Atlas Shrugged, By Ayn Rand Essay

1311 words - 5 pages

A number of characters very early on in the story of Atlas Shrugged are obviously concerned with the concept of goodness and what qualities constitute a good person and one that fails to meet this definition. It is evident at times through the author’s sarcasm although these characters are obsessed with vocalizing their opinions that their ideas of good are not on the mark. In fact, their drive to talk incessantly resolves nothing and devalues the meaning of almost every word. This same group of people hold to the philosophy that there are no absolutes and that no one is really right or wrong, as there is always some middle or “grey” area.
The self proclaimed “enlightened” person’s view of goodness included mainly those things which one is supposed to feel from the heart. Some of these were articulated as: self sacrifice, brotherly love, unselfishness, self denial and the value of feelings over thoughts. A good person in their eyes would enslave himself to this ideal because it was for the good of “the people”. While this is the vocal’s ideal not all of these people who subscribe to these beliefs. James Taggert for example, did not give up all his wealth for the good of the people; he believed this, but that was for others to do. Merely because he married a shop-girl that came from nothing, this action does not equate the “brotherly love” he expects from someone like Henry Rearden. She was Jim’s accessory to flaunt the notion that he was more enlightened than his friends. The hypocrisy continues when Lillian Rearden approached Taggert to persuade him to stop her divorce from Henry Rearden and one of her pleas was due to her inevitable poverty. Taggert was offended that she would even speak of such matters since this type of character only understands how to destroy, take, re-distribute and reallocate wealth as opposed to creating it. Not only were they not the ones who were expected to sacrifice, they were also the ones that it was not to be spoken of their being involved in it, reality is vulgar.
Goodness explained by John Galt in his three hour appeal to the public pertains to virtues such as purpose, earning, honesty, happiness, ability, justice, rationality, life, self worth, responsibility and the mind. His belief is founded on rationality and life. “Life is the reward of virtue-and happiness is the goal and reward of life.” Conversely, those that do not believe in achieving happiness do not want to live and are practicing self dillusion. Such persons that do not want to live are those that are the “enlightened”, “they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they desire nothing, they hate existence, and they keep running, each trying not to learn that the object of his hatred is himself”. One might claim that Galt’s version of self esteem is incorrect according to Christian teachings; this is not the case, the Golden Rule teaches us to do to treat others as we want to be treated-without...

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