Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
The Fountainhead by Russian-American Ayn Rand is a philosophical fiction. The book is a struggle of innovative architect Howard Roark and how he wants to be successful, but the real struggle is with the women in the novel. Dominique and Catherine go through a lot of struggles as women. The women in the story are the lesser equal. Even in the book it shows how women were actually treated during that time. Also, how women get treated today vs. how they were treated back in the day. The world needs to treat women right Dominique Francon is in love with the hero, Howard Roark, she is his greatest admirer. She loves everything he does. Dominique is an interesting character. She believes that Roark is the best man in the world. Keating and the other male characters make her feel despaired. Dominique doesn’t pursue any goals or values. She withdraws from active involvement in the world, pursuing other career not love, until the events of the story, over a period of years, convince her that Roark’s benevolent universe premise is true. It is important to understand that, despite the error of her pessimistic philosophy, Dominique is independent in the use of her mind.
The obvious examples of her first-handed functioning are her evaluations regarding architecture. I believe she understands architecture just as much as everyone else, but chooses to stay in the dark. Catherine Halsey, early in the story is a good girl in love with Peter Keating. Katie’s life, though, is anything but a fairy tale. Keating abandons her for the glamorous and upwardly mobile Dominique and realizes the error of his ways a few years too late. Meanwhile, Katie becomes the ultimate victim of her evil Uncle Ellsworth and gets transformed into a shell of her former self. Catherine’s life in the story goes from good to bad in a hurry. That is to show that female’s lives can be changed and hurt because of men. Women in the story are used as objects. Roark has sexual activities with Dominique. Honestly, he doesn’t truly like her. He is using her for what she has to offer. When this novel was written women had just begun to gain real rights. Also, started to really become something. Firstly, during the 19th century, women, as they lacked education and a social life, were imprisoned at home. Women were viewed to be responsible for household chores and worked as slaves at home while the men went out to work. In today’s society, women also receive the same education as the men do, they also became economically independent; however, women from both centuries are still held for household chores even though they work outside other than household cleaning and cooking. Women were stripped from their individual rights in the 19th century while women, a century later, have their own individual rights; women in the 19th century were treated as the “second class” of the society. In this century, society claims to “treat women as equal as men”, but that may not be the case. Women today are still looked down upon like the women in the olden days but not as drastic. There is always discrimination at work against women and most of the high positions and highly paid roles are given to men. In this story, women are treated to me like objects. I want to go deeper in comparison of back then and now.
In the story, Dominique’s reverence for man’s noblest and best, she must love Roark; but because of her pessimism, she must hold the despairing belief that he has no chance to succeed in a world utterly hostile to him. She joins forces with Toohey, in an attempt to wreck Roark’s career, as an act of mercy killing. Roark must die at her hand – that of the one who loves him – rather than by the hand of a society that envies his greatness. ‘Let us say we are moles and we object to mountain peaks,’ she admonishes the court and gallery at the Stoddard trial, stating that the temple must be torn down in order to save it from the world, not the world from it. The less obvious example of Dominique’s independence is how she changes her mind regarding her pessimistic worldview. She observes the lives of Howard Roark, Gail Wynand, Peter Keating, and Ellsworth Toohey. She sees that despite every obstacle that society places in Roark’s path, it cannot stop him. She changes her view on things because a man or a boy tells her to. Her life revolves around others; she needs to think for herself. The problem is, growing up in that time she is taught not to think for herself. The world then and now women are taught to be the second option. Not supposed to do anything with their lives. I do not wish them to have power over men; but over themselves.” – Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman As a chilling victim of Toohey’s power lust, Katie serves to illustrate an important aspect of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Her sweetness, innocence, and good nature are inadequate to protect her from Toohey’s evil. She was a conventional person, dutifully following her family and her uncle, not too ambitious, not committed to living by her own judgment or pursuing her own dreams. Her lack of independence – her unwillingness to bear the responsibility of sustained, self-initiated thought – costs her the loss of her soul.
An uncritical emotional sweetness of disposition is insufficient to gain a person happiness or to protect her against evil. She needs to use her own mind to think for herself. A lack of independent thinking is what dooms Katie’s attempt to gain love and happiness. This quote explains the difference between now and then. “These days, however, I am much calmer – since I realised that it’s technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on women’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail – giving daily wail against feminism – amuse me. They paid you £1,600 for that, dear, I think. And I bet it’s going in your bank account, and not your husband’s. The more women argue loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges.” Ayn Rand wanted to show that women needed to be treated better and the world needs to know that women can do the same thing as everyone else. Dominique knew a lot about architecture and had a lot of information to help her. Howard, do you remember that I was afraid to share you with lunch wagons and strangers’ windows? now I’m not afraid to have this past night smeared all over their newspapers. My darling, do you see why I’m happy and why I’m free?’ While she’s entrenched in fear, Dominique not only punishes herself but also those around her, particularly the men she becomes involved with.
In learning to be true to herself, she is also able to stop hurting people. During Dominique’s journey to self-discovery she progresses romantically from the person who completely embraces the system – Keating – to a man who kind of challenges it – Wynand – to the true individualist – Roark. Overall, Dominique’s progression sort of guides the reader through the book’s progression of ideas. He thought that a man like Roark needs society in order to build pains Dominique, and she tries to destroy him before the rest of the world can. Yet Dominique wants to fail in her bid to destroy Roark, because if she fails it means absolute good and genius can survive even in an evil world. Male characters and even people in this world are already ahead. Men can know the same information and get more money and recognition for it. Also, when men do wrong it is not as bad if a women does it. “When they lay in bed together it was – as it had to be, as the nature of the act demanded – an act of violence. It was surrender, made the more complete by the force of their resistance. It was an act of tension, as the great things on earth are things of tension. It was tense as electricity, the force fed on resistance, rushing through wires of metal stretched tight; it was tense as water made into power by the restraining violence of a dam. The touch of his skin against hers was not a caress, but a wave of pain, it became pain by being wanted too much, by releasing in fulfillment all the past hours of desire and denial.” This quote explains the relationship between Roark and Dominique. Their relationship was an act of violence. Every time it got worse. “She saw the faces streaming past her, the faces made alike by fear – fear as a common denominator, fear of themselves, fear of all and of one another, fear making them ready to pounce upon whatever was held sacred by any single one they met… She had kept herself clean and free in a single passion – to touch nothing. She had liked facing them in the streets, she had liked the impotence of their hatred, because she offered them nothing to be hurt.” This quote explains Dominique’s character and how she views the world. She is afraid of everything. After awhile she got so used to it she started to like facing them in the streets. The underlying meaning to this story by Ayn Rand is that women aren’t treated fairly. How women are abused, hurt, and used on an everyday basis. How men can pretend to get what they want. Also, that the world is okay with it. The quotes I have used show how much women can do the same thing how much they need to be respected.