The European Council

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�PAGE � �PAGE �8� Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand's novel, "Atlas Shrugged"


Ayn Rand's novel, "Atlas Shrugged"

The contradiction between self-reliance and dependence is one of the most fundamental contradictions of each human's existence, for the decision made between these two states of being permeate every aspect of a human's life. Every character in a novel is also faced with this fundamental contradiction, and even if the theme of contradiction of personal freedom is not explicitly discussed in a work of fiction, the degree of independence and autonomy that is given to each character will have a profound impact on how each responds to the conflicts within the novel.

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged deals explicitly with the impact that personal contradiction of liberty, or rather independence, has on an individual. Each one of the characters in the novel is explicitly affected by his views of what independence is and how it relates to his life.

To the heroes of Rand's novels, independence is not an outward relation to the world, but rather an inner state concerning an individual's approach to reality. To be independent means that one holds and acts upon the idea that the mind is the only valid source of judgment about the world and that the burden and responsibility of judgment falls solely on the individual. An independent person realizes that no man can think for him and thus does not rely on others of make judgments or decisions for him. Mirroring life, in Atlas Shrugged, to the extent that each character holds independence as a virtue is the extent to which he succeeds in obtaining his own happiness; to the extent that a character refuses to depend on his own mind and his senses is the extent to which he self-destructs.

In evaluating Rand's treatment of...