Posted at 11.29.2018
Ayn Rand was created on the 2nd of February, 1905 in Soviet Russia. She was born as Alisa Zinov yevna Rosenbaum. She died on the 6th of March, 1982. She was a novelist, philosopher, playwright and screenwriter. She was passionately into politics and much more so after the start of the Russian revolution. Once the Bolshevik party arrived to power in Russia, they nationalized a major chunk of her father's assets which reduced her father's financial assets considerably. Since that time Rand staunchly believed in Capitalism and the influence of this belief has been observed in most of her books like the Fountainhead.
Ayn Rand graduated from the Petrograd University with the best honors ever sold and Philosophy. She moved to Chicago in 1925 to become a screenwriter and had her plays staged on Broadway in 1935-36. Her first book, We the Living was written in 1933 and it was published by Macmillan Publishers in the United States of America in 1936. She started out working on The Fountainhead in 1938. It had been published by Bobbs-Merill in 1943. Atlas Shrugged, her other major work, was published in 1957.
Ayn Rand was an integral part of the modern amount of writing. That period was a period of great sexual repression for ladies. Despite all of that, the characters in her books were brave, bold and fearless. They defied convention and stuck to what they thought was right and moral. The philosophy propagated throughout all of Ayn Rand's books is of "Objectivism". Briefly, it says that anybody, system or social structure that blocks someone's freedom or talent is evil. The Fountainhead was the foremost embodiment of Objectivism.
This book appeals to me because Ayn Rand is a revolutionary female author who has truly gone against convention of her time. She has shown a lot of courage and way more, steel to use the sort of stand that she has taken. The female characters in her books, like Dominique Francon(The Fountainhead) and Dagny Taggart (Atlas Shrugged) were extremely powerful, resourceful and symbolic for freedom for womankind. The characters that she built then have stood the test of time and their value systems and personalities are relevant and appeal to audiences of today's times as well. The type of Dominique Francon is made in a manner that reflects an unbiased and powerful woman, and even yet, some of her actions appear to be driven totally by dependency. The intimate scene between Howard Roark and Dominique Francon is often termed by feminists as rape. That notion is a matter of great debate throughout readers and critics.
Ayn Rand has paid minute attention in constructing the feminine characters of her publication. Even the minor characters have been designed with the plot of the story in mind apart from asserting her views about women and life of women. Her women maintain one steady stance throughout the book. Their characters do not fluctuate or change. They can be stable in their own ways. The better women characters are shown to be individualistic and ones who stand in addition to the crowd. Where as, the less powerful characters are been shown to be collectivist and conforming to tradition, general belief and the types who not oppose the state of things.
Mrs. Louisa Keating is shown to be a self sufficient woman that has raised her only child based on whatever little income she could accumulate. She has worked very difficult in her life but it has never had any kind of direction. She's one son, Peter Keating. He's the complete and soul of her life. Most of her ambition is directed into making him successful, at any cost. She propels him into taking up architecture with subtle manipulation. Peter Keating has been conditioned into introjecting Mrs. Keating's thought process as his own thoughts. So when she said that fine art is not meant for him and this architecture is a more respectable and safe field, he accepted that point of view and convinced himself that it was his own. He internally mocked himself at ever having considered artwork as a career option. Another instance is where she moves together with Peter Keating into his NY apartment. Despite the fact that Keating is skeptical about this, he doesn't argue. Simply because he knows that he will lose the argument to her manipulation. She didn't approve of Keating's relationship with Catherine. Although she didn't mention Catherine by name, she talked to no end of men who have had their careers ruined because of falling deeply in love with the wrong girl. She felt no guilt for such atrocities as she considered them to be needed for her son's wellbeing. Here, Rand applies another stereotype which says that girls are meddlesome by nature. Despite having such power, Mrs. Keating is been shown to be of any collectivist mentality. She is been shown to be the type who relies on other people, which is being a stereotypical feminine quality, is been shown to be weak.
Catherine Halsey is Peter Keating's fiancee in the story. She is shown to have a single minded approach to life. She has only one aim in life: to get married to and settle down with Peter Keating. She is a simple girl, with simple value systems and in want of a straightforward life. She actually is neither individualistic and neither collectivist. She is like clay, that could be molded as needed. Her uncle and famous writer, Ellsworth Monkton Toohey manipulates her into the collectivist culture with his present of lucid yet convoluted speech. She readily accepts this conversion to fill the void left by Peter Keating and his betrayal of her. She actually is deeply hurt by the turn of events. Ellsworth Toohey takes good thing about the situation to make her into a small replica of himself. This way, Rand demonstrates women are fragile and can be easily manipulated. While speaking with Keating, Catherine says, ". . and here I am, helping him, me, just nobody. ". This line plainly points to her low self-confidence. Hence she is manipulated easily by her uncle Toohey.
