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Essay/Term paper: Rand's "anthem"

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Literary Essays

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Rand's "Anthem"

Anthem, a science fiction novel, deals with a future primitive society in
which the forbidden word "I", which is punishable, has been replaced by "We".
Anthem's theme seems to be about the meaning and glory of man's ego. In this
novel, Rand shows that the individualism needed for building a complex
technological civilization has been suppressed by collectivism. Rand glorifies
man's individual ability to think, and appeals to emotion. The emotion is
displayed at various time throughout the story; the encounters of Equality and
Liberty, on the occasion regarding the discovery of the light bulb, and during
the time the two find the house in which they will live in for the remainder of
their lives.
One day while Equality was tending to his job as street sweeper, he came
across a beautiful young woman taking care of the fields. Even though it is
forbidden, he decides to go over and talk to her. While they were talking, we
see the first sign of emotions when "Their face did not move and they did not
avert their eyes. Only their eyes grew wider, and there was triumph in their
eyes, and it was not triumph over us, but over things we could not guess."
Later, Liberty follows Equality into the forest, and the first sign of
forbidden love is shown when "we bent to raise the Golden One to their feet, but
when we touched them, it was as if madness had stricken us. We seized their
body and we pressed our lips to theirs."
Equality is excited with the joy of learning when he finishes his work of
building a light bulb. "WE MADE IT. WE CREATED IT. We brought it forth from
the night of the ages. We alone. Our hands. Our mind. Ours alone and only.
We know not what we are saying. Our head is reeling." The emotion shown by
Equality after having just built the light bulb is pride and happiness because
he has just created some power unknown but to the people of the Unmentionable
times. After he fully realizes what he has done, he has defensive emotions and
has to "guard our tunnel as we had never guarded it before. For should any men
save the Scholars learn of our secret, they would not understand it, nor would
they believe us. They would see nothing, save our crime of working alone, and
they would destroy us and our light."
The climax of the story shows the greatest emotion of all, the feeling of
euphoria. They have a feeling of well-being that overcomes them. "I shall
live here, in my own house. I shall take my food from the earth by the toil of
my own hands. I shall learn many secrets from my books. Through the years
ahead, I shall rebuild the achievements of the past, and open the way to carry
them further, the achievements which are open to me, but closed forever to my
brothers, for their minds are shackled to the weakest and dullest ones among
them." Once free from their restrictive society, they rediscover the knowledge
of the Unmentionable times, they discover the self and free will.
Ayn Rand's science fiction novella Anthem shows intense emotion. The story
takes place in a futuristic world of collectivism where the word "I" has been
forgotten. The achievements of the past have been lost until one man feels his
emotions and acts upon them. Emotions are the key to the story.


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