Atlas Shrugged (Literature) - TV Tropes
Dagny Taggart is riding the Taggart Comet back to New York after inspecting the Rio . depriving Rearden of the raw materials needed to market Rearden Metal. . She sees in the newspaper that Francisco d'Anconia has returned to New York . The first traces of Dagny and Rearden's relationship becomes apparent. The author is clearly contrasting the "goodness" of Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart (and the purity of their relationship) with the evil of Jim. After Hank names a higher price, Dagny asks, “Is that the best price under the conditions of free-market capitalism, clearly demonstrates in Dagny's relationships with Francisco D'Anconia, Hank Rearden, and John Galt.
You can only be truly happy by being honest about wanting to do things for primarily or solely for yourself, rather than pretending to care about others. Governments can never fix socioeconomic problems, they can only create them. This is because government is a collective entity dedicated to altruism: A society which attempts to go against humanity's selfish and individualistic nature by trying to keep the Unworthy from dying, and elevating them to roles for which they are Unfit, will inevitably collapse because a government powerful and foolish enough to save the Unfit is also powerful enough to destroy that society with its inefficiency and corruption which it inevitably shall, see above.
A society which embraces humanity's selfish and individualistic nature by allowing the Fit to naturally rise to roles for which they are Worthy, and the Unfit to perish, will be a Utopia wherein the Fit and Worthy survivors shall be happy and free.
Although Rand intended her protagonists to be morally unassailable, even many people who agree with the book's Objectivist philosophy don't perceive them as pure heroes. Class 2, planetary scale societal collapse. The resulting society is not better off, but it is implied that a new civilization will rise that eliminates, forever, the problems that caused the old to fall. A diesel train is stated to have an average speed of one hundred miles an hour yes, "average", not "maximum" on a track with lots of turns and steep grades.
Compare with modern trains on routes through the Rocky Mountains, equipped with far more powerful and efficient locomotives, where an average speed of forty MPH is considered fast. Railroad rails should not be made of hard steel; the repeated flexing under the rolling wheels would lead to brittle fracture, making a harder steel a far worse alternative than current hot-rolled mild steel.
Having an induction-hardened head will reduce wear, but the most important characteristic of a railroad rail is actually elasticity, the ability to deform slightly under the load and spring back to its original shape. Francisco D'Anconia's preferred nickname for Galt's Gulch. Word of God i. Rand herself admits that she is the Fishwife in Galt's Gulch. Rand also referred to her real life husband-at-the-time as "my John Galt".
There are other, shorter filibusters as well scattered through the book. It must be noted that Ayn Rand was inspired by Victor Hugowhose novels did include numerous examples. Arguably the Trope Codifier. He worked his way through college as a library clerk.
John Galt's philosophy is arguably summed up in one sentence: Rand's view was that evil is a parasite on the good of the world, which cannot survive without willing virtues to loot. Ayn Rand genuinely believed that economics worked as the 'Austrian' school of philosophical 'economics' assumed that it did through the use of axiomatic logic 'Praxeology' without reference to the study of the real world.
In the book this is how economics works, so one of the its Aesops is that industrial society would collapse if those who collected economic rents from the population and corporate welfare from the government ever decided that they didn't want that money: Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you?
That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection. You have fought for it, you have dreamed of it, and you have wished it, and I — I am the man who has granted you your wish.
All of the protagonists and members of Galt's Gulch are described as being exceptionally attractive, while the villains are generally described as pudgy and watery eyed. To be fair, however, Rand might have been trying to say that being talented, hard working, and passionate makes you attractive, and not the other way around. Averted with Lillian Rearden, who is described as quite attractive—just creepy. Ferris, who is Tall, Dark, and Handsomealbeit in a slightly foppish way.
Dagny Taggart is a strong, powerful woman — who can only feel attracted to a man if she sees that he is even stronger still.
The book is full of florid prose about how much she's always wanted to find a man who would be capable of dominating her, and how much Dagny enjoys being submissive when romanced by a worthy male. The contrast between this and her strength and competence is emphasized. To her credit, however, Dagny remains capable and intelligent, and being submissive to a man in a romance does not relegate her to playing second fiddle to him in other contexts, or prevent her from challenging him when needed.
