Course Name: Exceptional Man – Andrew Ryan
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Do you think Andrew Ryan is a good man?
I’m finishing up with the book Bioshock: Rapture, and I must say it’s a great way to get a more in depth look at characters though honestly it raises more questions than answers about Ryan. If you wondered about his character let me hear it.
25 points ·
I think he was a man who had good intentions and just got caught up with everything that was going on and kinda let his power get to his head. So I think he was a good man who’s power corrupted him.
11 points ·
Awesome, just finished the book a few hours ago myself. ^ This. He got power hungry. And was let down in a sense that no one around him lived up to his expectations and such, besides Fontaine for a while
3 points ·· edited 3 years ago
I think that’s the biggest flaw with men like Ryan. They marvel at how other people aren’t working as hard to be successful as he has, and they view those that failed as inferior. It’s impossible to have such expectations for people in Rapture, cause competitors can use every conniving business trick in the book. It’s impossible to build from the ground up.
The book was awesome wasn’t it!? My thought though, was he spent his life, everything he earned and more on this city. Trying to flee and save the people he thought deserved to be saved. And it all went to shit. He worked so hard and put everything he had into it and it fell apart and he just kept trying to fix it till there was nothing left to fix. I feel like he was power crazy the whole time. But what sent him over the edge was working his whole life and failing, than he had to watch his beautiful city crumble
Pretty much every man thinks they have good intentions. Clearly Ryan had the ability to do great things, but I would argue that his self centered view for Rapture and dismissal of people he didn’t deem good enough for his city preclude him from being a good man. Although it wasn’t until he lost it and became obsessed with maintaining control that he became an outright bad man.
7 points .
I’ve given this some thought and I genuinely think that he isn’t. Apologies for the wall of text that helps me explain my point:
Reading the novel, you might feel like Ryan had good intentions from the outset. That is, IMO, because he is a master of manipulation, a trait that is not unusual with people who run big businesses. Since the novel rarely takes on his point of view, we receive a lot of our opinions from external sources. Most of these come from Bill McDonagh, who is shown to have a strong admiration for Ryan and may therefore prove an unreliable source. Other sources (e.g. Frank Fontaine) provide an impression of Ryan that is closer to what I think is his true nature.
To me, Ryan is an over-ambitious and overconfident person, with a hint of narcissism. It appears that he conceived Rapture to create a Utopia of free enterprise, but there’s more to it than that. It is clear from the book that he is an extremely successful businessman in the ‘surface world’ and has amassed an enormous fortune. Rationally speaking, I don’t think he has any real reason to escape from society. I feel like the true reason for his submarine descent is inspired by his limitless greed. Due to the presence of government, military (who have now harnessed the power of the Atom), competition, unions, etc., he will never be as powerful as he’d like to be. As a solution to this question of power, he conceives Rapture. Its design speaks volumes as to his character: as a sign of ambition and dedication for his peers to admire, he doesn’t just build a city on a remote island or in some uncharted territory in South America, he builds it at the bottom of the god damn ocean. This, in my opinion, gives added meaning to the phrase “I couldn’t build Rapture anywhere else”.
Now, he begins to recruit fellow business moguls, artists and other visionaries to populate Rapture. He entices them with the promise of competition without regulation and intellectual freedom (which he may actually: since he considers himself a human standard of excellence, he should have no problem obtaining the largest part of the cake). The arrival of this crowd not only provides funds for the maintenance of Rapture, but also plays into Ryan’s hubris and narcissism: once he has proven himself the supreme link in the ‘Great Chain’, he will not just be a ruler of a lowbred populace, but a true primus inter pares.
Of course, Ryan won’t just wait for this to happen, and he starts playing the game well before any competition ever arrives: he fills Rapture with his own image, erecting statues of himself, engraving his quotes in plaques all over the city, and imposing a philosophy that bans religion and makes Ryan the de facto spiritual leader of the new society. Add to that the fact that most inhabitants need to pay a substantial sum of money to Ryan (for maintenance, housing, etc.) before they can actually live in Rapture, and you can understand that the deck has been carefully shuffled in Ryan’s favor.
Now the years go by, Rapture flourishes, and Ryan remains firmly in control, allowing him to go around pretending to be a benevolent visionary. However, cracks eventually start to appear: people that have fallen on bad times and live in slums start to rebel, and since Ryan is the most visible inhabitant of Rapture, they direct their anger at him. Along with these troubles, Frank Fontaine is becoming a legitimate threat to Ryan’s enterprise. Faced with this opposition, Ryan quickly drops the facade and reveals his true nature. Acting like an oppressing tyrant, he squashes the uprisings through brute force, and has Fontaine executed on false charges of illegal activity. This is the absolute turning point for Ryan: having been able to live his life as the ‘supreme being’ for so long now, he cannot bear the idea of having to part with his power. His descent into Rapture has climaxed with his descent into madness. The gloves are off, and he would rather see the city burn if it meant he could be the king of the ashes. He takes up the role of despot and wages war with anyone who dares to oppose him. Civil war ensues, but Ryan never settles for anything less than total control. This is evidenced when Jack eventually takes the batysphere down into the Welcome Center: Rapture is bursting at the seams, and yet Ryan still thinks he is firmly in control of his city.
All visible evidence aside, It’s also striking to me that Ryan’s demise echoes that of another deeply evil persona, namely Adolf Hitler: staying behind in the rubble of his dreams, he refuses to give in, and when defeat finally seems inevitable, he chooses to take his own life (in this case by ordering Jack to kill him). In their final moments, these two tyrants proved that they would rather die than give up their power.
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