Book Reviews

Ayn Rand: The Fountainhead - 2

Continued from Previous Page 

Main Characters 

In the previous article we saw the theme of The Fountainhead. Now Let us get introduced to the main characters of the novel. 

1.  Howard Roark - The protagonist of the novel, an innovative and individualistic architect.

2.  Peter Keating - A fellow architect and Roark's classmate, who follows conventional trends and seeks social approval.

3.  Dominique Francon - A complex character who has a love-hate relationship with Roark and serves as a columnist.

4.  Ellsworth Toohey - A prominent architectural critic and antagonist who aims to control public opinion.

5.  Gail Wynand - The owner of a major newspaper, the "Banner," and a key figure in the story.

6.  Henry Cameron - An architect who serves as Roark's mentor and a symbol of integrity.

7.  Catherine Halsey - Peter Keating's fiancée and later wife.

8.  Guy Francon - Dominique's father, a wealthy businessman and former architectural critic.

9.  Austen Heller - A wealthy, influential industrialist and friend of Wynand.

10. Mike Donnigan - Roark's construction worker friend.

11. Steven Mallory - A sculptor and friend of Roark's who faces personal struggles.

Howard Roark is the protagonist in The Fountainhead. He is a visionary architect who epitomizes uniqueness, integrity, and unwavering independence. Roark's character represents Objectivism, Rand's philosophy that emphasizes the necessity of pursuing one's own values and refusing to submit to conventional expectations. Roark is represented as a gifted and creative individual. He has a distinct architectural perspective that distinguishes him from his peers. His designs are daring and inventive, and they represent his unrelenting dedication to his own artistic integrity. Roark's work is distinguished by its uniqueness and reluctance to follow current trends or public opinion.

Unlike many of his colleagues, Roark has no desire for fame or acclaim. He is completely motivated by his love of architecture and his ambition to develop structures that reflect his own beliefs. Roark is firm in his devotion to his trade, and he is willing to face hardship and rejection rather than compromise his artistic vision. Roark’s personality is also marked by his steadfast independence. He refuses to adhere to cultural standards or expectations, even when enormous pressure is applied to do so. Roark's resistance to compromising his ideals is evident in his encounters with others, particularly with Peter Keating, a former classmate. While Keating wants praise and recognition from others, Roark sticks to his ideals, refusing to compromise his integrity for personal benefit. Roark’s connections emphasize his character qualities even more. He develops a strong bond with Dominique Francon, a woman who shares his love of independence and understands his artistic vision. Their bond is founded on mutual respect and appreciation, as they realize and value each other's dedication to their own values. Roark confronts various trials and barriers throughout the story. Those who do not understand or embrace his unique approach to architecture confront him with animosity and opposition. However, Roark remains firm in his beliefs, refusing to be persuaded by outside circumstances. His unwavering dedication to his values eventually leads to his victory, as his talent and ethics are acknowledged and celebrated.

To summarize, Howard Roark symbolizes the qualities of individualism, integrity, and unwavering independence. He represents Ayn Rand's Objectivism ideology, emphasizing the necessity of pursuing one's own beliefs and refusing to adapt to conventional standards. Roark's character exemplifies the power of staying true to oneself and the benefits of unflinching adherence to one's own principles.

Peter Keating is a complicated character in the novel. He is the polar opposite of the protagonist, Howard Roark, representing the antithesis of independence and integrity. Keating's character is defined by his insatiable desire for social approval and his lack of personal identity. Keating is shown from the start as a conformist who is always looking for approval from others. His competence as an architect is overwhelmed by his concern for public opinion. Keating's principal aim is to be admired and respected by society, which forces him to compromise his ideals and forego his own creative vision. To attain his ambitions, he is willing to plagiarize, deceive, and betray others, exhibiting a complete lack of moral integrity. Keating’s connections show his weaknesses as a character. In architecture school, he befriends Roark, recognizing his talent but feeling frightened by his uniqueness.

