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James Taggart

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James Taggart is probably one of the best villains in literature. Of course, by "best" I mean the most depraved, backwards, and savage. It's funny, though- it took me the whole novel until I actually managed to pin him as "THE ANTAGONIST". Then I reflected on it and realized- "Oh my goodness, he was there when EVERYTHING bad happened! He's the villain!"

But James Taggart fails eventually. The last two pages of Part 3, Chapter Nine are devoted to this fact. However, his end (I call it his end- I think that after this he will be unable to do any harm [or anything] anymore) actually leaves the reader with the feeling that he has the potential to "redeem" himself. Having realized his own depravity, he just may turn himself around. May.

It's a pretty far-fetched hope, though. Look whom he is taken away by. I doubt that under Ferris's care Taggart will be able to remedy himself.

I like to think that, having realized about himself what his "friends" are still trying to avoid realizing about themselves, he is beyond being recruited back into their (the looters') ranks, much less be the head of it.

I guess that leaves two options for him: 1) Live in the vegetative state of a broken mind or 2) Work to improve himself; work towards, say, his sister's standards. Of course, he'll never be much. Barely a mark on the world.

His mistakes were made with full intention. James Taggart is not an innocent. Rearden's submissive chainging of himself to hi family was innocent. He "redeemed" himself.

But perhaps, if James learned anything, anything at all from his sister, there is a chance- a slim one, a very slim one- that he could become happy.

This may all be wishful thinking on my part. There's only a .00000000001% chance of him saving himself. And even that might be stretching it.

Anyone else here think that Taggart might be able to correct his contradictions and move on?

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I didn't really see Taggart as the main antagonist. He was evil certainly, but I think he was, more than anything, a pawn of people like Ferris and Cuffy Meigs (I think that's his name.) He bought into the doctrine of altruism because he was already empty and altruism idealized that. While most of the Collectivists pretended until the end that they cared about the masses, Taggart acknowledged that he personally deserved to be taken care of. However, I don't remember anything indicating that he consciously realized it was evil, until the very end, when the realization turns him into a vegetable.

I don't think there was any suggestion of hope for his redemption. In a way, he did learn from Dagny and Galt, but he had progressed to a point that he was completely incapable of dealing with reality. After his breakdown, I think he was truly dead, regardless of the physical status of his body.

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I don't think he'll recover. There is nothing good inside of him. In one scene he tells Dagny "I am your brother" and she says it's monsterous. It is monsterous because despite being related to Dagny, he has no good in him.

The problem as I see it is that there are endless number of people like James Taggart all over the world. Changing that fact is something I am having a hard time imagining, although I know that's the goal.

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I didn't really see Taggart as the main antagonist. He was evil certainly, but I think he was, more than anything, a pawn of people like Ferris and Cuffy Meigs (I think that's his name.)

I wouldn't call Jim Taggart a pawn. He was neck-deep in begging favors from the government since the very start of the story. Remember near the beginning the "party" in the bar made up to look like a dank basement? That's when he turned Rearden's "Washington man," Wesley Mouch, to his side.

But to get a look at the real Jim Taggart re-read the wedding scene. He's there enjoying his power, being flattered by "intellectuals," being begged by other, granting favors, etc, etc. Whatever that is, that's no pawn.

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I didn't really see Taggart as the main antagonist. He was evil certainly, but I think he was, more than anything, a pawn of people like Ferris and Cuffy Meigs

It's tough to peg one person as the antagonist, now that i think about it. The true "enemy" was the altruist morality. But if I had to pick the one person in AS who epitomized that morality, I would have to pick James. Ferris was quite terrible, but he was limited to science, not an influential company that could make or break the nation. Yes, science is important and integral to the story, but it was easily beaten when Rearden Metal was proved against its critics- such as the State Science Institute.

As for Meigs, he was merely a thug. Any illusions otherwise are quickly dispelled when you bring up the final destruction of Project X. He couldn't comprehend the controls and paid the full price.

But James wasn't a thug or a mystic, but a somewhere-in-between. He was friend to the thugs, he was friend to the mystics. He manipulated both.

His final chapter is very similar to Eddie Willers's. He could either be saved by the Strikers or he could be left to die. His story isn't fully resolved, and , I don't think, nearly as resolved as Eddie's.

