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Anthem By Ayn Rand Essay

Imagine a world where the individual has been repressed to the point that the
word “I” no longer exists. Now, as hellish as that sounds, imagine that you
are the only one who has the capability to break free from the iron fists that
are choking you and your brothers. This is the life of Equality 7-2521, the
principal character and narrator of Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Anthem takes place in
the dark ages of the future, in a totally collectivized world. This culture has
regressed to conditions reminiscent of Ancient Greece and the European Dark
Ages. In the midst of fear and subordination, one man stands alone. Equality
7-2521 is not like his brothers. He is able think, create and defy. This makes
him extremely dangerous. He holds the threat of change in his hands and his
government will stop at nothing to take it from him. Equality’s society
represses him because they are afraid of those that threaten the established
order. One major catalyst for change is intelligence. Equality displays evidence
of genius at a young age. “We, Equality 7-2521, were not happy…in the
Home of the Students. It was not that the learning was too hard for us. It
was…too easy” (Rand 16). In Equality’s society, it is evil to be different
from ones brothers, let alone to be better than they are. He is taught at an
early age to be ashamed of his intellectual superiority. “This is a sin, to be
born with a head which is too quick” (Rand 16). This device of suppression by
means of shame was used in an attempt to stifle geniuses and, hence, pacify his
society’s fear of change. As Equality grew, he confirmed their fears. During
his lifetime he made many revelations and discoveries. His most profound
breakthrough was his re-invention of electricity. “We, Equality 7-2521, have
discovered a new power of nature.” (Rand 54). He produced a primitive light
bulb. He wanted to use his invention to better his world. To the misfortune of
his society, they loathed this new power. If they had accepted his ideas
Equality would have been “…the literal and figurative bringer of light” (Gladstein
43). Unfortunately for Equality, as well as his society, his discovery met
violent opposition and his brothers were not able to benefit from his
intelligence. Genius has historically been repressed. Geniuses of our past have
been ostracized, punished, and martyred for presenting ideas that eventually
bettered their societies. Equality is no different. “Equality 7-2521 is a
creator and inventor in the tradition of Galileo, Edison, and Einstein” (Gladstein
27). These real-life geniuses dared to violate their society’s norms and
eventually their ideas were accepted. Like in Equality’s fictional culture,
real-life societies have tended to ignore the ideas of solitary geniuses
(McDonald 2). His ideas were swept aside violently, and his society remained
unchanged. Self-interest leads to the defiance of unjust restrictions.

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Equality’s government prohibits individual action. No one is allowed to do
anything on their own. “…There is no transgression blacker than to think or
do alone”(Rand 11). Equality’s defiance of his government’s laws set him
apart from his brothers. The condition of the Palace of Corrective Detention is
demonstrative of the unquestioning obedience of his brothers. “It is easy to
escape…there are no guards…There is no reason to have guards, for men have
never defied the Councils so far as to escape from whatever place they were
ordered to be” (Rand 73). Unlike his brothers, Equality had the individual
strength to disobey the laws of his government. By questioning authority he took
an interest in himself and was liberated. “The noblest human purpose is to
pursue enlightened self-interest and only those the follow that course can
emerge as…champions…” (McDonald 2). Equality’s government had tried to
contain him from day one. Authorities cannot control him because he has an
independent mind. “…This totally collectivized society has no power
…the individual…”(Branden 112). His self-interest allows him to act
as independently as his surroundings would permit. Although he is enlightened by
his self-interest, he is never free from the shackles of guilt his society has
placed upon him. No matter how freethinking Equality is, his nature is still
shaped by his society (Kelly 1). However this guilt did not stop him from acting
independently and constantly challenging the laws of his culture. Creativity is
a main staple needed in order for change to take place. Equality has somehow
been able to escape the suppression of creativity that is so deeply ingrained in
his culture. Equality is not the only person who is able to transgress in order
to create. One of his brothers, International 4-8818, is a natural artist and is
punished in an attempt to stifle his talents. “They were not liked because
they…drew pictures… and they…made men laugh” (Rand 27). Their government
strictly prohibits this sort of creativity. “…It is only our brothers in the
Home of the Artists who are permitted to draw pictures…”(Rand 27). Even
though both men, Equality and International, are very talented and intelligent,
they are both assigned to be street sweepers among “pale boy with half a
brain”(Rand 17). These men were kept from sharing their gifts with their
society. Their society feels that those talents need to be suppressed in order
to preserve the established state of their society. They are correct in that
assumption. Creativity and individualism inevitably lead to change.

