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The most villainous character in Atlas

Posted by Mamaemma 6 years, 12 months ago to Culture
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It's easy to identify the greatest hero in Atlas as John Galt. I would be very interested to hear who Gulchers would choose to be the most villainous character in Atlas, and why.


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  • Posted by Non_mooching_artist 6 years, 12 months ago
    James Taggart, because he willingly sold out and prostituted TT to the looters. He was the lowest scum, because he was a toady and sycophant to keep his head out of the line of fire. He felt that he would be spared the unpleasantness that would follow because he betrayed Dangny, and therefore was absolved of any punishments being meted out by the moochers and looters headed up by Thompson.
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  • Posted by freedomforall 6 years, 12 months ago
    The banksters that Ayn didn't include because they were invisible, even to her. They were there, manipulating events from behind the curtain, just as they do in real life.
    I admire Rearden more than Galt.
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    • Posted by 6 years, 12 months ago
      Good corollary about Rearden, freedom. why do you admire Readen more?
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      • Posted by freedomforall 6 years, 12 months ago
        It's much harder to build than to destroy. Galt is less a concrete figure of accomplishment, and more a quasi-religious (don't go crazy kh;^) figure but with logic and rational thought as his weapons.
        Rearden earned my respect through production of something that exceeded all other similar inventions and beat the system that tried to destroy it (although Galt would argue Rearden helped support a system that looted from him.) Galt invented something astounding but since it wasn't ever subject to the scrutiny of the free market we must take it on respect of Dagny and Q.Daniels' knowledge of science and engineering that the motor can survive in the real world market. But neither Dagny nor Daniels are competent to establish that; only the market and application of it will prove the motor's worth.
        What's the first question that most Gulchers ask when someone posts a new invention? "Is it practical?" or "Does it scale up to be practical?" While I respect Galt for his ethics, and his invention, Rearden proved his in the market at great cost, and yet he still views Galt's invention with delight and respect, and instead of being critical, Rearden immediately sees advantages, and applications for it. Rearden has the same respect for Ellis Wyatt because he has earned it.
        Rearden is the hero figure that I admire most in AS, although each of the other Gulchers is admirable to a lesser extent.
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        • Posted by handyman 6 years, 12 months ago
          Great points. Another reason I admire Rearden is his persistence in resolving the conflicts that tormented him, i.e. understanding the philosophical issues. He certainly had the intellectual horsepower as evidenced by his inventive, engineering and business skills. But dealing with the philosophical ideas was his biggest hurdle and he overcame that one too.
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      • Posted by $ Temlakos 6 years, 12 months ago
        I'll tell you why *I* count Rearden as the real hero of AS. Because he had a decision to make. The whole book was about his, and Dagny's, journey to reach a decision about what kind of life they would lead and whom they would support.
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        • Posted by 6 years, 12 months ago
          Yes, Galt actually opted out of the struggle before he got in to the system. His pain and the price he paid were of a different kind.
          But you're right; Rearden had to claw his way through all the confusion and pain to find his way. He had incredible strength, and I think Rand showed that well, even in the admiration that the Gulchers had for Rearden.
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          • Posted by $ Temlakos 6 years, 12 months ago
            When I use words like "hero" and "villain" and now, "anti-villain," I rely on lessons I learned at writers' conferences. A literary hero must make a life-altering decision. A literary villain pursues his course with a single-minded determination and will be stopped only by death or other total and ignominious defeat.

            A hero serves a just cause; an anti-hero serves an evil one.

            Likewise, a villain serves an evil cause, and an anti-villain serves a just one.

            But one of the first things my instructors told me to disabuse myself of, is the classic definition of "hero" as "a character serving a just cause."
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            • Posted by CircuitGuy 6 years, 11 months ago
              I use the word "anti-hero" to mean characters like Shaggy of Scooby Doo: a good guy you can sometimes identify with but is not heroic.
              I haven't studied writing that much, so I'm likely using it wrong.
              What would you call Shaggy?
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              • Posted by $ Temlakos 6 years, 11 months ago
                Oddly enough, I'd still call him a hero.

                A literary hero is simply that character in any story who has a life-altering decision to make, and after it's over, he or she is not the same person that he or she was going in.

                A literary villain, by contrast, pursues his goals with single-minded-ness of purpose, often to a fault, and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. He often literally will kill anyone who stands in his way.

                Heroes usually serve a cause you can identify with. Anti-heroes serve a cause we hope you wouldn't identify with, because it is, at least conventionally, evil.

                Villains usually serve an unjust cause. Anti-villains serve a just cause.

                For that reason, Dagny Taggart and Henry Rearden are the true heroes of Atlas Shrugged. Each one has a decision to make. Rearden decides he has been facilitating evil all the time, and must stop, and support his real friends. Dagny realizes she has been giving away her services free to those who would not lift a finger to help her when the life of her loved one is on the line, so she gets fed up and stops.

