I have always wondered what is it that is so captivating about Rand’s style, why does she make you look at your toes in shame sometimes and look at the sky in splendour. I recently read a play by Henrik Ibsen, called “An Enemy of the People”. The theme is the atrocities of the majority and their total immunity to the TRUTH. Both Rand and Ibsen have conveyed objectivist beliefs and philosophies and have pitted individual conscience against the alleged soul of the community.
What I personally love about Ibsen is his simple style interspersed with humour that makes great reading. For eg:- Dr Stockmann’s trousers are torn after his speech to the town and he says that no one should wear his best trousers to address a town full of brutes. Yet his simplicity does not fully convey all that Rand conveys through her characters.
Rand is a teacher and she teaches you the philosophy of objectivist thought. She does not ask you but displays through contrast what is and what should be. I think of all the characters she has devised my favorite would have to be Peter Keating (never mind that I don’t agree with him). She has dressed him like fungus – so every time you pit your actions/ reactions against Peter Keating and come close you need to re-think. Ayn Rand does not advocate her ideal man just pits him in contrast to the complete opposite of the ideal man and lets her readers see the difference for themselves. Her style is most hard-hitting in The Fountainhead. One sees reactionary traits in “We the Living” and her other earlier works. But she comes very close to Fountainhead in the “Night of January 16th”. The entire play being placed in the Court of Law where the law supports the criminal owing to his status – is very apt mirror of our society today.
Her style is not an author screaming to express himself, but calm and composed like her protagonists. The turning points are described without any element of thrill and that’s what makes her unique. She does not advocate sex for the sake of it but shows the difference between animal sex which has the sanction of society as against sex that is pure for it is only based on an acknowledgment of animal instincts and is obviously without the sanction of society.
Rand’s lead female in the Fountainhead – Dominique – displays Rand’s own style of proving by contrast though in the case of Dominique she could only achieve it by a path of self destruction. However, if you ask me why she committed suicide I would never say that it was because she was like her female protagonist but rather like Gail Wynand. I don’t think a woman of her character can ever commit suicide because she was driven to it. I think she chose that as an end. She had achieved all she wanted to and chose that moment to end her life.
That is also in keeping with her style.
P.S. This post is very old. I now have learnt that Ayn Rand never committed suicide and died of a heart ailment. It just figures.