Analysis of The Fountainhead


A tick is a parasite. It clings onto its host and suckles until they implode from their own gluteny. Normally, the hosts despise these vile creatures that can only survive on their blood; however, Elsworth Toohey loves needy, tick-like parasites that cling to his name and influence. The feeling of supporting and controlling peoples’ lives is the driving force behind Toohey’s actions. He collects people like Peter Keating and allows him to grow and flourish around his presence, and when he is bored with an individual, his career implodes. But why does he live to destroy? Toohey is a very unremarkable man. He is small in stature and makes a horrible impression until he uses his silver tongue. He despises individualism because he doesn’t stand out in a crowd. He is an altruist because he was never given anything. He is a walking paradox that people can’t comprehend. He is an altruist so can control individuals, a selfish act for a man who preaches selflessness. Ellsworth Toohey’s character puts readers into a mental pretzel that is difficult to unscramble.

Peter Keating, Gordan Prescott, Lois Cook, Ike the Genius, and Gus Webb are fantastic hosts because they are simply minded. These characters are intelligent, no question; graduating at the top of a prestigious architecture university is no small feat. Although Keating used slimy methods to achieve magna cum laude, the cunningness and intelligence used to achieve this honor was truly remarkable. People like Keating and friends only measure themselves in the eyes of others. They strive for the admiration of their peers and the common man who reads the front page of the newspaper. If the world sees them as genius and an icon, they are a success. The drive to keep the contrary slapped onto media for the world to consume keeps them from drowning. Toohey is their life raft. Toohey provides that security of not failing with his ability to sway the public opinion. Toohey, as previously stated, thrives on the dependability of his hosts. This is prevalent whenever this group gathers; every individual clings on to the words of Toohey and try with vigor to gain a compliment. This group of academia listened to Ike’s play and knew that it wasn’t groundbreaking, but Toohey’s words changed their opinions and brainwashed the masses, similar to when a young athlete hangs his head after a loss and is presented a trophy nevertheless. The products they were producing didn’t have any significance to these individuals only the justification of Toohey. This is precisely the reason these people weren’t truly successful.  A person who derives his accomplishments off the words of an outsider will always require that outsider. They are simply just rats in a Skinner’s Box, only accomplishing enough to receive a morsel of food. 

Once ticks have gotten all they want from a host, they burst. Toohey had slowly weaned himself away from Keating because he was slipping. He had achieved the status he had lusted for his entire life. He was the sole partner of an architecture giant and had married a woman the world obsessed over. The drive to stay at the top had vanished because he had nothing to keep him there. He had lost people to leapfrog and put himself into auto-drive. Toohey can’t work with that. His relationship with Keating burst and he attached himself to a new host, Gus Webb. Toohey’s ultimate goal is complete power, a power in which his words and recommendations were perceived by the public as fact and the only correct take on matters. Complacency and old ideas are not easily digestible to the public. He has to keep his endorsements fresh as well as his relationships. When the trend of architecture shifted towards modern, Toohey left Keating for Webb. Building careers and having dependable hosts allowed Toohey to maintain relevant with the changing demands of the public. If people don’t adapt, they die. Toohey understands this and does so easily because he never truly cares about the careers he’s building or the people he’s promoting. He feeds on power and soaks up every last drop of relevance these people have and then tosses them away. The thought of an individual creating relevancy organically terrifies him and that is why Roark poses such a threat.

Roark designed his own path and stay true to his creations. He embodied his work and his work embodied him. He depended on no man to create his career and he never sought to change himself for the public eye. Therefore, he had no need for Toohey. He didn’t even think of Toohey, this I can only assume cut deep to the core of Toohey. He lived off the control he had over people’s careers and the power to sink or raise them in society. Roark never gave him this chance. He succeeded when his name was drug through Toohey’s columns and he outlasted him at trial. Roark personified the ideology of individualism. He relied on no man to boost his career and took no shortcuts to the top. He had only himself to attribute his success and he was able to be proud of his work. He didn’t desire success; he desired creation. He wanted to see his ideas rise above him in the skyline and see himself in his work. Keating never was able to admire his buildings. He only enjoyed the admiration he received at parties. Toohey can’t control an individual who doesn’t long for attention and admiration; he can only control the latter. Collectivism tells people to run with the trends, but that doesn’t provide longevity. Individualism and pride in oneself and oneselves work can never be crushed by collectivism. A strong individual will always rise above the masses where the Tooheys of the world can never tamper because they prey on the materialistic, spotlight lovers of the world, who live for their fifteen seconds of fame. Individuals of the world will never be controlled and that thought sends shivers down Toohey’s spine.

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