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Dominque Francon loves Roark yet struggles to destroy him

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    Dominque Francon loves Roark yet struggles to destroy him. Why? And how does this conflict connect to the novel’s theme and meaning?

                In order to understand the reasons behind Dominique Francon’s struggle to destroy Howard Roark despite her love for him, there is a need to consider three major points: first is the nature of Dominique Francon’s character, second is the nature of Roark’s character, and third is the nature of Dominique’s love for Roark. Understanding these three main points will assist in reconciling Dominique’s love-hate attitude to the main theme of Ayn Rand’s book.

                From the very beginning, Dominique is portrayed as the type of person who is constantly dissatisfied with the world around her. Her own father sees her as a “difficult” person. She has never fallen truly in love with anyone before she meets Roark, not even with any of her father’s young and successful associates. Keating, among others, attempts to woo her, but she returns his efforts with indifference, even disdain. Because of her disillusion, she makes no effort to please anybody; for her, this is tantamount to conforming to the unspoken rules that bind the society she is so displeased with. She seeks to be free from these rules. For her, the only way to gain this kind of freedom is by detaching herself from everything; by being dependent on nothing and no one. Her life may be seen as a constant battle against the world. She fights this battle by being the way she is; by refusing any attempt to meet the standards set by the rest of the world.

                Howard Roark, on the other hand, represents all the things that Dominique thinks does not exist. He is the exact opposite of the way Dominique sees the world and the people who live in it. While being the complete contrast to Dominique’s idea of “what is”, Roark consequently meets Dominique’s standards of “what should be”. Unlike other architects of his generation, Roark does not seek to please his client; in fact, similar to Dominique, Roark seeks to please no one. His work is an end in itself, not a means to please university professors, bosses, clients, the media, or anyone else, for that matter. A major proof of this is the way he willingly allows Keating to take credit for his architectural designs. He does not want or need recognition from society; the erection of his building is its own reward. He harbors no pretense of altruism. He is selfish through and through, and he does not hide it. He is not a slave to society and its rules. Roark possesses the kind of freedom that Dominique is also trying to achieve.

                In understanding the nature of Dominique’s love for Roark, there is a need to analyze one very significant event that changed the lives of these two characters: the rape. Although it is true that what initially attracted Dominique to Roark was something very trivial: the gaze, the encounter in the construction site where Roark worked not as an architect but as a manual laborer, it may be argued that Dominique’s initial reaction and presumptions on Roark’s character were confirmed when the rape took place. It was a supreme act of selfishness; a complete manifestation of Roark’s desire, with no pretenses. At the same time, the rape can also be seen as symbolic of the kind love that existed between Dominique and Roark. Their love was selfish, and that was what made it true. It was the kind of love that did not depend on the other person, much less society, in order to exist. This love was solely based on the “self” in relation to how it sees the “other” and what it is able to derive from this “other”. The idea that Dominique would not have loved Roark if he was not the way he way is immaterial. The point is: how that love was acted upon was purely dependent on the “self”. Their love had no rules. It required no consensus from the other, regardless of whether there actually is consensus.

                Coming to the focal point of this essay, which is on why Dominique still struggles to destroy Roark even though she loves him, there are two ways of looking at it. Put simply, the first is in order to prove her self worthy of him, and the second is in order to protect him.

                In understanding the first point, there is a need to go back to the idea of Dominique’s life as a continuous battle against the world. She is still in the process of achieving the same level of freedom that Roark has. In their relationship, the degree of selfishness on her part is inadequate. She is still a slave of one thing: Roark; she needed him. The grand “hate propaganda” she launches against Roark after the rape may be seen as her way of purifying her self of this slavery. This is why she suddenly has a reversal of roles; she turns her life around by suddenly conforming to the world standards she formerly despised. She marries Keating, becomes the model wife, becomes agreeable in social circles, and criticizes Roark like the rest of society. Having already overcome slavery to the world, she now has a new goal: to overcome her slavery to Roark, in order to deserve him. If she wanted to, she could have given herself to him from the very beginning. In the end, she marries him, but only after finally proving to herself that she was, indeed, ready.

                The second point, which is to protect him, is closely related to the first in that it presupposes the fact that she is still a slave to Roark. She does not want him to be destroyed by the society that does not know any better. Her solution is to destroy him herself early on, while he is still on smaller projects, so that the damage will not be as great. If he will be destroyed anyway, she wanted it to be done as early as possible, and by her, someone who knew and cared. The word “destroy” can refer to two things: on the pragmatic level, Roark’s career as an architect, and on a more philosophical level, Roark as a person. The first clearly refers to Roark’s career failure. The second shows Dominique’s fear that Roark’s strength of character, his freedom from being the slave of the world, may be corrupted and transformed. Dominique was afraid that society might transform him into someone just like the rest of them. This was exactly the point why she needed to stay away and why Roark allowed her to do what she did: she needed to learn not to care.

                Ayn Rand’s theme for this novel revolves around the idea of selfishness as a necessary state for man in order to achieve self-actualization. The ultimate goal of man is to reach the point of complete freedom: to stop thinking of others and focus on oneself. At the same time, the novel can also be seen as a criticism to the idea of “selflessness” or altruism. The author equates being selfless as necessarily being a slave to the world, which makes it impossible for self-actualization to be achieved. This is because selflessness allows for all your actions to be constantly dictated by world standards and by the people around you, whether consciously or unconsciously. The most blatant example in the novel of all this is the person of Keating, who strived to please everyone by being the exact person they wanted and expected him to be. He achieved in pleasing everyone, but in the end, he was lost and very unhappy. Roark, on the other hand, while constantly displeasing society and while being misunderstood by almost everyone, was content and happy in the end. As for Dominique, her love-hate attitude towards Roark puts her somewhere in the middle; neither completely self-actualized, nor a slave to society. Her actions throughout the novel reveal her progress towards achieving selfishness, and with that, self-actualization. Her love-hate attitude, as mentioned earlier, is representative of this struggle.

                In summary, this essay discussed the reasons behind Dominique Francon’s attempts to destroy Roark by analyzing three things; Dominique’s character, Roark’s character, and the nature of their love for each other. This essay also juxtaposed these to the main theme of the novel, which is selfishness.

     

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    Dominque Francon loves Roark yet struggles to destroy him. (2017, Feb 28). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/dominque-francon-loves-roark-yet-struggles-to-destroy-him/

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