Randian hero

Randian hero

The Randian hero is a ubiquitous figure in the fiction of Ayn Rand, most famously in the figures of "The Fountainhead"'s Howard Roark and "Atlas Shrugged"'s John Galt. Rand's self-declared purpose in writing fiction was to project an "ideal man"—a man whose ability and independence leads to conflict with others, but who perseveres nevertheless to achieve his values.

Generally a Randian hero is characterized by radical individualism, moral resolution, intelligence/aptitude, self-control, emotional restraint (sometimes to the point of seeming cold or appearing to lack empathy), and (frequently, but not always) attractive physical characteristics in the eyes of other Randian heroes (See Howard Roark and Dagny Taggart).


Equality 7-2521, the protagonist of Rand's dystopic novella, "Anthem" is a deeply curious and intelligent man who is forced by the leaders of his collectivist society to work as a street sweeper. Witnessing a rebel being burned at the stake, Equality recognizes a common spirit. Despite his position, he manages to rediscover electricity, a technology that had been lost by the dystopian society of the story. When he presents his discovery to the World Council of Scholars, he is cast out—his discovery was a work of individual curiosity, not of collective action and endangers the "Candle-Makers Guild" and thus their carefully planned, inflexible economy. Ultimately, Equality escapes into the woods with his secret, forbidden lover and discovers an ancient house filled with countless books. Reading the books he begins to better understand his individuality and pledges to live a happy, self-sufficient life, taking the name Prometheus.

Equality shows many of the traits of the Randian hero even before the prototypical example was presented in "The Fountainhead". He is intelligent and fiercely independent, yet he is born into a society where he is held back and not allowed to reach his full potential. Given the length and style of "Anthem", Rand is unable to more fully characterize Equality, yet even here he is in many ways different from later Randian heroes. Most notably, he is interested in raising children—something that isn't true of Rand's later heroes.

The Fountainhead

Ayn Rand created the Randian hero in earnest in the character of Howard Roark in "The Fountainhead". An architect, Roark conflicts with his profession's establishment on multiple occasions. The early stages of the novel begin with Roark being expelled from university because he refused to design in traditional styles. Throughout his career, he refuses to design according to any vision apart from his own. The architects' professional body scorns him for not paying "proper respect" to tradition, yet in the end, he triumphs.

Atlas Shrugged

The protagonist of Atlas Shrugged is Dagny Taggart, described by Rand as "the feminine Roark" [http://www.asenseoflife.com/cd.html] . Atlas Shrugged introduces countless Randian heroes, both in the backstory and in the primary narrative. In the story, they personify the intellect—their withdrawal from the world under the leadership of John Galt parallels the world's gradual collapse.

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