June 27, 2011

Anthem theme essay

I feel like my essay starts out really well, but gets worse as it goes on. I was having some issues with my tenses. Oh well:P

Ayn Rand’s “Anthem” champions the individual. It follows the journey of Equality 7-2521: a man stuck in a dystopian society of extreme collectivism. He breaks away from the people and recreates electricity--an invention that was lost with the world’s digression. Once realizing the counterproductive nature of conformity, Equality 7-2521 takes his forbidden love and steals into the forest to start life anew. He forges an anthem for himself and posterity. “Anthem” seeks to establish the individual as a source of happiness by noting the faults within a collectivist society, proving the value of innovation, and describing the autonomy of individualism.

The book is a journal of Equality 7-2521. He calls himself “We” instead of “I.” In his society; “it is a sin to write” (pg. 17) anything by oneself. The anthem of his people is: “We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, One, indivisible and forever” (pg. 19). Upon reaching age fifteen, citizens are assigned a career. Equality 7-2521 became a street sweeper which hindered his creative mind.
They are not allowed to love any man or woman above another, meaning that they cannot form relationships. Yet he still had feelings for a girl whom he called “the Golden One.” Ayn Rand points out the flaws of collectivism by initially deleting the word “I” and by showing how it goes against the natural man tendencies to make one’s own decisions and create friendships.

Once when sweeping the streets, Equality 7-2521 found an old sewer drain, but he didn’t know what it was. He was curious enough to risk his life in order to explore it. He returned to it each night to study the things of the “unmentionable times” that were inside of it. Even though his actions were considered treacherous, he wrote that “in our heart there is the first peace we have known in twenty years.” He found a light bulb, and was finally able to make it work, saying “the wire glowed! It came to life, it turned red, and a circle of light lay on the stone before us” (pg. 59). Equality 7-2521’s ability to create was what made him truly happy, but he had to do it in secret. This further proves how a collectivist society--one that disapproves of innovation--cannot grant one happiness.

“I am. I think. I will” (pg. 94). Equality 7-2521 finally ran away from his home. The Golden One soon followed and joined him. What had once seem a scary and evil thing, to be alone, became their greatest joy. Equality 7-2521 concluded that it was natural for him to love a woman and to make his own decisions. They found a home from the “unmentionable times” high up in the mountains. There were books that he wanted to read. Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One soon renamed themselves Prometheus and Gaea, after gods. Their new anthem was that of freedom, ego, and the individual.

In most books, readers will say that they feel connected with the character, or that they can sympathize with them. In Ayn Rand’s “Anthem,” she paints a world that is collectivist to the extreme; one where career is not a choice and love is illegal. The whole society is centered on “we.” Equality 7-2521 isn’t the typical hero of a story with whom one can relate to. Instead, his journey teaches that individualism will lead to true happiness, something that many people take for granted. “Anthem” illustrates the way in which collectivism restricts freedoms while innovation and autonomy will truly bring joy, making it a must read for all people seeking to better appreciate and respect their culture.

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