The Importance of Self-Esteem in The Fountainhead

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Ayn Rand propagated her philosophy of Objectivism through her book The Fountainhead, and Howard Roark, the hero of the novel, is seen as a personification of her ideals. The idea of selfishness being a vice is refuted, and altruism is seen as a device to reduce humanity into collective mediocrity. The essential difference between the heroes and the villains in the novel is that, as opposed to the villains, the heroes possess self-esteem; because of this, they retain their individuality, and do not degenerate into inconspicuousness in the sea of humanity. They place themselves above everyone and everything else, and achieving their own personal happiness with rationality as their guide is the sole purpose of their lives. The villains, on the other hand, live by the ideas of altruism and collectivism. They undermine the importance of the individual as opposed to the majority. They possess no sense of self-worth, and are reduced to a condition in which, in the words of Roark, "they have no self." Ayn Rand thus rejects the claim that it is honourable to live for others or for society. Howard Roark, the hero of the novel, is the embodiment of objective principles. He lives in his 'pinnacle of loneliness' with his own happiness as his only motivation. Neither does he sacrifice himself for others, nor does he sacrifice others to himself, but works for his rational self-interest. Roark reveres his ego, and refuses to be broken down by those who want him to compromise on his integrity. He believes that the motivation to think comes from the ego, as the mind is an attribute to the individual -- there can be no 'collective thought'. Therefore, every creator or achiever is a person who lives for himself. His relations with other... ... middle of paper ... ...himself to the things the mob ran. Wynand admires Roark, who manages to retain his individuality against the rest of the world. The heroes of The Fountainhead possess self-esteem while the villains lack it. In Howard Roark's words: "If one doesn't respect oneself, one can have neither love nor respect for others." Works Cited and Consulted Berliner, Michael S., ed. Letters of Ayn Rand. By Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton, 1995. Branden, Nathaniel. My Years with Ayn Rand. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 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

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