It is instructive to compare also the main characters of the two novels. In Atlas Shrugged they are exceptional and it is precisely because of that quality that they became characters of the novel. Each of the Atlases is unblemished, pure, proud. Every detail of their physiognomy speaks of genius and magnificence. The Übermenschen do not simply move: they make motions full of charm and elegance. They do not simply work: they craft, always with passion and enthusiasm. They never get tired, weary or bored with what they do; they have no families, no children, no obligations; they are frightfully rational; they live only for themselves and for their occupational passions. If they happen to be businessmen, they never own little family businesses; they run huge corporations, ironworks, mines, or railway companies. In Rand's novel there is no place for moderation and inconspicuousness. Only that which is huge and effective deserves praise and attention.
Completely different, more human-like, are Tolkien's characters. In fact, the whole novel — though told from the hobbit's perspective — has a profoundly anthropocentric dimension. There are men in The Lord of the Rings, to be sure, but it is the hobbits who resemble real humans the most — they are rather clumsy, neither exceptionally smart, stout, nor courageous, but good, sociable, faithful and generally cheerful. The most important characters in Tolkien's novel are actually anti-heroes — they try to stay away from the world of big politics; however, when fate throws them in its very middle, they act bravely and ultimately bring salvation.
What the author of The Lord of the Rings seems to be saying, then, is that it is not titans who support the earth, but hobbits; each and every one of us, therefore, can answer the call of greatness and novelty, even should he live in Hobbiton spending most of his time cultivating his garden, smoking a pipe, and drinking beer in the local pub.
Read more. Via Reason.
Ayn Rand's books are interesting in that the heroes are possibly more detestable than the villains...