Keating is continually seeking Roark's praise and attempting to replicate his success, but he cannot appreciate the essence of Roark's ethics. Instead, he becomes mired in a web of deception and mediocrity, surrounded by sycophants and exploiting people as stepping stones to further his career. Despite his seeming success, Keating suffers from a deep sense of emptiness and self-doubt. He is highly conscious of his lack of originality and talent, which exacerbates his need for external affirmation. Keating's continual need for approval drives him to marry Dominique Francon, whom he believes will elevate his social status. Their marriage, however, is devoid of love and founded on superficiality, emphasizing Keating's inability to create meaningful connections. Keating’s character deteriorates gradually throughout the narrative. As Roark's career advances, Keating's stagnates, and he grows angry and resentful. Envy and a sense of inadequacy overtake him, driving him to commit betrayal against those who have supported him. Keating's collapse stems from his inability to find fulfillment within himself, forcing him to rely on others for his sense of self-worth. Finally, Peter Keating is defined by his urgent need for social approval and lack of personal identity. He depicts the risks of conformism as well as the consequences of compromising one's integrity in exchange for external validation. Keating's trip serves as a cautionary tale, reminding readers of the necessity of remaining true to oneself and the dangers of seeking approval from others.

Dominique Francon is a fascinating and complex character in the novel. She is an intelligent, beautiful, and deep woman whose actions and views contradict society's conventions and expectations. Dominique's personality is influenced by her experiences, relationships, and unshakable dedication to her own values. Dominique has a distinct point of view on life from the minute she is introduced in the story. She is described as fiercely independent and highly pessimistic. Dominique's cynicism derives from her dissatisfaction with the world around her, particularly with current cultural and architectural trends. She perceives mediocrity and conformity as widespread, and she refuses to compromise her own beliefs for societal acceptance. Dominique's relationship with the novel's protagonist, Howard Roark, is crucial to her development as a character. She is first intrigued by Roark's unwavering individualism and reluctance to adapt to societal norms. Her skepticism and dread of getting harmed, however, caused her to destroy their relationship.

Dominique feels that true brilliance is doomed to be destroyed by the world, and she attempts to save Roark from this fate by destroying himself. Dominique's behaviors are frequently conflicting throughout the narrative. She marries Peter Keating, a successful but mediocre architect, to protect herself and distance herself from Roark. Her marriage to Keating, on the other hand, is loveless and devoid of any genuine connection. Dominique's decision to marry Keating reflects her opinion that true excellence should not be embraced or honored in the world she despises. Dominique's conflicting emotions make their relationship with Roark even more difficult. She is divided between her feelings for him and her worry about the world's catastrophic power. Dominique's internal conflict reflects her fervent conviction that the world is intrinsically hostile to individualism and greatness. To defend Roark from the terrible powers of the world, she engages in seemingly contradictory behavior. Dominique makes a change as the narrative unfolds. She starts to doubt her own views and the veracity of her cynicism. Through her encounters and interactions with Roark, Dominique discovers that the world cannot destroy true greatness but rather that its rejection of greatness reduces the world.

Dominique, in the end, emerges as a symbol of individualism's triumph and the power of accepting one's own values. She comes to terms with her feelings for Roark and rejects societal rules that strive to repress originality and brilliance. Dominique's character path exemplifies the transformative power of love, self-discovery, and seeking one's own truth. Dominique Francon, in summary, is a complicated and multi-dimensional character. Her skepticism, anxiety, and mixed feelings make her an interesting character in the narrative. Dominique fights conventional norms and finally embraces her own values and the strength of independence through her journey of self-discovery and her relationship with Howard Roark.

Gail Wynand is another fascinating and influential character. Wynand maintains enormous authority and influence over public opinion as the owner and publisher of the widely read newspaper, The Banner. He is portrayed as a self-made man who came from humble beginnings to become a successful media mogul. Wynand's personality stands out for having a unique blend of ambition, intelligence, and a deep understanding of human psychology. Through his publications, he has a keen capacity to manipulate popular sentiment and mold public opinion. Wynand's success is founded on his ability to provide people with what they want rather than what they require. He makes use of the fact that he is aware of the emotions and aspirations driving the masses. Despite his apparent prosperity, Wynand is a very conflicted person. He suffers from emptiness and a lack of genuine human connection. His incessant need for recognition and acceptance from others drives him to sacrifice his own ideals and principles.

