Ayn Rands Anthem Essay, Research Paper
Subj: sorry bout the color and spacing
Date: 3/5/01 10:33:55 PM Eastern Standard Time
Fear. It oozes from the hearts of every character in Ayn Rand?s Anthem. It is a
fear comparative to that of the thousands of slaves kept by a single master, or the millions
in concentration camps that were maintained by a measly hundred or thousand. It is the
the fear to rebel against an already accepted fate. Once this fear is instilled, it condemns
generation after generation, and unless it is stopped it will be accepted as the only way to
live. Luckily, there are exceptions. Lights at the end of the eternally dark tunnels. Great
thinkers that, under the right circumstances, could expand and reach heights like the great
minds we know today; Albert Einstein, Plato, Malcolm X, Mahatma Ghandi. While
reading about Equality in Anthem, many questions are repeatedly presented. How does the
collectivist society maintain control over its subjects? Where does Equality?s drive to free
himself from collectivism come from? What makes it so easy for him to do so?
The appeal in a collectivist society lies in its seemingly harmless outer beauty.
Ideas like having respect for fellow humans are intensified, thus creating mass appeal.
Once this appeal is instilled it deteriorates, a society is left dragging its weak and stifling
its strong. The strong or intelligent are shunned, and forced to degrade themselves in
order to fit in with their brothers. It is clear that the society is maintained by fear and
ignorance. The people in the novel know no other way of life. The existence of individual
thoughts and ideas has disappeared from their society. These mindless zombies are only
certain that it is evil to think or be alone. Even Equality, the most unique individual in the
dark times, believes it is a sin to be alone until the very end of the novel. Ignorance and
fear shut down the minds of the individuals in the book and enables them to only think
collectively, but few still see the importance of individuality.
The battle Equality faces is basically an internal one. Each new discovery or
realization that comes to him brings on a new conflict. Things that were viewed as evil all
of his life suddenly seem pure and Equality is forced to reinvent his entire way of thinking.
He must conquer the fear and ignorance that engulfs his brothers. Yet, deep within his
soul, his entire life has been a constant search, leading to individuality. Equality always
knew there was something more meaningful for him alone. It seems that throughout the
entire book the word ?I? is on the tip of his tongue. Slowly, but surely, each collectivist
idea is overcome, leaving one man, one soul, and one idea.
Victory was simple yet sweet for Equality. Once away from the rest of society, he
was able to truly discover solidarity. He saw his face. He felt love for only one other
individual, he made his own decisions for his own well being. The discovery of the word
?I? in the books he read was indeed monumental to the plot in the novel, but the feeling
the word induced already existed. He reeked the benefits of being alone, having his own
home, and someone to love, and his own possessions. Once he experienced these things,
the collectivist values that were instilled in him no longer existed. He had his own ego,
which can be smothered and denied, but never expelled from mankind.
In the foreword to Anthem, Ayn Rand writes, ?The greatest guilt today is that of
the people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from
the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which
they are accepting…? She goes on to give us a novel that embodies these thoughts.
Living in a world like that of Anthem?s would be bitter and cold, without individuality or
creativity. The last resort? Ayn Rand, and others who would be strong enough to be
heroes, just like Equality 7-2521. They are the lights at the ends of the eternally dark
tunnels. They are hope.