. Man-worshippers are those who see man’s highest potential and strive to actualize it. They are dedicated to the exaltation of man’s self esteem and the sacredness of his happiness on earth.
The Fountainhead has brought out the greatness of man – the capacity, the ability, the integrity and honesty in man – as an ideal to be achieved. It is based on the idea of romanticism which means that “it is concerned not with things as they are but with things as they might be and ought to be.”
The Fountainhead is the story of an architect, Howard Roark-, whose genius and integrity were as unyielding as granite and of his desperate battle waged against the conventional standards of society. It is a tale of hatred and denunciation unleashed by the society against a great innovator; of a man who has great conviction in himself; of a person who believes that man’s first right on earth is the right of the ego and that man’s first duty is the duty to himself, a man who redefines egoism. An egoist, in the absolute sense, is not the man who sacrifices others to self. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner. Roark doesn’t function through others. He needs no other men. His primary goal is to achieve perfection. He is a man with uncompromising values and integrity.
In order to make her philosophy clearer, Ayn Rand has simultaneously given an account of people like Peter Keating and Ellsworth M. Toohey. Peter Keating – a man who cheats and lies but preserves a respectable front. He knows himself to be dishonest but others think he is honest and he derives his self-respect from that. His aim in life is greatness – in other people’s eyes. Other people dictated his conviction which he did not hold but he was satisfied that others believed he held them. Others were his prime concern. He didn’t want to be great but to be thought great. He borrowed from others to make an impression on others.