                The closest thing to an anti-hero in the novel could be Robert Stadler. "Did you think it was for you that I sold my soul?" he starts to say. It is the second-to-last thing he ever says, the last thing being, "Don't touch those levers, G_d d__n you!"
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                • Posted by CircuitGuy 6 years, 11 months ago
                  I love villains whom I can partly identify with. Kahn (prime) is a bad guy bc his wife died after Kirk marooned him. He really is smarter than everyone and feels like people would be wise to let him run things. He is mad Kirk didn't come check on him, something he never wanted or asked for. He's wrong, but we understand why he's doing this.

                  Gordon Gekko is the same way. His father worked his tail off and died broke. Now he has a job liberating shareholder value tied up by management and unions where milking the gravy train. He'll take bribes from those unions, though, if it is more profitable to him than liquidating the assets for the shareholders. He's actually mostly a hero, which highlights his tragic flaw.
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  • Posted by coaldigger 6 years, 12 months ago
    I choose Mr. Thompson because of current events. When an honest man accepts a leadership role it entails a responsibility commensurate to the power of the office and to abuse that power is the crime that has haunted man throughout history. Mr. Thompson only cares for the power and knows that his actions will lead to a disaster for all mankind but only hopes that retribution will not come until after his death. That is the ultimate evil to me but unfortunately, very common.
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  • Posted by $ Temlakos 6 years, 12 months ago
    To begin with, while I might agree John Galt is the foremost protagonist, I would not use the word "hero" to describe him. A hero must make a life-altering decision in the course of the narrative. That applies, not to John Galt, but to Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden. John Galt is an anti-villain: "villain" because he is on a single-minded quest and stops at nothing, and "anti-" because he serves a just cause, not an evil one.

    That said: you ask who is the foremost antagonist in Atlas Shrugged--the worst villain in every sense of the word.

    True enough, John Galt identified Robert Stadler as the one man he condemned most of all. He gave away the idea that became the heart of Project X. But even if he hadn't given it away, Floyd Ferris might have stolen it. It would be in keeping with his character.

    No, I say the foremost villain in this piece, the one who had the most dangerously spiteful motive, was James Taggart. We find out, in the torture scene, what drives him. He does not want to live. He wants others, who achieve more than he does, to die. This is his goal: to get one of those high achievers onto the rack and make him scream. And he finally realizes what a monster he is, at the end. The realization reduces him to a quivering mass of jelly.

    Compared to him, Robert Stadler has it easy. He goes out to try to seize Project X, only to find someone else occupying it ahead of him. They fight, and the fight kills them both.
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    • Posted by Riftsrunner 6 years, 12 months ago
      Sorry, James Taggart is an anti-industrialist (think of him as the flipside of the Rearden coin). He has no power beyond what he can get from or give to others. And he is oblivious to his motivation until it is pointed out to him by Galt. And once he knows he can no longer live how he was before (again like Rearden).
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  • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 12 months ago
    I think Hank Rearden is a better hero than John Galt, regardless of A.R.s intent. Stadler -- no question is the most insidious villain.
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  • Posted by powbill 6 years, 12 months ago
    Mooch
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    • Posted by woodlema 6 years, 12 months ago
      I do not think Mouch was the worse. He was an idealog and "Robin Hood." He believed his own propaganda.

      I think those who know better, and continue down the road are the worse. That makes them liars and hypocrites.
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      • Posted by bassboat 6 years, 12 months ago
        Don't denigrate Robin Hood by comparing him to Mouch. Robin stole from the King and his allies, they controlled all the wealth the rest were left to rags. If only we could figure out how to do what Robin did..........
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        • Posted by woodlema 6 years, 12 months ago
          Robin Hood was a VILE creature with NO redeeming values. Atlas Shrugged has a large chunk devoted completely to Robin Hood.

          Also the REAL Robin Hood was not a hero at all but a violent highwayman who stole from everyone and did NOT give to anyone. The legend is rob from the rich, not just King and Tax man. Since there was no real way of knowing if the "Rich" were bad or not there was no dlineation therefore Robin Hood in the legend practiced charity with product he did NOT earn and was NOT a champion of Private property but a Champion of the socialist, "spread the wealth."

          Bassboat. You need to read the book Atlas Shrugged. Chapter 17.