Dominique Francon, is projected as a character in complete contrast to all the other female characters in the book. She is been shown to be strong, fiercely independent and extremely individualistic. She understands human potential and respects it to the highest degree. She is at one level very cold and rational and at another level absolutely confused about her love life. Even with her female protagonist, Rand throws in the stereotype that ladies lose their head when they fall in love. Domique's strength of spirit and the direction towards which it is channelized make her a perverse unusual woman. She believes that Howard Roark shouldn't succeed at life because the earth doesn't deserve someone like him. But how she actually is permitted to judge that is not justified any place in the book. She makes a lot of judgments during the book that happen to be taken to be facts with no evidence or backing. She is a very forceful woman whose words have a great impact on the masses. And yet, she doesn't fight for what's right because she is hopeless about Howard Roark's victory.
The main characters of the book, i. e. Howard Roark and Dominique Francon have been given no sentimental qualities. They are really cold and precise, almost like machines. Their reasoning is very individualistic and sure. Howard Roark has been given the quality of not being able to understand human emotion. He is very good with work but very bad at interpersonal relationships. Dominique Francon on the other hand is afraid of losing her freedom and therefore stays from any kind of attachment. Sentimentalism is seen to be always a very feminine quality and hence is manifested only in the weaker characters or antagonists of the book. Peter Keating, Catherine Halsey and Mrs. Keating, all have moments of sentimentalism.
"The mad woman in the attic: The ladies writers and the 19th century literary imagination" by Gilbert and Gubar was a report which said that, "Women writers need especially to conciliate a suspicious and largely hostile antagonistic patriarchal culture. " Techniques of concealment and evasion concentrate on the "madwoman". This madness or frustration that Dominique expresses on the world is concealed by Ayn Rand in her own life. Dominique's detachment from the globe for the sake of freedom is mirrored in Rand's own troubled relationship with Nathaniel Branden.
There are extensive socio-economic constructs in the book that adhere to the patriarchal structure of society. All of the major businesses are owned by males. Francon & Heyer, The Banner, Wynand industries, Henry Cameron's architectural firm and Howard Roark's firm are all owned by males. When talking of Guy Francon, the book says, "His clothes displayed an artist's infinite attention to details. He wished, as he descended the steps, that this were a co-educational school". The idea process of Guy Francon reflects the idea procedure for Ayn Rand in her regret about education not being made freely open to girls. Howard Roark is shown as supreme in the book. Dominique Francon is shown only as a foil to his creativity. It is because she appreciates him so greatly do we realize his talent.
The most debatable topic from a feminist viewpoint in the whole book would be the intimate scene between Howard Roark, a construction worker and Dominique Francon, heir to the Francon & Heyer firm. It takes place in chapter 2 of part 2 of the book. The moment Roark lays eyes on Dominique, he talks about her as if he owns her. He enters her house, grabs her roughly and has sex with her like "a master taking shameful, contemptuous possession" of a slave and then leaves with out a word.
Because Dominique had extremely high psychological defenses erected, she had lost all capacity to feel emotion. She could feel only indifference. Any kind of gesture, friendly or fiendish which managed to get in touch with her was perceived as a threat. Thus, although she wished to, she cannot relate to anyone. Howard Roark reached out to her in a way no person else had. He understood her to be exactly who she is. Any less of the gesture than violent sex could have met with cold indifference from Dominique. Roark did precisely what was needed to shake her out of her shell. For the very first time, she felt the nice discomfort that excitement provides.
Ayn Rand, in the book says, "She fought as an animal. But she made no sound. She did not want to demand help". Also, "the master taking shameful, contemptuous possession of a slave was the sort of rapture she wanted. These 2 quotes together explain why the incident cannot be called rape but only an act of consensual sex, albeit violent.
The Fountainhead is exultation to feminism. It talks very frankly of raw emotion that every woman feels. It does away with a lot of stereotypes and then hold the freedom to look at the man-woman relationship without constraints. We can conclude confidently that Rand has successfully managed to draw out new possibilities. It is an extremely interesting book to read from a feministic perspective.