Friday, September 16, 2011

Dagny O'Hara

At first glance you might not see many similarities between the girly, man-obsessed Scarlett O’Hara, from Gone with the Wind, and the no-nonsense business woman Dagny Taggart of Atlas Shrugged.  Both books are incredibly long by modern day standards.  Despite the length of each book I think it would make an excellent study to compare the two. 
Today I wanted to put forward similarities between these two strong female leads.  There are some similarities that differ in the details; for example, both women love married men but both do not have affairs with them.  Dagny has a physical relationship with Henry Rearden.  Scarlett loves and pines after Ashley Wilkes.  The circumstances of each woman’s relationship with a married man are different but the consequent themes of love and marriage within each book become quite analogous.  That two characters can be so alike and yet so opposing is a testament to the core values that each book puts forward.
Both are:
  • Confident in their gifts/abilities.
  • Not afraid to do what it takes to get the job done.
  • Not typically beautiful but stunning anyway. 
  • High interest in making money.
  • Neither one is able to understand the men around her who can actually see reality and who truly understand her (Dagny-John Galt/Francisco d’Anconia, Scarlett-Rhett Butler).
  • Neither understands or agrees with the ruling class’s philosophy.
  • Are rebels.
  • Are seen as doing a man’s work (and doing it too well for a woman).
  • Don’t stay where society tries to make them stay.
  • Don’t find true love until the end of the story.
  • Are vocal about their views of the world.
  • Reject God and rely on self.
  • Are able to shrug off society’s disapproval (self-confidence).
  • More interested in work then children (reject the traditional female role).
  • Feel a connection to a certain part of land.
  • Measures success by productivity.
  • Has a funny name by today’s standards. J
  • Misunderstood by their sibling/s even though they are taking care of them.
  • Neither feels a need to hide their distaste with pretty speech, they say what they mean or don’t speak at all.
  • Have “impure” relations with married men who turn out not to be their true love.
  • Both their True Loves are just as outspoken and “anti-society” as they are.

Next week:  The themes of love and romance in both books.  Yes, there is romance in Atlas Shrugged.

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