          "“Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive.”
          "[Robin Hood] is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don't have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does."
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  • Posted by teri-amborn 6 years, 12 months ago
    Robert Stadler.
    He knew the truth. He knew reality. He knew how to reason. He understood proper human relationships. He knew the difference between right and wrong.
    He chose to deny all of that in favor of "personal comfort" at the expense of the taxpayer...hence his denial makes him the most evil person.
    Ayn said that lack of knowledge wasn't evil. It is when you know the truth and refuse to stick with the truth that you harbor evil.
    I agree.
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  • Posted by davidmcnab 6 years, 12 months ago
    The most villainous character in Atlas Shrugged is exactly the same as that most villainous character in real life - the faceless, conforming mind-slob of an apathetic sense-driven superficial douchebag who just goes with the flow, believing what s/he is told, never questioning, never voicing his/her opposition to anything and (these days) not even bothering to vote.

    In the words of Albert Einstein, "He has been given his big brain by mistake. Unprotected spinal marrow was all he needed".

    Without such a faceless jellyfish existing in countless numbers, Wesley Mouch would rise no higher than a filing clerk. TT's executives and top workers would walk out, start their own rail company and crash TT's stock price to pennies, then buy out Jim's controlling share and regenerate TT with Dagny as CEO.. Robert Stadler would be back teaching at Patrick Henry University, carefully toeing the line, having given up on any idea of funding scientific research at the point of a gun.
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  • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 12 months ago
    Mouch takes the cake in my book. He manipulates to gain power. We already know that elected officials do this, but voters carry some responsibility by enabling them to do it. Bureaucrats are in my mind a whole other evil.
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  • Posted by woodlema 6 years, 12 months ago
    1) Robert Stadler
    2) Hank Reardon.

    I list Hank as villainous because he continued to support the ungrateful, (family) even though he received NO value at all from them of any kind. His actions in keeping them around are the epitome of Altruism. Self Sacrifice for no personal gain or benefit.
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    • Posted by Riftsrunner 6 years, 12 months ago
      I agree with Stadler being a villian. He was a man of the mind who sold out to the looters and moochers to get their money to continue his research. He was also the only person that Galt took personal revenge against because he was a true traitor to the men of the mind. By specifically requesting his presence to the looters and moochers, he singled him out for their scrutiny.

      Rearden wasn't villianous, he was misguided. He is only as villianous as the other industrialist that go on strike once their eyes are opened. Once Rearden was ready to accept the truth he walked away just like the rest.

      I was going to say Floyd Ferris because he was also a man of the mind, but he was never really in that group. He was a thug of the muscle because he just wanted to create methods to extort the men of the mind to do what he and the other looters wanted.
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    • Posted by $ Temlakos 6 years, 12 months ago
      Rearden, far from being a villain, is one of the novel's heroes. He comes to realize what a mistake he has made, where his guilt truly lies, and what to do about both.
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      • Posted by woodlema 6 years, 12 months ago
        I stand corrected. Partly.

        He was "villainous" until he came to his senses.

        I still take issue with his willingly supporting his brother Philip, and his wife, and mother in law. He was demonstrating a textbook definition of Altruism.
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        • Posted by gcarl615 6 years, 12 months ago
          I think he was caught up in his sense of the "right thing to do" He sees them as children who would be out on the street without him. He believes that he has enough interinal fortitude to allow them to sap his strength. So long as he has work he can endour them because they are family. He pretty much ignores them, because he can. But his sense of honor and duty compels him to allow them to leach off him. I have learned in my life that it very hard to throw off some of the crap your parents ingrain in you as good because it involves family.
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          • Posted by 6 years, 12 months ago
            You know, gcarl, I was able to avoid having some family members abuse me because of having read about Rearden's moral struggle. I think his biggest mistake was to believe that he could be inherently bad.
            And I am grateful to Ms. Rand for her lesson in morality and family.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 6 years, 11 months ago
    My #1 Most Loathsome AS Character:
    My most loathed character is the woman who doled out benefits at the motor company. She could see that the system was pitting workers against one another, encouraging them to strive to have the best sob story so they could provide for their families. She got some perverse pleasure out of workers competing for her favor, so they could get money for their kid's operation or whatever it was. To top it off, she patted herself on the back for all the good deeds she was doing with other people's money.
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  • Posted by Bill_Futrell45 6 years, 12 months ago
    Mouch was Dodd-Frank and yes, the most villainous. I can hear Frank quoting Mouch, "to solve this problem I created, I need more money and more regulation latitude and authority". And he got it and made the problem worse. And so it goes. Layer upon layer of more and more oppressive regulations on all of us. Evil villainous defined.
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  • Posted by johnpe1 6 years, 12 months ago
    if we can expand our view a bit, the worst villain
    is the reader who intentionally mis-understands
    and damns AR as a vile advocate of unmitigated
    greed, unprincipled money-grubbing and selfish
    personal aggrandisement. . there are so many
    who do this, I believe, while harboring a silent
    understanding of the a is a, value for value tenets
    which are the foundations of objective living. -- j

    p.s. OK, Emma?
    .
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