The Fountainhead Essay - Critical Evaluation

Ayn Rand

Critical Evaluation

Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged (1957) as a more complete exposition of the principles and ideas espoused in The Fountainhead. Both novels illustrate her philosophy of positive rational egoism, morality based on self-interest rather than on compassion for others. The Fountainhead’s heroes, including Howard Roark, Dominique Francon, and, eventually, Gail Wynand, stand for their principles and refuse to conform. Wynand at first tries to offer what people want in his newspaper but later refuses to submit to Toohey and others, who want to promote the ideas of selfless service to others and lack of personal responsibility. Toohey and Keating are the primary antagonists. Toohey appears noble in his deflection of attention from himself; however, he seeks absolute power through manipulation of public opinion. He tells Halsey that people should not think; they should merely believe and serve others. Keating represents conformity for its own sake and pandering to popular opinion, values Rand clearly opposes.

As in Atlas Shrugged, the heroes are attractive: tall, physically fit, with strong faces. Roark and Dominique Francon receive glowing descriptions of their physical beauty. Roark’s ideals are clear; Francon’s are somewhat more puzzling. Her short speeches describing her goals are unclear, perhaps as Rand intended. Francon claims to admire perfection, but at the same time she hates it because it is not appreciated by others; she buys artwork and destroys it.

The Fountainhead is a sweeping...

(The entire section is 636 words.)