Rand also deconstructs the trope with the actress who joined the strike because she was typecast as the Veronica: Ragnar even crashes through a windowguns akimbo to ambush the guards.
Black and White Morality: Explicitly endorsed by John Galt in his huge, huge speech: In my youth, this was called blackmail. That's what it is, Mr. We've entered a much more realistic age. Every confrontation in the book between the two, whether it's physical, economic or intellectual, is handily and easily won by the heroes.
Dagny and Hank do suffer several defeats in their overall goals for most of the novel, but this is only because they try to fight the looters on their terms - terms which the looters and their predecessors have refined for generations to be in their favor. Once they cross over to the strikers, their foes are utterly helpless. This is John Galt's major plan: Remember how Dagny returns from Galt's Gulch just in time to hear that the engines from their star line and the cars from a coal run were being appropriated to pick up a shipment of grapefruit?
Two-hundred and fifty pages later, after the looters have captured Galt, it's mentioned that Mr. Thompson's doctor had prescribed him grapefruit juice to help with an "epidemic" of colds.
And we learn of this because they just at that moment ran out of juice. Right up until the collapse, resources were put aside so the Head Of State could have grapefruit juice. Robert Stadler, brilliant and idealistic scientist who becomes just another part of the looters' machine. Hank Rearden and Francisco d'Anconia; Dr. Will you do me a favor? Will you tell him that I You see, I've never cared for people, yet he was always the man I respected, but I didn't know until today that what I felt was, He'll probably damn me for leaving Subverted with Dagny and James Taggart.
While both are in major leadership roles at Taggart Transcontinental, it's Dagny who keeps the railroad running and James who keeps either harming its interests or advancing it through dishonest means. When the three were children, Francisco always thought of Dagny and Eddie Willers, not James, as "the Taggart children," so Dagny and Eddie, who becomes her Special Assistant, count in spirit.
This message was likely unintentional, as Objectivism maintains that refusing to act altruistically is perfectly 'moral' as long as you do not feel bad about refusing like John Galtand altruistic behaviour is only 'moral' when it makes you feel good rather than it being inherently or ojbectively good. A four hour long speech appears verbatim, right before the climax.
After that, the rest look like zingers. Dagny and Frisco Comic-Book Time: A mild example with Galt's speech which is four hours long in the book. In real life, no-one has been able to read the entire thing, clearly and distinctly, in less than six. Thompson tries to offer John Galt what he thinks are comically large bribes to cooperate with the government, such as a billion dollars in gold and total economic power over the whole country.
Galt points out that, in fact, such money and power would only be of value to him once he creates said value himself, making them completely worthless.
She never cashes it, knowing that it will be worthless in both a financial and a philosophical sense. Completely Missing the Point: After listening to Galt's four-hour long tirade about the evils of government interference in industry, the looters proceed to capture him and offer him the role of economic director, a job in which he will be free to run industry as he sees fit. And then when he replies that his first order is to abolish all income taxes, Thompson balks and refuses.
After Dagny returns from her idyllic sojourn in Galt's Gulch, James Taggart who probably majored in Missing the Point brags about how much money he has made the railroad in her absence. He gloats, because all Dagny ever cared about was making lucre.
He "made" that money by pulling strings with his friends to get the government to give him outrageous subsidies and advantages. When Cherryl asks him about Dagny's comments, James responds by attacking Scudder and pointing out that he has been kicked off the radio, and Cherryl disliked Scudder anyway. Cherryl becomes quite exasperated. Hank Rearden is thrown a banquet after the tremendous success of Taggart Transcontinental's Rearden Metal line, at which he is praised loudly for being someone who people desperately needs.
He's not very impressed. Composer Richard Halley joins the strike after the night his opera became a roaring success for the same reason. Francisco d'Anconia became famous for this after adopting his playboy persona.
James Taggart also goes on a spree of this later on. Notably averted with most of the heroic characters, even very rich ones: Many passages in the book are exactly this. Justified Trope given the genre. Various villains, notably James Taggart and Orren Boyle.
