If you had to pick between two 1940s film heroes - which would you pick, Ayn Rand's Howard Roark or Frank Capra's George Bailey? With Rand's reemerging popularity among libertarian-minded capitalists that love her "Atlas Shrugged" and the seasonal attention to the Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life," new attention is on the ideals Roark and Bailey represent.
Taken from Rand's The Fountainhead, Howard Roark holds tight to his architectural ideals and ends up paying a price that limits his potential career. On the other hand, George Bailey sets aside his life ambitions for the sake of others in his family and community.
Acton Institute writer Joe Carter makes the comparison like this:
Roark lives to create inspiring works of architecture but cannot do so without relying on others. When society fails to appreciate his genius, his egotistical purity leads him to engage in a vandalistic and destructive temper-tantrum. By the end of The Fountainhead Roark is revealed to be an infantile, narcissistic, parasite.
Bailey, on the other hand, is the type of character Rand would consider a villain. He exhibits the qualities of a repressed, conformist, patsy. He lives for others rather than “following his bliss” or “going Galt.” Bailey compromises everything but his integrity, and in doing so discovers that he has all that makes life worth living.
More from Joe Carter on the topic HERE. Very thought-provoking.
So, which is it for you? Howard Roark or George Bailey? And why?