Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
Scholarship Sponsored by Ayn Rand Institute
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
1) In the world of Atlas Shrugged, material goods that many of the characters take for granted become increasingly difficult to obtain as the plot progresses. Identify several examples of such goods, and explain how the novel accounts for their disappearance. Describe the economic and the moral-philosophical forces at work in their disappearance. Are there significant parallels with the shortages our world has witnessed in the last few years? Explain any similarities and differences (using contemporary examples).
2) Throughout Atlas Shrugged, there are both literal and figurative references to motors and motive power. Describe three examples of this that occur in the novel, and explain their meaning in the context of the scenes they are taken from. How does this meaning relate to the wider philosophical themes of the novel?
3) Among the many advocates of the “morality of death” he targets in his radio speech, John Galt reserves special criticism for the “mystics” who declare that man’s duty is “to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts.” Name and describe at least two of the doctrines about human nature that Galt says these mystics use to encourage this moral outlook. Then illustrate their impact by choosing a character from Atlas Shrugged who struggles with these doctrines. (If one struggles with both, you need only discuss one.) What types of behavior do the doctrines encourage? What are the consequences for the character(s) in question? How is this struggle resolved?
RULES AND CRITERIA
A) Students are permitted to submit one entry for the contest 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 automatic 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.
E) For complete rules, click "Apply" or visit aynrand.org/contests.