Taggart has no good in him? That brings up a question: Are people inherently good, or do they create their "goodness"?

He realized he was evil; hence, his vegetation.

So, if they are inherently good, Taggart will never redeem himself.

If they create their own goodness, he has a chance, albeit slim.

At least, that's what I think.

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At a lecture I went to earlier this year, Andrew Bernstein was describing the sex scene between James Taggart and Lillian Reardon as two monsters having sex. I thought that was hilarious and appropriate. :lol:

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James Taggart is probably one of the best villains in literature. Of course, by "best" I mean the most depraved, backwards, and savage. It's funny, though- it took me the whole novel until I actually managed to pin him as "THE ANTAGONIST". Then I reflected on it and realized- "Oh my goodness, he was there when EVERYTHING bad happened! He's the villain!"

When I read the Fountainhead, it took me a while to catch on to Toohey being Evil. For a while, I was just like, he's a normal old man. Very Wrong, but he seems to be kind just a normal guy - perhaps even a little harmless. Then, when he was talking to Stoddard and said the Temple was "bad" because "God didn't want you to make it", or something like that, I can't remember the exact quote. But when I read that, literally, I almost threw up. I found that absolutely revolting on sooo many levels. After that, I realized that this guy is absolutely insane and pure evil. I was very disappointed to see that he still had a job at the end of the book.

Anyone else here think that Taggart might be able to correct his contradictions and move on?

I don't. It's the nutty bin for him.

His final chapter is very similar to Eddie Willers's. He could either be saved by the Strikers or he could be left to die. His story isn't fully resolved, and , I don't think, nearly as resolved as Eddie's.

And yet there isn't a single piece of objectivist fan fiction out there. Does anyone else find that at all weird, considering how it ended?

Edited by Devils_Advocate
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Maybe we'll see a nice "uplifting" resolution in the movie (whenever it decides to ACTUALLY come out, that is. ;) ).

More likely the movie will leave you with the urge to hop on a plane to Hollywood and start shooting everyone who had anything to do with it.

It will be a hack job. Objectivism will not be properly presented, whatever it is that IS presented will be clearly evil and blamed on Ayn Rand. Some hope that maybe people will read the book, but the benefit from that will be WAY outweighed by the millions of people who will come out of that movie thinking Ayn Rand is basically Satan.

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It's tough to peg one person as the antagonist, now that i think about it. The true "enemy" was the altruist morality. But if I had to pick the one person in AS who epitomized that morality, I would have to pick James. Ferris was quite terrible, but he was limited to science, not an influential company that could make or break the nation. Yes, science is important and integral to the story, but it was easily beaten when Rearden Metal was proved against its critics- such as the State Science Institute.

I dont think its right to look for any particular character as being the main antagonist - the real enemy is the shapeless black beast that Stephen Mallory described in the Fountainhead, which stands for a whole bundle of interrelated cultural attitudes/institutations involving conformity, irrationality, selflessness, and bureaucracy. The 'bad' characters in Atlas Shrugged do portray different aspects of that beast, but the beast itself is something that permeates all of society to some degree rather than being any particular person. Thats why I think that the 'bad guys' in AS were much better handled than the character of Toohey in the Fountainhead, who came across as some kind of cartoonish supervillian and imo deflected attention from the main point. I think more evil is committed by the sort of people in AS than is carried out deliberately by evil geniuses.

The beauty of AS is that there doesnt need to be some kind of criminal mastermind behind the scenes orchestrating everything; the results develop quite naturally out of organic social processes once the corrupt ideological framework is in place. It seems like a much more realistic picture of social history than the one in the Fountainhead.

Edited by eriatarka
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I'd completely forgotten about Mallory's beast; thanks for reminding me.

As I said earlier here, the true "enemy" is the altruist morality (perhaps the beast?).

I don't want to get into the movie here but I am certain it will be horrible- a heavy blow dealt against us, I bet- but until that actually happens nothing will stop me from trying to stay optimistic about it :)

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  • 1 month later...

the first time I read AS, I felt sorry for Jim Taggart in a way. More than anyone else, he reminds me of "The GOdfather" character, Fredo Corleone. As I have read the book again, I feel less sympathy towards him and more disgust. There are lots of little things in the book that add true depth of depravity to Jim Taggart that I didnt notice upon first read

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  • 2 weeks later...

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