Atlas Shrugged – A Companion Book (Part 3)

I mentioned in my previous post that Atlas Shrugged presents the sixth gallery of my book better than most of the fine arts.  This sixth gallery is represented by individuals that have recognized and accepted the call to adventure, won the trials to capture the boon, and are at the threshold of happiness awaiting their fellow citizens to pull them across the threshold.

In Atlas Shrugged, these individuals are: artists, academic professors, industrialists, entrepreneurs, thinkers and managers.  They each have a boon or gift to present to society – a gift that was seized during their adventure.  Unfortunately, during most of the novel, society is not interested in recognizing their efforts.  As such, they remain in this sixth gallery wit the boons/gifts unavailable to others.

As I was reading the chapter of the novel most devoted to these individuals, I could not help but think about the Shakespeare poem that is found in my book.  The following is the poem from the play, As You Like It.

Under the Greenwood Tree (Shakespeare, c. 1600)

Under the greenwood tree

Who loves to lie with me,

And turn his merry note

Unto the sweet bird’s throat,

Come hither, come hither, come hither:

Here shall he see

No enemy

But winter and rough weather.


Who doth ambition shun

And loves to live i’ the sun,

Seeking the food he eats,

And pleased with what he gets,

Come hither, come hither, come hither:

Here shall he see

No enemy

But winter and rough weather.

This is a song praising a life in the forest, away from the demands of the sophisticated court.  The character, a wealthy member of the court, expresses the sentiment that it is much easier to bear the hardships imposed by nature than the cruelty all too often found in human society. This is a song in praise of a simple life lived in contentment, away from the demands of those in society.

However, this is not necessarily Shakespeare’s conception of happiness. He was presenting the reality of the day: the Elizabethans were active, ambitious people constantly seeking wealth and power.  This piece represents the adventurer who has decided not to return to the everyday world but remain in the Adventure. The adventurer knows that this is not happiness as the winter has “rough weather.” The poem expresses the concern that the risks of returning to society are too great and a life lived in the Adventure would be better than one lived among others in general society until such time as society become one more accepting of those offering a promising new approach to life.

This is exactly what Atlas Shrugged addresses.  In society, there are a number of great individuals that have captured the boon of their adventure but have decided to remain in the adventure until such time as society is ready to recognize their efforts and help them across the threshold, with their boons for the benefit of society.

More to come.

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