Wynand's quest for power and fortune has distanced and estranged him from his humanity. One of Wynand's key issues is his relationship with the novel's protagonist, Howard Roark. Wynand first regards Roark as a threat to his own power and influence. Wynand develops a profound admiration for Roark as he learns about his unyielding integrity and reluctance to compromise his artistic vision. He recognizes Roark as all he wishes to be but has yet to become. Wynand's friendship with Dominique Francon, another important character in the narrative, emphasizes his internal conflict even more. Dominique initially married Peter Keating, but Wynand's influence and power enthralled her. Their relationship, however, is characterized by a severe sense of loneliness and emotional alienation. Wynand's attraction to Dominique is motivated by his desire for validation rather than genuine love or connection. Wynand's character experiences a shift as the novel unfolds. He begins to rethink his decisions and concessions in order to keep his authority. He recognizes that his desire for wealth and power has cost him his happiness and genuineness. This insight prompts him to make a critical decision that sends him on a path of self-redemption.

Gail Wynand's seeming prosperity, though, has a deep sense of emptiness and a lack of genuine human connection. Wynand's character undergoes a shift as a result of his interactions with Howard Roark and Dominique Francon, forcing him to examine his decisions and ultimately seek redemption. His character serves as a warning about the consequences of sacrificing one's integrity in the pursuit of power. Wynand's persona serves as a warning about the perils of losing one's integrity and authenticity in the chase of power and success. Ayn Rand addresses the ideas of individuality, integrity, and the value of sticking to one's ideals throughout his trip.

Ellsworth Toohey is a prominent character in the novel. He is a formidable adversary, representing the pernicious forces of collectivism and the suppression of individualism. Toohey's character is intricate and multidimensional, making him a compelling protagonist. Toohey is introduced as an influential architecture critic and columnist who influences public opinion and promotes his own agenda. He portrays himself as a champion of the common man, advocating for mediocrity and conformity that he believes will benefit society as a whole. A manipulative and power-hungry individual, however, lurks beneath this façade.

One of Toohey's defining characteristics is his ability to take advantage of people's insecurities and desire for validation. He manipulates and controls them by exploiting their dread of being different. Toohey recognizes that by promoting conformity and discouraging individualism, he can maintain his power and influence over others. He thrives on the concept of a society where everyone is equal, not in terms of opportunity or achievement but in their mediocrity. The actions of Toohey reveal his true intentions throughout the novel. He actively strives to undermine and destroy those with extraordinary talent and individuality. The protagonist of the novel, Howard Roark, an uncompromising architect who refuses to conform to society, is his primary target. Toohey perceives Roark as a threat to his own power and influence and thus sets out to eliminate him. Toohey's methods are calculated and devious. He exploits his position as a critic to manipulate public opinion against Roark by spreading lies and false information about him. In addition, he employs more subtle methods, such as promoting second-rate architects who are prepared to conform to his ideals. By doing so, he ensures that mediocrity prevails and exceptional individuals such as Roark are marginalized.

Toohey is not devoid of internal conflicts, despite his destructive nature. He is afflicted with a profound sense of self-loathing and jealousy of those with authentic talent and individuality. His actions can be interpreted as an expression of his insecurity and desire to bring others down to his level. This inner conflict lends dimension to his character and makes him more than a one-dimensional antagonist. Ellsworth Toohey, the protagonist of The Fountainhead, is a compelling and nuanced character. He is the embodiment of the pernicious forces of collectivism and the suppression of individualism. He seeks to maintain his own power and control over others by manipulating and exploiting them. However, deep self-loathing and envy lay beneath his exterior. Toohey's character functions as a cautionary tale, highlighting the dangers of conformity and the importance of embracing individuality and personal achievement.

We shall see the roles played by the remaining characters in the next installment.

To be Continued
 

09-Sep-2023

More by :  Priyanka Bendigiri

Top | Book Reviews

Views: 396      Comments: 0





Name *

Email ID

Comment *
 
 Characters
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.