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“Individualism was the creative power revolutionizing the world” (Branden
12). Repression of creativity and individualism are a perfect way to inhibit
social change. Without creativity Equality’s society will not be improved
because only the self-creative can enrich society (Kavanagh 1). A collectivized
society cannot benefit “…from that which only the independent mind can
create…” (Branden 112). Unless a society can accept and embrace creativity,
it will remain unchanged. Equality’s society is extremely afraid of inquiry.


They are petrified of anyone that is able to question and challenge what they
are taught. “Equality 7-2521 is perceived as a threat to the established
order” (Gladstein 35). Equality was ostracized, punished, and nearly killed
for presenting an idea to the Council of Scholars. His interest in the
scientific world had led him to a monumental discovery: electricity. He was
able, through experimentation, to understand this new force, and he eventually
constructed a primitive light bulb. Equality had convinced himself that his
discovery was so great that if he were to present it to the Council of Scholars,
all his transgressions would be forgiven and his invention would be embraced. He
presents it to the council only to arouse fear and hatred in the hearts of the
scholars. “…The wire glowed. But terror struck the men of the
Council”(Rand 78). This intense fear of new ideas had led the Council of
Scholars to take measures to prevent these types of discoveries to be made by
the common man. Children were taught at a young age not to question their
surroundings. “…The Council of Scholars has said that there are no
mysteries”(Rand 18-19). This type of repression causes the society to avoid
the reality of their situation (O’Neill 85). Contrary to his upbringing and
the laws of his government, Equality is able to question. He is able to think
with some degree of freedom. “He is able to move beyond the shackles of his
limited education”(Gladstein 27). Because he was born with superior
intelligence, he was able to break free and be his own man. In conclusion,
Equality 7-2521 is feared because he has the capability to make major social
change. This ability lies in his supreme intelligence, self-interest, defiance,
and the ability to question. Fear is the underlying cause of all of Equality’s
hardships. His society is afraid of change and they know that he is capable of
revolutionizing their world as they know it. This results in Equality being
feared and perceived as a threat. Their fear evolves into hate and they want to
shut Equality down. Their intense fear of Equality nearly leads to his death.


However, Equality also had the strength to break free from the chains that had
bound him his whole life. He risked his dignity, his safety, and his life and
was rewarded with freedom. “Many words have been granted to me, and some are
wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: ?I will it!'”(Rand
109).


Bibliography
Branden, Nathaniel. Who is Ayn Rand: An Analysis of the Novels of Ayn Rand.


New York: Random House, 1962. Gladstein, Mimi Reisel. The Ayn Rand Companion.


Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984. Kavanaugh, John F. “The Triumph of Ayn
Rand.” America 3-10 July 1999:1-2. Kelly, David. “Capitalism: The Unknown
Ideal.” Reason December 1993: 1. McDonald, Marci. “Fighting Over Ayn Rand: A
Radical Individualist’s Followers Can’t Get Along.” U.S. News and World
Report 9 March 1998: 1-5. O’Neill, William F. With Charity Towards None: An
Analysis of Ayn Rand’s Philosophy. Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams & Co.,
1977. Rand, Ayn. Anthem. New York: Signet, 1946. Works Consulted Branden,
Nathaniel. Who is Ayn Rand: An Analysis of the Novels of Ayn Rand. New York:
Random House, 1962. Gladstein, Mimi Reisel. The Ayn Rand Companion. Westport,
CT: Greenwood Press, 1984. Kavanaugh, John F. “The Triumph of Ayn Rand.”
America 3-10 July 1999: 1-2. Kelly, David. “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.”
Reason December 1993: 1. McDonald, Marci. “Fighting Over Any Rand: A Radical
Individualist’s Followers Can’t Get Along.” U.S. News and World Report 9
March 1998: 1-5. O’Neill, William F. With Charity Towards None: An Analysis of
Ayn Rand’s Philosophy. Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams & Co., 1977. Rand,
Ayn. Anthem. New York: Signet, 1946.

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Anthem By Ayn Rand Essay
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Artscolumbia
Imagine a world where the individual has been repressed to the point that the
word "I" no longer exists. Now, as hellish as that sounds, imagine that you
are the only one who has the capability to break free from the iron fists that
are choking you and your brothers. This is the life of Equality 7-2521, the
principal character and narrator of Ayn Rand's Anthem. Anthem takes place in
the dark ages of the future, in a totally collectivized world. This culture has
regressed to
2019-01-04 10:29:56
Anthem By Ayn Rand Essay
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