The IUP Journal of English Studies
The Resolution of Dichotomies in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Article Details
Pub. Date : June, 2021
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES30621
Author Name : Sugeetha K and M G Priya
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
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No. of Pages : 10

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Abstract

Renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow's romantic vision of a self-actualized human being and novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand's visualization of an ideal human being are similar in many aspects. While the psychologist conceived an encouraging picture of the fundamental nature of human beings (what they could be), the writer, through her novels, envisioned what people who have reached that stage are capable of achieving (how they ought to be). Both treat happiness as a state of mind that is achievable by all, rather than an emotional state that is dependent on external factors. While Rand in her fiction and Maslow in his theories have listed a number of common traits as prerequisites for an individual to lead a constructive and happy life, the ability to resolve or integrate dichotomies, according to them, plays a vital role in deciding a person's psychological health. Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged contains many such dichotomies that human beings battle with in the course of their lives. This paper explores how the characters in Atlas Shrugged successfully deal with some of these dichotomies and as a consequence lead joyful lives. Since the mental health of a person is crucial to one's wellbeing and happiness, the objective of this paper is to discover solutions to internal conflicts that can disrupt the tranquility of the human mind.


Introduction

American psychologist Maslow (1998), in his attempt to present his vision of a psychologically healthy individual, acknowledged the "duality of human nature." He was aware through his life experiences that human beings were capable of both good and evil, but what he strived to ascertain was whether this was their real nature. His discovery was that "goodness" was inherent human nature; what appears otherwise is only a reaction to stress, pain, or deprivation of basic needs. When a person's immediate needs are satisfied, he or she naturally becomes more capable of love and appreciation for others. This is the stage that Maslow calls "self-actualization," where one is able to look at the world through a clear lens and find life truly enjoyable (Lowry 1998, v-xi). This positive psychologist did not stop with simply envisioning an inspiring view of human potential; he conducted an investigation of a select group of people who were self-actualizers (mentally healthier and happier) and came up with some revolutionary discoveries. He listed a set of traits that were characteristic of those who had a greater degree of psychological health, although not necessarily perfect. In Maslow's (1987, 191) opinion, one of the important qualities that indicated good mental health is the ability of the individual to resolve "polarities or opposites or dichotomies" that the majority commonly struggle with in the course of their lives.


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