Egoism In Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

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“The first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man’s first duty is to himself. His moral law is to never place his prime goal within the persons of others.” - Howard Roark, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand Ayn Rand’s Anthem depicts a dim collectivist society in which the people have been robbed of their individuality, independence, and even their own aspirations; occupations are assigned by the Council, and those they feel threatened by are given the job of street sweeper. The narrator, Equality 7-2521, is rich in intellect and curiosity, and he wanted desperately to join the Council of Scholars so he could continue to study the world around him. He is instead given the job of street sweeper. Despite this, he conducts secret experiments and…show more content…
Ayn Rand, however, uses the word in a different light, as someone who cares about the individual rather than the whole. To Equality, ego is a holy word, one he discovered himself after escaping an all too collectivist society that forbade any originality, and even the use of the word I. After living in this society, he sees the importance of the individual and can be considered to be an egoist in Ayn Rand’s definition, which is very different from the negative tone the word is used in today. She considers egoism natural to humanity and essential to advancement, as it is what drives imagination and inspires creation. Her definition of egoism is best summed up in a speech made by the protagonist in another of her novels, The Fountainhead: “The egoist in the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner. He does not function through them. He is not concerned with them in any primary manner.”
Equality is, of course, an egoist in this manner. He is an egoist because is independent and acts regarding only himself. Equality shows this many times throughout Anthem, by his sneaking away to experiment in a tunnel he found from the “Unmentionable Times” (the Council considered it a major transgression to be alone) or his eventual desertion of the City following the rejection of his
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