The heroes have also been accused, in-universe, of embodying this trope. Just about every politician in the book is either a weak, amoral slug or a deliberately destructive leech.
Intellectuals such as Balph Eubank and Simon Pritchett like to present the world as one of these, a place where reason and logic are uselessman cannot achieve anything significant in the universeand suffering is the essence of life. The general state of the world seems to imply that they are right, except that their insistence on treating those opinions as fact is causing them to become true.
In contrast the Strikers use Genius and Determination to create infinite energy machines and cloaking devices, thereby Earning Their Happy Ending.
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Hank Rearden flips out when he finds out Dagny slept with Francisco d'Anconia The scene ends with Rearden and Dagny having the greatest sex they've ever had. There are interesting shades of this in Dagny's relationship with her father. Although he mainly gave to company to James, he knew from watching her childhood that she was the Taggart to run the railroads. In turn, Dagny admires her father for being a self-made, hardworking man, but also regrets that being born into his family made her success a little easier.
After John Galt hacks the radio transmissions and delivers his speech, the other characters do anything to fill up the dead air afterward, but this is treated more as a Follow the Leader response of the radio producers that came before them.
Deadpan Snarker - Most of the good characters but particularly Dagny. The first guy to produce steel in Galt's Gulch is driven out of business when a better man joins the strikers. The beaten man happily works for the new steel producer, in a position which is a much better fit. The winner himself tells Dagny that he looks forward to the day when Rearden joins the strikers: Hank will certainly beat him, but it'll be an honorable defeat. Cherryl reaches hers when she comes to understand more about Jimmy Taggart's philosophy, and how he really feels about her.
Dagny, particularly in regards to how she finds Galt. She finds his plane, grabs her own, follows it until it seemingly disappears into the side of a mountain, and follows. Hank Rearden went through countless failures before he finally invented a successful version of Rearden Metal. Galt, the hero, doesn't show up in a major way for about pages. He's in the first couple chapters, but it takes the looters about pages before they really start to screw up society.
That "early" portion of the book is devoted to introducing characters and establishing their personalities through extensive, extensive dialogue and flashbacks. Lillian Rearden and Jim Taggart each got married for the sheer, sadistic joy of psychologically crushing and breaking a person. Do Not Adjust Your Set: Your radio set, anyway. The villains of the piece base their economic policies on emotionalism and feelings and what they call 'love for others'.
Atlas Shrugged is at a conservative estimate the 8th longest novel in Englishand is just about as long as the Bible. Within the world of the novel. Ferris lampshades this when he threatens Hank Rearden with the public revelation of his affair with Dagny, mentioning that Rearden's own "conquest" would be perceived as normal, even admirable by some, while Dagny would be seen as a slut and be totally dishonoured.
The fear of tarnishing Dagny's good name is exactly what drives Rearden to cave in to the looters' demands. Possibly averted when Dagny proudly declares on public radio how she has been Rearden's mistress, and actually receives some admiration. Everyone else calls the hidden valley where the strikers are living "Galt's Gulch", but he calls it by its owner: Played straight by the planned "Meigsville".
The point of the whole thing may be summed up by how Rearden wishes he didn't have to call all of his businesses by different names, but simply call his entire business empire "Rearden Life". Putting your name on something means nothing. But if you do something, it's a part of you no matter what it's called. Subverted in that once the machine breaks, none of the torturers know how to fix it.
Galt calmly explains how to repair it, and a Eureka Moment ensues: Even Evil Has Standards: During the meeting to plan Directivethe question of what to do about any industrialists who are caught deserting is brought up. Ferris says that since the directive makes deserting a crime, it should be treated as treason, and perhaps the death penalty should be applied in such cases.
Fred Kinnan instantly calls him out on it, and nobody ever brings up the thought again. Inverted later in the book, when violating Directive means that you can no longer be legally employed and doomed to a slow death by starvation. Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: After capturing Galt, the various Looters try and talk him into helping them out. Thompson's conversation at length, and it's clear he cannot understand anything Galt believes.
The two talk past each other most of the time. Hank Rearden and Orren Boyle.
