An Essay on Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged was her last fiction work, which touched upon numerous philosophical issues that were urgent during the hard economic situation in the USA. The novel was published in 1957 and became popular due to its representation of current situation and the author’s reflections on the causes of the present problems. Ayn Rand was greatly interested in philosophical issues and searched for the roots of problems from the philosophical point of view. She believed it to be her greatest work.

The main theme of Atlas Shrugged is the strike of the mind. The problem of the brain drain makes the development of society impossible, without mentally alert people, young inventors and businesslike people the economy of any country is doomed to the decay. The author stresses the idea that it is mind that rules the world and leads to the progress. This statement runs counter to the popular thought that labor is the power that gives the prosperity. However, labor is just a means towards this end, it executes the projects of the mind. In addition to the topic of the importance of the mind, Ayn Rand develops the problem of the integration of the mind and body. The idea that mind and body are opposed, and specifically their desires, is rejected in the novel. On the contrary, Rand accentuates the importance of the integration of the mind and body. The main character, Dagny Taggart, expresses this opinion of the author. She is proud of her mind and her body and does not differentiate the value of her mental and physical aspirations.

Taking into the account this position of the author, it is easier to understand all the peculiarities and the undercurrents of the hard struggle of entrepreneurs. Dagny Taggart does her best to save the company that belonged to several generations of her family. Under the lack of innovators and the decline of the industry it is very difficult to preserve the company. Together with other characters, Hank Rearden in particular, she tries to find the person who is responsible for so apparent disappearance of the leading mind and, on the other hand, the inventor of the motor, working on the static electricity, that they found on an abandoned factory. Within the whole novel Dagny has to deal with looters. Sometimes it is difficult for her to distinguish a looter from a person who is really interested in the destiny of the company. The competition is hard and only the strongest and the shiftiest people can survive there.

Playing a leading role in the process, government often acts unfairly. It tries to manipulate others and even uses blackmail in order to subordinate the characters and to take control over the situation in the country. With the development of events, Dagny learns who the mysterious destroyer and at the same time the inventor is.

John Galt turns out to be the person who is principal in the whole story and is presented as an ideal person in all respects.

He is both the one who organized the strike of minds and the one who invented that particular motor. John Galt presents a special interest to readers as, being, in fact, the main hero, he is unknown to readers for the most part of the book. Still he rules all the events of the novel, he is the organizer and the leader of the strike that becomes so significant for America. John Galt is Prometheus who changed his mind. After centuries of being torn by vultures in payment for having brought to men the fire of the gods, he broke his chains and he withdrew his fire until the day when men withdraw their vultures. (Rand 569) By these words one of the characters highlights the role of industrialists who improved people’s life but got nothing but censure.

Under such situation and circumstances the episode of the destruction of the Phoenix-Durango Railroad serves as a bright example of the methods of looters. The road is destructed according to the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule, adopted by the National Alliance of Railroads. For Dagny it is another ordeal as she risks to lose important clients. In front of her eyes people betray her and go across to the enemies. The author aimed to show the possible inconsistence of the opinion of the majority. The erroneous belief that what the majority thinks is always right leads to mistakes that result in the decline of the society, especially when the majority pursues short-term objects. The Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule was just a bright example of a similar decision of the majority. However, it was also a logical result of the socialist economy, rejecting capitalism.

In the novel, with the help of different characters Ayn Rand represents various philosophical trends existing in the world. Her characters follow their own principles and adhere to particular opinions. It seems natural, however world philosophical conceptions lay under it. Rand expressed first of all her own thoughts. For example, the works of Aristotle had a great influence on Rand and her philosophy of objectivism. People should take the reality objectively, to identify it as it is without inventing another reality. Galt and his supporters perceive the world rationally while their enemies attempt to distort the reality and convince others that it is the right way. Rand’s thoughts, provided by these theories are visible in the words of John Galt in his radio speech towards Americans: Centuries ago, the man who was no matter what his errors the greatest of your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself. You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification. (Rand 859)  With the help of the image of a Greek mythic hero Atlas Rand showed the tortures and unlucky destiny of American industrials who have to work hard and at the same time be the source of income of looters, who parasitize on them.

To make a conclusion, it is obvious that Ayn Rand made a great contribution both to the American and world literature by her novel Atlas Shrugged. Being based on deep psychological reflections and philosophical concepts, the book presents the critical situation in America. Hard work of industrialists for the sake of people does not paid in a proper way, numerous volunteers are found who try to make good at their expense. The role of industrialists is appreciated properly neither by people nor by the government. Thus author attempts to analyze the roots of these problems and to show the flaws of the economy of that time.

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