The Atlas Shrugged essay contest is open to all high school, college, and graduate students worldwide.
Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest is offered by the Ayn Rand Institute, a California-based nonprofit “think tank” dedicated to promoting a better understanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophies. Ayn Rand was a writer and philosopher that lived between 1905 – 1982. Thirty-seven million copies of her books have been sold.
Eligibility Guidelines for Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
- The Contest is only open to high school (secondary school), college, and graduate students.
- Essays are judged on whether the student is able to justify and argue for his or her view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses.
- Their graders look for writing that is clear, articulate, and logically organized.
- Essays should stay on topic, address all parts of the selected prompt, and interrelate the ideas and events in the novel.
- Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of Atlas Shrugged.
Submissions Guidelines for Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
- Your essay must be between 800 and 1,600 words in length.
- Read the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Draft your essay based on your view of the book in respect to your selected prompt. Request a free copy on their website.
Select ONE of the following prompts as the topic of your essay.
In his speech about money, Francisco says: “Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. . . . Paper [money] is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: ‘Account overdrawn.’” Explain what Francisco means by this and how it serves the purpose of his speech. Then explain how his statement can be seen as applying to our economic world today.
In his radio speech, John Galt names a principle that Rearden and Dagny have struggled to discover for themselves: “The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it. . . . Do not try to live on your enemies’ terms or to win at a game where they’re setting the rules. . . . One cannot hope to maintain one’s life by accepting bribes to condone one’s destruction.” Explain what Galt means by this and how the issue plays a role in the plot of the novel. Describe an issue or event from current events (whether in your country or in its relations with others) to which you think this principle applies. How might events have unfolded differently if this principle of the sanction of the victim were taken more seriously?
The bum in the diner says to Dagny, “It doesn’t take any morality to turn out a ten-ton truck on an assembly line.” In important ways, the events of the novel go on to address this and other claims the bum makes in this scene about the nature of morality. What do they suggest is right about the bum’s conception of morality? What do they suggest is wrong about it? How, in particular, does Rearden start from the bum’s point of view and develop a new view over the course of the story?
- Enter the contest only through the website here.
About the Book
With adoring fans, fiery critics and very few in between, why does Atlas Shrugged evoke such impassioned responses? Because it grapples with the fundamental problems of human existence — and presents radically new answers.
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s last novel, is a dramatization of her unique vision of existence and of man’s highest potential. Twelve years in the writing, it is her masterwork.
Is the pursuit of profit a noble enterprise or the root of all evil? or is sexual passion an exalted spiritual virtue or a dirty, animalistic vice? Is reason an absolute or is faith an alternative source of truth? Is self-esteem possible or are we consigned to a life of self-doubt and guilt? In what kind of society can an individual prosper, and in what kind of society is he doomed to the opposite fate?
Rand’s worldview emerges in the compelling plot turns of a mystery story, centered on the question “Who is John Galt?”