Character Analysis Kent Lansing


Lansing is a salesman with a rare appreciation of artistic genius and an even rarer willingness to fight for it. He is a member of the board formed to build the Aquitania Hotel, a luxury establishment on Central Park South. Lansing recognizes Roark's extraordinary talent, even though at this early point of Roark's career, his major projects have been limited to the Enright House and the Cord Building. Lansing's supreme virtue is a stubborn commitment to fight for his values, an indomitable doggedness that enables him to triumph over a multitude of obstacles, across a period of years, to construct the Aquitania as he desires it. When construction of the hotel is stopped due to a series of lawsuits, Lansing vows to win legal control of the project, and retain Roark to complete it. Promising to finish it, no matter the length of time required, Lansing advises Roark, "I won't tell you to be patient. Men like you and me would not survive beyond their first fifteen years if they did not acquire the patience of a Chinese executioner. And the hide of a battleship." Though it takes five years to successfully resolve the legal disputes, Lansing perseveres. He keeps his word, and Roark eventually completes the hotel.

Lansing describes himself as a salesman, and shows Roark the value of a middleman. He says that Roark could explain to the board the proper reasons for hiring him much more effectively than anyone else. But the board's members will not listen to him; they will reject as selfishly prejudicial any remarks on his hiring that Roark makes. Lansing points out that people often find it easier to pass judgment on a man rather than on an idea, even though it is both illogical and unjust to judge a man without considering the content of his thinking. Lansing explains to Roark the reasons for this. He says that to understand and evaluate a man's thinking requires firm principles or standards which, tragically, most people lack. They do not possess carefully thought-out and tested principles of their own; they merely allow themselves to be buffeted on serious issues by the important people in their lives. In short, most people are followers and are too afraid to stand on their own. They will not see the truth of the new ideas created by an innovator like Roark. They need to hear it from others. They need to hear it from a middleman — and the more middlemen the better. Because men generally fear independence, a revolutionary thinker like Roark needs a few rare men like Lansing to both recognize and fight for the merit of his work. Lansing plays an invaluable role in Roark's life. He understands the brilliance of Roark's creative work and will take on any obstacle to procure a Roark design for his hotel. In the struggle that Lansing fights and wins, he demonstrates that independence and integrity are not the exclusive prerogative of the creative artist, but are sometimes possessed by the middleman, as well.