Researching for an Atlas Shrugged Essay

Researching for Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged mainly requires one to simply read the novel itself. No actual research into anything else. As a piece of literature, the book itself will be your primary research guide to work with. Here’s what you may want to “research”:

  • The novel itself.
  • Ayn Rand’s personal philosophy Objectivism.

Honestly that is all. You can pick whatever order you wish to research these in as Atlas Shrugged is laced heavily with Objectivism. Researching the philosophy first will give you an idea as to what to look for in the novel and reading the novel first will allow you see elements of Objectivism when you research it. Either way works.

Read the Novel

If you’re going to be doing an essay on Atlas Shrugged, this is something you should do anyway. Familiarizing yourself with the reading material will give you a better idea on the characters, themes, setting, problems, and reflection on society. In the case of any essay based on a novel, the book itself is the best source to work with and the main thing you should focus on reading.

After finishing Atlas Shrugged, ask yourself questions about what you read and answer your questions. The more difficult the questions, the more reflection will be needed to reach a conclusion. These are usually the answers that make for a good thesis statement.

Research Objectivism

As the book features Ayn Rand’s brand of Objectivism as a theme, it would be a good idea to look into and research the philosophy. Some points of interest include:

  • Metaphysics: Objective Reality which embody existence, conscious, and identity.
  • Reason
  • Metaphysical value-judgments
  • Ethics: Self-interest
  • Politics: Individual rights, capitalism
  • Defense and criticism of Rand Objectivism

After obtaining a working understanding of Objectivism, look back on Atlas Shrugged and reflect on how the following:

  • How is the philosophy on display in the novel and how it affects other themes?
  • What characters embody Objectivism or particular areas of Objectivism?
  • How does Objectivism shape the setting?
  • Responsibility vs. Self-Interest in Atlas Shrugged.

Note that one of these could also serve as your thesis statement and all could be tackled in the course of your essay. The important thing is reading, research, and reflecting before getting into the actual heavy lifting of writing your essay on Atlas Shrugged.