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Hugh Akston and Robert Stadler. John Galt and Fred Kinnan. Kinnan is particularly interesting: He emerges from a meeting with Galt saying that he enjoyed the conversation, particularly Galt's Brutal Honestyand then calmly admits that as a career criminal like himself would be pointless in a world without regulations, he would be "the first one to go down the drain when Galt wins.
John Galt's theory of society, very much endorsed by the omniscient narrator. Socialism is a failed ideology that will cause any society that adopts it to collapse, and there's no use fighting it once the Gullible Lemmings have made their choice. Every "victory" by the looters simply brings their own defeat that much nearer by stamping out the last vestiges of productive humanity in America.
Deliberately invoked, in-universe, as the book sought to argue against traditional definitions of morality. Specifically, it promotes selfishness as a virtue. It also argues for atheism and justifies sex as a moral triumph. Moral Guardians from all over the political spectrum flew into utter outrage these messages.
Gore Vidal Socialist said Rand's philosophy was "perfect in its immorality," and the National Review's Whittaker Chambers ex-Communist who became a Christian conservative said that from every page in this book he could hear a voice calling "to a gas chambergo! Furthermore the book clearly promotes the position that if you are a 'productive' member of society and your spouse and children are not, then regardless of how much they love and support you in non-financial ways you should be disgusted by their fiscal parasitism.
James plays this to Cherryl after they meet. The siege of the Rearden Steel plant, which was planned to be passed off as a workers' riot to encourage Hank to accept the Steel Unification Plan. The looters' policies end up turning America into this, with critical resource shortages, riots, greatly increased unemployment rates, and trains not running on time all across the nation.
By the end of the novel American society has pretty much collapsed. Ironically, John Galt is not one. Stadler supported the State Science Institute for the sake of freeing scientific research from the shackles of corporate funding.
He started going downhill from there. Heavily implied to be occurring in this world especially when it is revealed that Wesley Mouch, at one point the most powerful man in the United States, is "the zero at the meeting point of forces unleashed in destruction against one another" — that is, he's enough of a non-entity to satisfy rival factions trying to put their "friends" in important positions and keep their enemies out.
Also occurs every other page between the "businessmen" who are incapable of earning an honest living helping each other and stabbing each other in the back as the plot demands. In later years Dagny would discover her vision of the future was mistaken in the same way, and she would often think back to this party and wonder why people seemed incapable of living life in joy, why they lived instead with a constant undertone of fear and unhappiness.
Where were the men of joy? Where were the men who were appropriate for life on earth? That summer, when Francisco returned, he and Dagny discovered they were in love, and spent the summer going off together and making love in the cellar of an abandoned log cabin, where no one could discover them.
They kept it secret not out of guilt - they knew not that such joy could be sin - but because they felt it was too personal and too special to share with anyone else. The romance continued for eight years, as Francisco rose to become head of d'Anconia Copper and Dagny finished college and began her rise at Taggart Transcontinental. Then, when she was 24, Francisco unexpectedly invited her to his suite at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel.
She was shocked to see, for the first time, pain in his face, and that he was torn by the obvious struggle within him that he could not explain to her. They made love for what will be the last time, and Francisco was stricken with a burden unbecoming of him, a grief and bitterness at odds with his usual happiness. He begged Dagny to help him fight him Galt's opus even though he's right.
He regained his composture and warned her not to be shocked or hurt by the things he will do, and told her not to wait for him. After that night, she did not hear anything about Francisco for a year, and then she began to hear the stories of a new Francisco, a worthless, irresponsible playboy, with no apparent interest in his work.
At first she could not believe these things, but as the years passed and the stories piled up, she had no choice. Time deadened her pain, but she never found another man to love -- another man for whom life was joy.
When she arrives at the Wayne-Falkland and confronts Francisco, she accuses him of deliberately plotting the swindle of the San Sebastian Mines.
She tries to determine his motives, and he leads her on, eventually telling her that he is deliberately trying to destroy the producers, that his goal in the San Sebastian Mines was to waste millions of dollars, and that Ellis Wyatt will be next one to be destroyed and Taggart Transcontinental will collapse as well; he tells her that she is the one he must fight.