Fountainhead By Marianna Sheedy Essay

1445 words - 6 pages

When one no longer relies upon society to formulate their most basic moral principles, the result is individualism. In Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, this concept of virtuous individualistic thinking is advocated through her characters as well as the roles they play within the collectivist, altruistically-dominated world they exist in. On the surface, architect Howard Roark and author Lois Cook both seemingly demonstrate individualistic qualities through their condemnation of society. However, if one were to look at the cores of their personas, he or she would find that they are indeed polar opposites.
Lois Cook is nothing but an individualist in disguise. Throughout the novel, she ...view middle of the document...

How can one classify someone like Lois Cook as an independent thinker when she bases the entirety of her existence on the rules of society, even if it is to rebel against them? Frankly, it is impossible. Lois Cook is not an individualist; she is a non-conformist: one who refuses to adhere to the standards of another. She strives to merely defy society’s standards and does not offer anything innovative. Roark states “…[Man] can survive in only one of two ways – by the independent work of his own mind or as a parasite fed by the mind of others. The creator originates. The parasite borrows” (712), distinctly drawing the line between individuals and second-handers such as Cook: individuals do while second-handers merely create the illusion of doing. That being said, Lois Cook is a metaphorical machine that takes in a set of rules and spits out the opposite, and it is therefore unfair to equate such unoriginal non-conformism to true independent thinking.
An individual is one who exists as an independent entity, which means any type of intermediary is completely unnecessary. That being said, Lois Cook is controlled by Ellsworth Toohey, as she is dependent on his influence and praise for the success of her writing. He publicizes her books and uses his cult following to hook mindless, sheep-like followers, one of the most prominent being Peter Keating. When describing Cook to Keating, he states, “…she’s so much above the heads of the middle-class who love the obvious…” (235), and by doing so, Toohey is submerging Cook in a façade of uniqueness and profundity, one that would certainly not be achieved otherwise. Based upon the incoherent contents of her book, Clouds and Shrouds, it is clear that Ms. Cook makes her point by breaking every established rule of grammar and traditional writing. That being said, it is no secret that Lois Cook is a mediocre writer who relies on both her rebelling against society’s virtues such as beauty and intelligence to receive a stamp of approval. In doing so, she is allowing herself to be ruled by other people’s opinions, and there is simply no brilliance in that, as it does not lead to true fulfilment or accomplishment by any means. An individualist relies on no one but themselves, and therefore Lois Cook can only be classified as a second-hander who is dictated by the views and ideals of the society she tries so hard to rebel against.
In contrast to Cook, Howard Roark is the central character in the novel that has complete control over the direction of his own life. He does not look to society or any other moral doctrine for answers; all he must do to find them is look within himself. That is the true definition of an individual in its simplest form, and thus, Howard Roark embodies this quality in its entirety. He does not let the beliefs of society or the beliefs of any other person deter him from following his own agenda. Though his bad reputation as well as his economic struggle guarantees failure, Roark maintains a...

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