“Pride, then, seems to be a sort of crown of the virtues; for it makes them greater, and it is not found without them. Therefore it is hard to be truly proud; for it is impossible without nobility and goodness of character (ARISTOTLE)” writes Aristotle in chapter 3 of his Nichomachean Ethics. In this excerpt, Aristotle describes the pride and characteristics of a “proud man” or “great-souled man.” Considering the characters of Howard Roark and John Keating, the two seem to be exemplary examples of Aristotle’s proud man. Although different in many ways, these two men qualify greatly for the role of a proud man because of their similar basic beliefs of not aiming at things commonly held in honour, to ask for nothing but to give help readily, and to believe that life should be worth living. To begin, Aristotle states that it is characteristic of the proud man not to aim at the things commonly held in honour, or the things in which others excel. Both characters, John Keating and Howard Roark display this characteristic in their lives. Howard Roark is an architect known for buildings that suggest his personality. His designs are always innovative and ascetic, a style in which others do not succeed or agree with. Roark faces criticism against every design he submits but never does this stop him.
He will never compromise his principles to please someone else. This is a grand display of his similarities to Aristotle’s proud man. To continue, John Keating in the Dead Poets Society is a man who also does not aim at things commonly held in honour. Through the lessons in his class, Keating teaches his students the importance of being unique and to not fall into conformity. To get his students to understand this idea, he proclaimed “Now we all have a great need for acceptance but you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them to be odd or unpopular.” This statement is a great example of how Mr. Keating qualifies as an example of the proud man. Overall, through the similarities in striving to be unique and characteristic of independence, Howard Roark and John Keating are both outstanding examples of Aristotle’s proud man. Next, Aristotle states that it is a mark of a proud man to ask for nothing or scarcely anything, but to give help readily. Both men share this mark as it greatly describes the generous personalities of Roark and Keating. Roark is very passionate towards his work and he loves doing it.
This passion along with great generosity led Roark to hand his designs over to Peter Keating, a fellow architect, without asking for a single thing in return. He is a man who always helps as long as his principles and beliefs are not compromised. Mr. John Keating is also a man who is very passionate about his work. When a student walks into Keating’s quaint room, he asks “You can go anywhere. You can do anything. How can you stand being here?” Keating simply replies with “Because I love teaching. I do not want to be anywhere else.” This dialogue exemplifies Keating’s sheer desire to teach and help his students even if he gets nothing in return. In all, the two men desire to give help and do what they love without asking for anything in return. This is a strong trait that a proud man possesses. Lastly, a proud man believes that life should be worth living. Aristotle says when he is in danger he is unsparing with his life, knowing there are conditions in which life is not worth having. Howard Roark and John Keating are two men who know how to live their life to the fullest or not live it at all.
When Roark discovered his designs were changed, he risked his life to blow up the building because to him that was a condition in which life was not worth having. Mr. Keating on the other hand asked one of his students to read an excerpt to the class in order to express his feelings on life. The excerpt read, “To put to route all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover I had not lived.” Keating stressed to his students the importance of living your life to the fullest. He taught them that if they aren’t doing what they love to do then life wasn’t worth living. Neil Perry, a student of Mr. Keating, took this lesson to heart and took his own life when his father forbid him from doing what he loved. He felt that his life should not be lived if he could not pursue his love for acting. Concluding, by doing what he loved, Mr. Keating taught the boys to do what they love in their life and to seize the day. Howard Roark risked his own life because he couldn’t live if his principles were going to be compromised. Overall, Roark and Keating are extraordinary characters of a proud man in the way that they live their life to the fullest potential.
To conclude, pride is concerned with honour on the grand scale, as has been said by Aristotle. Howard Roark and John Keating qualify as examples to be Aristotle’s “proud man” or “great-souled man” because of their undeniably similar characteristics. The two men excel in which other people mainly do not. They are men of few deeds but great and notable ones. Roark and Keating have the generous characteristic of the proud man by asking for nothing but giving help readily. Finally, these two men live their life the way they want to. “Carpe Diem, Seize the Day” says John Keating is relation to his life. Roark and Keating seize the day in their everyday lives because if they do not, they are not truly living their lives. To finish, Roark and Keating abundantly qualify as an example of Aristotle’s “proud man.”