Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
ELIGIBILTY AND PRIZES
Open to all 12th grade, college undergraduate, and graduate students worldwide.
Top Prize: $10,000; Second Prizes (3): $2,500; Third Prizes (5): $500
SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE TOPICS
A) In Atlas Shrugged, the society's leaders enact a series of laws and directives (the Equalization of Opportunity Bill, Mouch's directives about the railroads of Colorado, Directive 10-289, etc.) that exercise increasingly arbitrary power. Describe one example of a major recent government policy decision in your country that resembles one of the edicts in Atlas Shrugged. How has this decision been justified by today's leaders, and how do their claims resemble those given in Atlas Shrugged? In light of the story, what do you think Ayn Rand would expect to be the consequences of the policy you've described? Do you agree with her? Explain your answers.
B) Francisco d'Anconia presents himself as a playboy who has abandoned serious concern for his family's business. But early in the story Dagny realizes that Francisco's public persona does not fit with the man she knows. Compare Francisco to another major figure in film, TV, or literature who adopts a similar double life to accomplish his purposes. How is he similar? How, in terms of his motives and methods, is he different? What kind of purpose could make the price of leading a double life like this worth paying? Explain your answers.
C) After quitting her job, Dagny thinks this to herself: "It is not proper for man's life to be a circle . . . or a string of circles dropping off like zeros behind him-man's life must be a straight line of motion from goal to farther goal, each leading to the next and to a single growing sum, like a journey down the track of a railroad, from station to station to-oh, stop it!" How do Dagny's thoughts here relate to the wider dilemma she faces at this point in the story? How does her dilemma relate to the wider themes of the novel? Explain your answers.
RULES AND CRITERIA
A) Students are permitted to submit one entry per year.
B) Essays must be 800-1600 words in length and written in English only.
C) Essays must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification.
D) Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify his or her view-not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophical meaning of Atlas Shrugged.
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